Treasures from James Smith

(A collection of choice articles from his works)
 

James Smith (1802—1862) was a predecessor of Charles Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel in London from 1841 until 1850. Early on, Smith's readings were even more popular than Spurgeon's!
 

My object is to lead the mind . . .
from SELF — to Jesus;
from sin — to salvation;
from the troubles of life — to the comforts of the gospel.

My aim is . . .
to humble the sinner — and exalt the Savior;
to strip the creature — and place the crown on the head of God's free grace! I cannot ascribe too much to Jesus — or too little to man!

 

A Review

It is sometimes profitable to look back, and see what we were, and what we were likely to be — if the Lord had left us alone. Nor is it less profitable at times to look around and within, and dwell awhile upon what the Lord has done for us. It is also very pleasant to look forward, and anticipate what we shall be, when the Lord has fulfilled in us all the good pleasure of his goodness, and crowned his work of grace with glory. Let this then be our employment for a few minutes, and may the Holy Spirit make our meditations beneficial. We will ask three questions:

First, What WAS I by NATURE? 
This is a dark and dreary subject, for I was in a sad state, and had acquired a sad character.

My heart was fearfully depraved — my nature was totally fallen.

All within was spiritually dead — and all without was unholy.

The creature was loved and served — and the Creator was neglected and despised.

Sin was my element.

Satan was my master.

The world was my heaven.

I had no good desires — no holy aspirations — no redeeming qualities.

I was a rebel against God's government — and a traitor against God's crown!

I would have destroyed God if I could — and have blotted His name out of creation! The language of my heart and life was, "No God for me!" My heart was filled and fired with enmity against Him, and at times I could have cursed Him to His face!
I hated His law.
I despised His gospel.
I abhorred His people.
If I could — I would have crushed His cause!

How astonishing that such a wretch was allowed to live!

How astonishing that God had not crushed me by His power, and sentenced me to Hell!

But, O the longsuffering, the patience, and the sovereign grace of God! He bore with me. He loaded me with his benefits. He determined to win me with His love. Nevertheless I sinned yet the more, and provoked Him with my ungodly conduct. O how surprising that I am not in Hell! Surely there are many already in Hell — who were never such great sinners as I have been!

But, the Lord is good, ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all those who call upon Him. He put a cry into my heart, He listened to that cry, and made me a new creature in Christ Jesus. He unveiled my enormous wickedness before the eyes of my mind, which filled me with confusion, despondency, and shame. He laid me in the dust, and seemed to doom me to despair. He . . .
  crushed my proud spirit,
  destroyed my infernal enmity against Him,
  and melted me into contrition with His love.

He pardoned all my aggravated transgressions.
He spoke peace to my soul.
He filled me with joy and gladness.
He fired me with a desire to honor and glorify Him, and then bade me go and "Tell to sinners round — what a dear Savior I had found!"

What AM I by GRACE?
For all I now am — I once was not. Everything which is in any sense good in me — must be ascribed to the free grace of God. Yes, with the holy Apostle I must say, "By the grace of God, I am what I am!" By grace — I am a new creature, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained, that I should walk in them. By grace — I am pardoned, justified, and accepted of God. By grace — I am united to Christ's person, and constituted a joint heir with him. By grace — I am God's child, the Holy Spirit's temple, and a part of the Savior's purchase.

Grace called me, and grace made me willing to obey the call. Grace washed away my sins in the blood of the Lamb, and washed my person in the laver of the Word. All that has been wrought within me, all that has been conferred upon me, and all the good that has been done by me — must be traced to the free and invincible grace of God! Who can tell what I would have been by this time — but for the grace of God? Who can say where I would have been this morning — but for the grace of God? Most probably, I would have been in Hell — where the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched! O what a debtor to grace I am! If anyone ought to speak well of grace — I am the man. If anyone should magnify sovereign grace — surely I should. For to God's sovereign grace — I owe everything!

I am not now — what I once was. Why? Because God had a purpose of grace toward me.

I am not now — what I soon shall be. Why? Because grace is always crowned with glory!
 

Thirdly, What SHALL I be in GLORY? Perhaps the less I say on this point the better — for who can tell what the redeemed shall be? But this we do know, that when Jesus comes — we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is! However, this is clear, that in glory I shall be free from sin, from care, and from pain. I shall be free from the conflict within, the doubts and the fears that so often distress me; and the assaults of Satan that disturb my peace, and hinder me in my way. In glory, there is no darkness or gloom, no depression or sadness, no sorrow or distress, no wants or wishing, no weariness or woe, no complaints or groaning. And there, I shall see God, and enjoy him! I shall be like Christ, and be with him; and glorify and honor my Triune God forever.

Glory! What is glory? We must die to know! And blessed be God, when we die — we shall know. Absent from the body — we shall be present with the Lord. Departing from these scenes of sorrow and sadness — we shall be with Christ, which is far better. In glory, our knowledge will he perfect, our education will be completed, our joy will be full.

"Then shall we see, and hear, and know,
 All we desired, and wished below;
 And flesh and sin no more control,
 The sacred pleasures of the soul."

How different I now am — to what I once was!

And how different I shall be in Heaven — to what I now am! What a change has already been effected — but what a change yet awaits me!

I am no more God's enemy — but his friend! I am no longer alienated from God — but his beloved child! But what — O what shall I soon be? "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

Reader, have you been able to follow me in these remarks? Are you still in the state nature — or are you a new creature by grace? Are you what you always were — or have you passed from death unto life? If you are not in grace — you are still in nature; and if in nature, you are God's enemy. If you are not in grace on earth — you can never be in glory in Heaven. Be sure then, that you are delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son!

 

A Birthday Meditation

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 obtained 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 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.

 

The Wealthy Family!

"There is no lack to those who fear Him!" Psalm 34:9

They are not truly wealthy — who appear to be so — or who boast of being so.

The lost sinner must be poor. He has . . .
   no God to comfort him;
   no Savior to deliver him;
   no Guide to conduct him;
   no Advocate to plead for him;
   no inward peace to support him;
   no title to Heaven to encourage him.

He is poor. He is in need. He will need . . .
   confidence and comfort in death;
   a wedding garment, in which to appear before God;
   and a comfortable home throughout eternity!

Every lost sinner is indeed poor. His resources will soon be exhausted, and he will find himself "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!" He may have the appearance of prosperity — but not the reality. True riches belong to another family.

The Lord's people all fear Him; that is, they fear to offend Him, and desire above all things to please Him. And though they may appear poor — they are really rich! God has provided all good things for them — and He gives all good things to them.
 

They have a solid peace, flowing from a knowledge of acceptance with God, through the blood of Jesus.

They have a joyful hope, which blooms with immortality.

They are assured of strength equal to their day; and of sanctifying grace to make all their troubles work for their good.

They are content with God's wise and holy appointments; and godliness with contentment is a good fortune.

They acquiesce in the will of God; and are often filled with joy which flows from His presence.

They obtain victory over the temptations which would ensnare them.

They live above the world, which would allure and beguile them.

They are sure of support in death.

They look forward to a joyful resurrection.

They rightly anticipate Heaven as their portion forever!

There is no lack to them, for all that they can truly need, is promised — and every promise is confirmed by the blood of Jesus!

Jehovah is theirs — along with all that He is, and has!

His power is their support!

His wisdom is their guide!

His fullness is their fortune!

His mercy is their friend!

His love is their Heaven.

"Happy are the people who are in such a case!" All the Lord's people are really in this case — and therefore they are all happy!

Just think of having Almighty God for your present, constant, eternal Friend!

Think of having the wealth of Deity to supply and satisfy you!

And if you sincerely fear God — then this is the reality of your case! No truth is more clearly revealed in Scripture. No subject is more rich with consolation!

Strength may be exhausted,
health may decline,
courage may fail,
riches may flee,
friends may forsake,
enemies may increase,
all circumstances may change for the worse — but
"those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing!"

Sweet promise of a faithful God!

Here, pilgrim, is your staff — take it and travel home!

Here, saint, is your cordial — drink and forget your misery!

Here, believer, is your fortune — take it and live upon it, while a resident here below.

Here, fearful soul, is your antidote — use it to dispel your fears and cheer your fainting heart!

"The young lions may lack food and go hungry — but there is no lack to those who fear Him!"

Here is wealth! Here is comfort!

Here is all that we can need for life or death, time or eternity!

 

Paul's Seven Wishes!

Wishing is generally fruitless, and sometimes sinful. Resignation is generally better than wishing, and acquiescence in God's will, more so still. But it is natural to desire what we esteem to be good — and grace only regulates and sanctifies this exercise of nature. Desire is often the effect of knowledge — and it is the very soul of prayer. Whatever we have, there is much that we need, and, consequently, much that we must desire.

Paul desired seven things especially, and they all referred to Christ, and they are all named in his epistle to the Philippians, and I propose to glance at them. Let us compare our desires with his as we go on, and may the Holy Spirit bless our brief meditation on the subject.

First, he says, "that I may KNOW Him!" (Philippians 3:10.) Christ had appeared to Paul, he was revealed in him, and was constantly preached by him. Christ was . . .
the object of his trust,
the subject of his ministry,
and the joy of his heart.

But he knew that there was much in Christ with which he was unacquainted. He knew but in part. He desired, therefore, to know more of . . .
the glory of his person,
the riches of his grace,
the magnificence of his work,
the excellency of his natures,
the majesty of his kingdom!

Everything in Christ interested Paul. Creation was good — but to him, grace was better; but Christ was best of all. He was never wearied of thinking of Christ, speaking of Christ, or learning of Christ. He went on with his work, he went on his way, with the desire constantly rising in his heart, "That I may know Him!"

Beloved, how is it with you? Do you sympathize with Paul in this desire of his heart? Is it your daily wish, ardent desire, and constant aim — to know more of Jesus?

Throughout eternity we shall be learning Christ!

He is the lesson placed before us in the church on earth;
and he is the lesson placed before the church in Heaven.

Time is given us to learn Christ — and, blessed be God,
eternity will be given to us to learn Christ also.

Nothing endears eternity to me like this — it will be spent in learning, enjoying, and honoring Christ!

Secondly, he says, "That I may WIN Christ!" (Philippians 3:8.) He was not merely satisfied to know Christ, as the property of someone else; he wanted Christ as his own! He was not only willing to receive Christ as a free gift — but he would win Christ as a prize.

Was Christ to be run for — then he would run.

Was Christ to be wrestled for — then he would wrestle.

Were there any means by which Christ could be obtained, however painful, however costly, however difficult — then Paul would use them!

Did he believe? It was that he might win Christ.

Did he pray? It was that he might win Christ.

Did he preach? It was that he might win Christ.

Did he crucify the old man, mortify the flesh, beat his body and make it his slave? It was that he might win Christ.

Did he suffer the loss of all things, and count them but dung and dross? It was that he might win Christ.

Did he subject himself to stripes, imprisonment, hunger, cold, nakedness, and a martyr's death? It was that he might win Christ.

To possess Christ was his one object, his ruling desire!

Reader, is it your main object and desire?

Are you prepared to part with all for Christ?

Would you take Christ — in exchange for ease, reputation, wealth, labors, sufferings, yes, even death itself? Paul was; and if you are not, his estimates of Christ and yours cannot be the same.

My soul, I charge you — let this be your object, let this be your aim, always and everywhere: to "win Christ!"

Thirdly, "To MAGNIFY Christ!" Hence he says, "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!" (Philippians 1:20, 21)

Paul desired to exhibit and exalt Christ!

If he wrote — he wrote of Christ.

If he spoke — he spoke of Christ.

If he suffered — he suffered for Christ.

If he sorrowed — it was because professors dishonored Christ.

Christ was to him dearer than the apple of his eye — and more precious than all things in earth or Heaven! He would live — if he could honor Jesus; or he would die for him — if that would honor him more. He felt his obligation. He was inflamed with his love. He was a sacrifice on his altar. He was a vessel for his honor. He would go anywhere, he would do anything — if he might but honor Christ. Heartily he would say, "Let the name of Paul perish, if the name of Christ can be magnified thereby!"

To him Christ was, in fact, all and all. He died for Christ; the honor of Christ was the end for which he laid down his life.

My brother, how is it with you?

Does your heart cry, "Oh, that I could honor Christ!"

Does your life make this impression on others, "That man aims to honor Christ!"

Is it your daily cry and prayer, "Let Christ be magnified in me, by me, and through me — in life, in death, in time, and forever!"

Oh my soul, let it be my constant desire and prayer — that Jesus, my Jesus, may be magnified by me!

Fourthly, "To be FOUND IN Christ." (Philippians 3:9). Paul wished to be IN Christ. . .
as Noah was in the ark,
as the man-slayer was in his refuge,
as the jewel is in the cabinet,
and as Christ is in God.

The closest possible union, the nearest and dearest communion — was desired by him.

If he is accepted by God — then he desires to be accepted in the name of Jesus.

If he is justified — then he wishes it to be in the righteousness of Jesus.

If he is sanctified — then he would be so by the Spirit of Jesus.

He would have Paul to be 'nothing' — and Jesus to be 'all'.

In Christ, he knew he would be safe.

In Christ, he felt he would be happy.

In Christ, he was persuaded he would be satisfied.

Christ in Paul was his life.

Paul in Christ was his honor.

Friend, are you IN Christ? Is it your ambition to be found in Christ?

If death finds you — will it find you in Christ?

If justice finds you — will it find you in Christ?

If judgment finds you — will it find you in Christ?

In Christ — you will find God as a Father.

In Christ — you will meet all the saints as your brethren.

In Christ — you will find the angels ministering unto you.

In Christ — death has no sting.

In Christ — the grave has no terrors.

In Christ — the law has no claims upon you.

In Christ — there are no threatenings in God's Word against you.

In Christ — all the promises are confirmed to you.

How glorious to be in Christ! My soul, let this be your daily prayer, "That I may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law — but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

Fifthly, "To be CONFORMED to Christ." (Philippians 3:10). It was not enough to know Christ, to win Christ, to magnify Christ, or to be in Christ; Paul wishes to be LIKE Christ! He would . . .
breathe his spirit,
exhibit his temper,
copy his example, and
be just like Christ!

He desired to be . . .
like Christ in poverty,
like Christ in suffering,
like Christ in death itself.

Paul desired to be exactly like Jesus!

Meek — as Jesus was meek.

Patient — as Jesus was patient.

Loving — as Jesus was loving.

Useful — as Jesus was useful.

In every point resembling him!

What admiration of Christ is here!

What love to Christ!

What self-renunciation!

What power of grace!

What a wonderful transformation! How unlike Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee of the Pharisees, the persecutor of the church, the blasphemer of the Nazarene! What could be more unlike?

Once he saw no beauty in Christ — now he sees nothing but beauty.

Once he could not bear the mention of his name — now he never seems happy, but when pronouncing it.

Once he was exceeding mad against him and his people — now his heartfelt abiding cry is, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings — becoming like him in his death!"

Dear reader, have you ever experienced any such change?

Are you panting, praying, striving to be like Jesus?

Are you willing to be anything that Jesus was — that you may be like him?

Are you willing to suffer even death — that you may be conformed to him?

My soul, this is a very high attainment — aspire to it! Seek grace day by day at the throne of grace — that you may so love, so admire, so adore the Savior — as to desire to be conformed to him in life, in death, and forever!

Sixthly, "To be WITH Christ." (Philippians 1:23).

Paul dearly loved his work.

He was greatly attached to the church — which needed his presence, gifts, and labors.

He deeply sympathized with poor perishing sinners — who needed the gospel.

But such was his love to Jesus, that he felt himself in a great strait, "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" He says nothing about place, or employment, the absence of sorrow, or the possession of joy; his heart was fixed on the person of Christ.

To be with Christ — this was his desire.

To be with Christ anywhere — was enough.

To be with Christ forever — was a sufficient Heaven.

Paul had no idea of the soul sleeping, or of an intermediate state where Christ was not. His idea was, "Absent from the body — present with the Lord!" Therefore he was willing to lay down his body, to put off the tabernacle — if by doing so, he may be with Christ. To be with Christ, to him was far better than life with all its comforts. To be with Christ, to him was far better than the world with all its privileges and pleasures. To be with Christ! This is . . .
the flower of bliss,
the crown of glory,
the perfection of happiness.

To be with Christ! Paul could desire nothing beyond this!

My brother, can you sympathize with Paul here? Does not Jesus sometimes come to you? Are not his visits peculiarly sweet? Do you not, at such times — desire to be forever with him? Do you not? What! a Christian and a stranger to the visits of Jesus — or, enjoy the visits of Jesus, and not desire to be with him forever and altogether? How can one understand this? If one tastes of the grapes of Canaan — one wants to go and see the vineyards. If one obtains a pledge of the inheritance — one wants to go and take full and eternal possession of it.

My soul, you do at times long to depart and be with Jesus! Oh, that this were more frequently my sweet experience! All saints feel this, and, blessed be God, that promise extends to it, "The desire of the righteous shall be granted!" Paul's desire is now realized; and if we desire as he did — ours, too will be realized by and bye!

Seventhly, "To REJOICE in the Day of Christ." (Philippians 2:16) Paul was constantly looking forward to Christ's second coming, and pointing believers to it. He expected great things then, therefore he longed for it, rejoiced in anticipation of it, and prepared to enter into all its glories and joys.

The Day of Christ is that day specially set apart for his glory, when he will openly wed his church, crush under his feet Satan and all his foes, and appear in his own glory, and in his Father's glory too. Such a day has never yet been seen. Such another period, there never will be.

Paul's desire was to meet all his converts then, and present them to his glorious Master. "For what," said he, "is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?" "That you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life — in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing."

Jesus is coming to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all those who believe; and Paul desired to see all his children there, as mirrors to reflect the glory of Jesus, as monuments on which will be inscribed his triumphs. This would add to his joy. This would open sources of unutterable pleasure. This would produce exquisite delight. Happy Paul, the day of Christ will be a triumphant day for you! The coming of Jesus will be a glorious event to you!

Reader, what will it be to you? Do you expect the fulfillment of that sweet passage then — "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear — then you shall also appear with him in glory!"

My soul, I charge you so to live, so to labor, so to suffer, so to believe, and so to die — that you may rejoice in the day of Christ. Look forward to it, as to the day of jubilee, the year of release — and expect grace to be brought unto you at that appearing of Jesus Christ.

We have thus looked at Paul's seven wishes. He had others, no doubt; but these were his principal, his abiding ones. All of Paul's desires are gratified — but one.

Now he knows Christ, not in part — but even as also he is known.

He has won Christ, and possesses him as the prize of his high calling. There is no running, wrestling, or striving now. No, no, Christ is his — in the highest, in the fullest, in the most glorious sense of the term.

He has magnified Christ in his body, both in life and in death; and he now magnifies Christ in glory before thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers!

He is found in Christ. Death found him in Christ, and he said, "I am ready!" The ministering angel found him in Christ and conducted him up to the eternal throne, and there he is in Christ forever!

He is conformed to Christ in holiness, happiness, and glory — as concerning his soul, and will be in reference to his body "at the resurrection of the just."

He is with Christ.

With Christ, in the presence of his Father.

With Christ, in the mansion prepared for him in his Father's house.

With Christ, and with Christ forever!

But the last wish waits to be realized — and it will be soon. For "he who shall come, will come — and will not tarry!" "The Lord my God will come, and all the saints with him!"

The redemption of the body will soon take place — the redemption of the purchased possession will soon be realized; then . . .
the groans of creation will be silenced,
the prayers of the church will be ended,
the promises that refer to that glorious period will be fulfilled,
and the whole earth will be filled with his glory! Then the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea. All flesh will see the salvation of God. The glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together — for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it!

We must close our remarks. A man's state before God, may be known by the nature and character of the abiding desires of his soul. For if as Solomon said, "As he thinks in his heart — so is he;" so we may say, "as he desires in his heart — so is he."

If our desires meet and center in Christ — we must be true Christians. If to know Christ, to win Christ, to magnify Christ, to be found in Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to be with Christ, and rejoice in the day of Christ's second coming — are the desires of our souls — then we are as really Christians as Paul was!

Paul, you see, begins with Christ, goes on with Christ, and ends with Christ. Christ was his Alpha — and Christ was his Omega. Christ was the circle within which he moved, the center to which he constantly tended.

The grace of Christ converted him,
the preaching of Christ employed him,
the power of Christ sustained him, and
the glory promised by Christ attracted him.

Faith in Christ gave him peace,
love
to Christ set him working,
zeal
for Christ stimulated him to persevere, and
the hope of glory promised by Christ, prompted him to press forward with incessant ardor.

Is our religion, then, like Paul's? Is Christ . . .
our Alpha and Omega,
our first and last,
our center and circumference,
our all in all?

Would taking away Christ extinguish our light, destroy our life, and pass sentence of death on all our hopes and joys? If so — then all is well. All is right. As we have, therefore, received Christ Jesus the Lord — so let us walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith as we have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Holy Spirit, glorify Jesus in us, by us, and through us, more and more every day!

"For to me, to live is Christ — and to die is gain!"

 

A Curious Meditation

As I was walking out for exercise in the fields one morning, having been pleading with God to give me some profitable subject for meditation — I suddenly fell into this train of thought, which I afterwards wrote down; and, as it may interest and profit some, it is here inserted.

There are three things which I especially desire:
more communion with God,
more likeness to the Lord Jesus, and
more usefulness to his Church.

There are three things which I deprecate:
the withering of my gifts,
the decay of my graces, and
to become useless in the Lord's vineyard.

There are three things which I dread:
that I should become a proud professor,
that I should become a lukewarm Christian, and
that I should fall into the hands of man.

There are three things which I sometimes wish for (but which God will never grant me on earth):
to be totally free from sin,
to be delivered from a daily cross,
and to be always happy.

There are three things which I feel sure of:
hatred by the world,
opposition by hypocrites, and
love by spiritual believers.

There are three foes which always oppose me:
the world,
the flesh, and
the devil.

There are three friends which will always stand by me:
a peaceful conscience,
the bride of Jesus, and
the Lamb of God.

There are three deaths which have been experienced by me:
a death in sin,
a death to sin,
a death to the law of God.

There are three lives which shall be lived by me:
a temporal life,
a spiritual life, and
an eternal life.

There are three things which burden me:
a body of sin and death,
the opposition I meet with, and
my own ingratitude.

There are three things which support me:
the Father's love,
the Son's redemption, and
the Spirit's work.

There are three things which are a sore trial to me:
an irritable temper,
a flippant tongue, and
self-love.

There are three things which bring strong consolation to me:
the open fountain of Christ blood,
the promises of God, and
the Savior's free invitation.

There are three things which are especially dear to me:
the Word of God,
the throne of grace, and
the ordinances of the Lord's house.

There are three things lacking in me:
perfect penitence,
entire resignation, and
fervent love.

There are three books which are very useful to me:
the book of nature,
the book of Holy Scriptures, and
the book of my own experience.

There are three teachers which are employed to instruct me:
the Holy Spirit,
a special providence, and
the rod of God.

There are three things which are manifested in me:
the nature of sin,
the power of grace, and
the faithfulness of God.

There are three things which would be greatly useful to me:
more humility,
spiritual wisdom, and
enlightened zeal.

There are three things which characterize me:
weakness,
poverty, and
sinfulness.

Yet, there are three things which may be seen in me:
Christ's strength,
God's grace, and
the Spirit's holiness.

There are three things which are feared by me:
a stiff neck,
a hard heart, and
a presumptuous spirit.

There are three things which are matter of joy to me:
the conversion of sinners,
that my name is written in heaven, and
the glory to be given me at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

There are three things which must be renounced by me:
preconceived opinions,
worldly wisdom, and
natural religion.

There are three things which must be held fast by me:
the Word of truth,
my confidence in God, and
my profession of the gospel.

There are three things which are especially required of me:
to do justly,
to love mercy, and
to walk humbly with my God.

There are three things which are promised to me:
tribulation in the world,
sufficient strength in Jesus, and
eternal life at the end of my course.

There are three things which the Lord observes and approves in me:
the work of faith,
the labor of love, and
the patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a threefold deliverance which is effected for me:
from the dominion of sin,
from the present evil world, and
from my deserved doom.

There are three things which I would trample under foot:
unfounded prejudice,
vain distinctions, and
self-righteousness.

There are three things which I would aim at daily:
to exalt Christ,
to glorify God, and
to bring sinners to repentance.

There are three things which are still sure to me:
a rough road,
changing experiences, and
safety at last.

There are three things which are behind me:
a wicked life,
a broken law, and
the pit of destruction.

There are three things which are before me:
death,
perfect conformity to Jesus, and
eternal glory.

There are three things which are on my right hand:
Satan to resist me,
the Lord Jesus to save me, and
my own heart set on things above.

There are three things which are on my left hand:
the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eye, and
the pride of life.

There are three things which I greatly admire:
the Savior's person,
the promises of God, and
the instruments he employs in carrying on his work.

There are three things which much please me:
the doctrines of the gospel,
the witness of the Spirit, and
the light of God's countenance.

There are three things which I delight in:
that Jehovah is my God,
the comfort he imparts to me, and
the riches of glory which are set before me.

There are three things which I hate:
the cant of hypocrites,
the flattery of friends, and
the pride of professors.

There are three things which are good for me:
to draw near to God,
to be afflicted, and
to sing praises unto the Lord.

There are three things which often disgust me:
Satan's temptations,
the powerful working of unbelief, and
the conduct of religious professors.

There are three things which are prescribed to me:
to believe in God,
to love the saints, and
to observe the Lord's ordinances.

There are three things which are too often neglected by me:
self-examination,
diligent reading of the Bible, and
secret prayer.

There are three things which are too deep for me to fully know:
the depravity of my heart,
the devices of Satan, and
the manner of the Spirit's working.

There are three things which I wish to leave with the Lord:
to choose my lot in life,
to fight my battles, and
to supply all my needs.

There are three things which I do not consider worth having:
a form of godliness, without the power,
a name to live, while dead, and
the commendation of the enemies of Christ.

There are three things in which I glory:
the cross of Christ,
my saving knowledge of God, and
the everlasting gospel.

There are three things which have been taken from me:
proud free will,
vain boasting, and
enmity to God.

There are three things which abide with me:
faith,
hope, and
charity.

I am made up of three men:
corruption — the old man,
grace — the new man, and
the body — the outward man.

I fill a threefold office:
a prophet in the Church of Christ,
a priest before the altar, and
a king anointed to reign with Christ.

I wear a threefold garment:
the righteousness of the Lord Jesus,
the graces of the Holy Spirit, and
the garment of humility.

I have been condemned in three courts — and yet justified in them all:
the court of conscience,
the Church of God, and
the court of God's justice.

I have been justified three times:
at the resurrection of Christ my substitute,
when faith received his righteousness, and
when good works justified my faith before the world.

I am the subject of a threefold sanctification:
by the purpose of the Father,
by the blood of the Son, and
by the cleansing operations of the Holy Spirit.

I am a free man of three cities:
the present world,
the church below, and
the Jerusalem which is above.

I have been an eye-sore to three parties:
the devil,
the world, and
envious professors.

I shall have occupied three peculiar seats:
a dunghill by nature,
among the princes in the Church by grace, and
the throne of glory by special privilege.

I shall have three grand holidays:
one when the Holy Spirit sets my soul at liberty,
another when death sets me free from this mortal clay, and
and another when Jesus comes to be glorified in his saints.

I shall then have appeared in three different characters:
a vile rebel against God,
a supplicating sinner at mercy's footstool, and
a justified son of God before his throne.

I shall have had three fathers:
a human father,
the devil, and
Jehovah himself.

I shall have received three laws:
the law of nature,
the moral law of God, and
the law of the Spirit of life.

I shall have passed through three gates:
the gate of hope,
the gate into Christ's sheepfold, and
the gate of death.

I shall have walked in three ways:
the broad road of destruction,
the highway of holiness, and
Jesus Christ the only way to the Father.

I shall have conversed with three distinct classes of beings:
carnal men,
spiritual Christians, and
the Lord himself.

I shall have made three appearances:
once all black — like the devil,
then speckled — with nature and grace, and
then all pure — whiter than the driven snow!

I shall have undergone three momentous changes:
one at regeneration — when I passed from death unto life,
one at death — when my soul shall be admitted into Heaven, and
one at the resurrection — when my body shall be raised powerful, glorious, and immortal.

I view three things as pre-eminently excellent:
the fear of the Lord,
a sound judgment, and
Christ formed in the heart, as the hope of glory.

There are three things which I may covet:
the best gifts,
a contrite and humble spirit, and
to be filled with all the fullness of God.

There are three things which are removed from me:
the burden of sin,
the wrath of God, and
all condemnation.

There are three things which I do not know:
what is before me,
how God will provide for me, and
what I shall be.

There are three things which I do know:
that in my flesh dwells no good,
that though I was once blind, now I see, and
that I must needs die.

There are three things which are prepared for me:
a fountain to cleanse me,
a robe to adorn me, and
a mansion to receive me.

There are three things which await me:
a crown of righteousness,
a palm of victory, and
a throne of glory.

There are three things which shall be done for me:
God shall wipe away all tears from my eyes,
God shall remove all cause of pain and sorrow from my nature, and
the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall eternally satisfy me.

There are three things which shall never be known by me:
the frown of divine justice,
the curse of holy Jehovah, and
the power of God's anger.

There are three things which are hurtful to me:
carnal ease,
the flattery of professors, and
fullness of bread.

There are three things which benefit me:
temptation,
affliction, and
opposition.

There are three things which are pursued by me:
to know more of the Lord,
to live in peace with all men, and
thorough sanctification.

Satan tries to thwart me in three things:
by spoiling my comforts,
hindering my usefulness, and
seeking to devour my soul.

Satan has three things to expect:
to be disappointed of his prey,
to be judged by the saints, and
to be eternally punished for his wickedness.

There are three things which I would never trust:
my own heart,
an arm of flesh, and
my treacherous memory.

There are three subjects which I should never meddle with:
the fall of the angels,
the origin of moral evil, and
how God will justify himself.

There are three things which I cannot understand:
the nature of God,
the cause of my election, and
how divinity and humanity constitute one person.

There are three things which I should often think of:
what I have been,
what I now am, and
what I shall be.

A threefold freedom is granted me:
from the law of God,
from the reign of sin, and
to make use of, and enjoy the Lord Jesus.

I am an heir of three worlds:
the natural,
the spiritual, and
the eternal.

There are three things which will never grieve me:
that I have been poor in this world,
that I have preached the gospel fully, and
that I am related to Jesus Christ.

There are three things which comprise all I wish:
to know God, and glorify him,
to see Jesus, and be like him; and
to be united to the saints, and be eternally happy.

There are three things which shall never be heard by me:
Christ reproaching me,
God disowning me, and
the devils triumphing in my everlasting destruction.

There are three things which shall be eternally enjoyed by me:
the love of God,
the presence of Jesus, and
the company of the saints.

There are three things which will eternally delight me:
to be filled with holiness,
to be employed in praising Jehovah, and
to have gained a complete victory over all my foes.

There are three things which must come down:
the pride of men,
the devil's kingdom, and
the cause of error.

There are three things which will stand:
the house built on the Rock,
the purpose of God, and
the Messiah's kingdom.

There are three things which cannot be removed:
the church of God,
the covenant of grace, and
the kingdom we receive.

There are three things which will stand the fiery trial:
genuine faith,
the Word of God, and
a real Christian.

Lost sinners are like Satan in three things:
their nature,
their employment, and
their end.

Three things make Hell:
the wrath of God,
the stings of a guilty conscience, and
black despair.

Three things prove a man a Christian:
worshiping God in the spirit,
rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and
having no confidence in the flesh.

Three things are never satisfied:
a doubting Christian,
a worldly miser, and
the man of pleasure.

Christ fills three offices:
a prophet — for the ignorant,
a priest — for the guilty, and
a king — for the depraved.

Christ has been in three states:
ancient glory,
deep humiliation, and
merited dignity.

What more shall I say!

If you, reader, are a sincere Christian — do three things daily:
search God's Word,
be much at God's throne, and
be diligent in God's work.

If you are an unconverted sinner — do three things immediately:
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
repent of every sin you have committed,
seek the witness and pledge of the Holy Spirit in your heart, so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

 

Abide with Me

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine — neither can you, unless you abide in Me." John 15:4

Union with Christ is one of the greatest privileges of the believer; and to be one with Christ is the privilege of every believer. Nor ought anyone who professes religion to be satisfied without knowing, and daily realizing — that he is one with Christ. Our comfort, our stability, and our usefulness, very much depend on this.

The union between Christ and His people is represented by Himself by the figure of a vine and its branches; teaching us that our union with Him is as real, as close, and as necessary — as the union of the branch with its parent stem. O what a glorious privilege to be one with Christ! Thus . . .
receiving all our supplies from Christ,
partaking of the nature of Christ,
bearing fruit like Christ,
being absolutely dependent on Christ for all our spiritual life, vigor, and strength. Being one with Christ, our Beloved Lord gives us this gracious and necessary direction, "Abide in Me."

Let us make this the great object of our lives, and keep it constantly before our minds. And in order that we may be enabled and encouraged to abide in Jesus — let us consider . . .
what it supposes,
what it requires, and
what it secures.

Holy Spirit, as the glorifier of Jesus — be our teacher:
unfold the truth to our understandings,
apply it to our hearts, and
write it in large characters upon our memories.

What does abiding in Christ suppose? Of course, that we are engrafted into Him by a true and living faith, and that we rest alone on Him for our acceptance with God; for unless we are in union with Christ — we cannot abide in Him. But being in Christ, in order to our actual and experimental abiding in Him — we must daily feel our need of Him. One great part of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart is to . . .
empty us,
strip us of self,
lead us to feel our own weakness,
and bring us as poor sinners to look to Jesus alone, as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

And just in proportion as we feel our need of Christ, and realize our absolute nothingness without Christ — shall we prize Him, enjoy Him, and exercise dependence upon Him.

As we must daily feel our need of Christ — so also we must have a scriptural knowledge of Christ. Just in proportion as we know Christ — shall we make use of Him, cleave to Him, and rejoice in Him. Well did the Apostle know how necessary the knowledge of Christ was, and therefore he prayed for the Ephesians, who knew so much of Christ already, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, would give unto them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." And giving expression to the desire of his own soul, he exclaimed, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto his death."

O how little do many of us know of Christ, and therefore it is that we make so little use of Christ, receive so little from Christ, and do so little for Christ! Our sense of our need of Christ, if it is deep and increasing — will lead us to seek to know more of Christ; and knowing more of Christ, we shall daily come to Christ for all our supplies.

This is the next prerequisite to our abiding in Christ, we must come to Him. We come to Him at first — as poor, lost, helpless sinners, that we may be saved by his merit and mercy. And as believers, we must continually come to Him . . .
with all our burdens — that He may bear them;
with all our cares — that He may manage them;
with all our sorrows — that He may sanctify them;
with all our foes — that He may conquer them;
with all our sins — that He may cleanse them;
and with all our needs — that He may supply them.

All that we need is in Christ — and it is in Christ, for us. Our deep necessity fits us for Christ — and His infinite fullness fits Him for us! Our trials, troubles, temptations, disappointments, and vexations — are to teach us our need of Christ; and what we receive from Christ is to make all these things blessings to us.

Fellowship with Christ is necessary to our abiding in Christ. Peter describes the Christian life thus: "Coming to Him as to a living stone . . . you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:4-5

If therefore we would abide in Jesus, we must more and more feel our need of Him; we must increase in our knowledge of Him; we must seek all our supplies from Him; and realize that we are in union with Him!

What does abiding in Christ require? Many things — and we will notice a few of them. We must think of Him, or exercise the intellect upon Him. As we are capable of thinking, and have the power of fixing our thoughts upon an object — we must make Christ the great object of our thoughts, and think of Him. That we think of Christ so little, so seldom — is one great reason why we enjoy Christ so little.

Beloved, we should think . . .
of His glorious person;
of His free and abounding grace;
of His infinite and everlasting merit;
of His deep and tender sympathy;
of His authority and unlimited dominion;
and of His eternal and changeless love!

We should think. . .
of what He was in glory;
of what He became on earth;
of what He did while here below;
of what He suffered on our behalf; and
of what He is now doing at the right hand of God.

We should think of . . .
His nature,
His offices,
His relations, and
His glorious second advent!

Oh, how much there is in Jesus to occupy our thoughts, and feast our souls! Is it not astonishing that we do not think of Him more? Never, never, shall we enjoy deep spirituality; or rise ahove our doubts and fears; or rejoice in God; or be very useful among our fellow-men — unless we think of Christ more!

As we must think of Christ — so we must hear and read of Christ. The senses should be employed on Christ, as well as the intellect. If we can hear at all — we should go where we can hear of Christ, not only on the Lord's day — but on other days too. If we can read at all, we should read of Christ; and as Christ is the most important subject, and as we are more deeply interested in Him than in anything else — we should read of Him most. It is one thing to read religious books — and quite another thing to read of Christ; for many religious books have very little of Christ in them. Nor should we so much read what man says of Christ — as what God says. God's own book should be our book, and we should read it, that we may know more of Christ, and become more like Christ.

We shall never abide in Christ as we ought, unless we hear more of Christ, read more of Christ, and think more of Christ. But we must not stop at thinking, hearing, or reading of Christ — we must actually commune with Christ. There is often much prayer — and yet little communion with Christ. We should realize that Christ is present with us. That we are alone with Him. That he is giving us His whole attention. That he expects us to tell Him . . .
all that troubles us,
all that grieves us,
all that pleases us,
all that we need, and
all that we desire.

We should keep back nothing from Him — but speak to Him freely on every subject, and every circumstance. And realizing that Christ is with us, listening to us, and by sympathy entering into all our circumstances — we should expect to receive . . .
intimations of His will,
proofs of His approbation,
communications of His grace, and
the consoling influences of His love.

Our thoughts should ascend to Jesus, and His thoughts should descend and take possession of our minds. Without more direct, sensible, and secret communion with Christ — we shall not much enjoy our union with Christ, or attend to the admonition to abide in Him.

Having communion with Christ — we must trust Him. He requires us . . .
to treat Him with confidence;
to believe what He says;
to expect what He promises;
to do what He bids us.

We must trust him with the salvation of our souls, and having put them into His hands, having committed them to His keeping — we should rest satisfied that He will save them. We must trust Him with the body as well as the soul, believing that He feels an interest in the one as well the other. Yes, we must ask Him to work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure; to fulfill in us all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power. And we must trust for temporal concerns also, looking to Him for food and clothing, as well as for grace and glory.

We do not half trust the Savior as we ought. Our confidence in Him is not worthy of Him. Our doubts, fears, and misgivings dishonor Him. Let us therefore seek grace that we may trust in Him at all times; trust Him for all, and trust Him notwithstanding all.

As we must trust Jesus, so we must identify our cause with His. Christ and His people are one. As the branch and the vine are one, as the members and the head are one, as the building and the foundation are one — so Christ and his people are one. He has identified Himself with them — and they should identify Him with themselves. He has identified His cause with theirs — and they should identify theirs with His. Jesus takes an interest in all that concerns them and theirs — and they should take an interest in all that concerns Him and His. "You are not your own, you are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your bodies and in your spirits, which are His."

Christ says, "My person, My obedience, My grace, My Spirit, My word, My wealth, My glory — is yours! You shall taste My sorrows now — and share in My throne, kingdom, and glory by and by." We therefore should say, "My person, my property, my time, my talents, my influence, my all — is yours. You, O my Savior, shall be honored by . . .
my poverty or wealth,
my adversity or prosperity,
my sickness or health,
my life or my death.

I will be for You, and for You alone now — as I hope to be with You and like You forever.

Beloved, let us think of Christ more,
let us read of Christ more,
let us commune with Christ more, and
let us identify ourselves with the cause of Christ
 — so shall we abide in Him.

What will abiding in Christ secure?

1. It will secure our safety. Noah was not so safe in his ark; Lot was not so safe in Zoar; the man-slayer was not so safe in the city of refuge — as the true believer is in Christ. Abiding in Christ, to him there is no condemnation; every sin is pardoned; the whole, the perfect, the glorious righteousness of Christ is his! All the glorious perfections of His nature are thrown around the man who abides in Him. He is . . .
safe from Satan, who cannot destroy him;
safe from sin, which shall not have dominion over him;
safe from men, for no weapon formed against him shall prosper;
and safe from death, for Jesus has said, "He who keeps My sayings shall never taste of death." In Christ! his person is secure.

2. Abiding in Christ — all things work together for his good. Happy believer, no one shall ever pluck you out of your Redeemer's hands, or sever you from your Savior's love! Abiding in Christ will not only secure our safety — but our happiness! Happy, thrice happy is the man who is in Christ.

He is not only pardoned — but justified;
not only justified — but accepted and pleasant in the sight of God;
not only accepted — but adopted, and is God's beloved child;
not only a beloved child — but an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ!

Is it not enough to make a man happy, to know that God . . .
has blotted out all his sins;
has given him a glorious, eternal inheritance;
and never looks upon him, but as in Christ, nor treats him otherwise than as a beloved child?

3. Abiding in Christ not only fixes us in a happy state — but secures our supplies. All that we need for the body and for the soul, for life and in death — is provided for us, secured to us, and will be conferred upon us — as we need it. O how precious the Apostle's words to the Philippians: "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!" Well may our beloved Lord say, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." (Matthew 6:34.)

Beloved,
the God who has numbered the very hairs of our heads;
the God who has redeemed our souls from everlasting death;
the God who has made us so one with His Son, that we are forever united with Him
 — this God has provided for all our needs, has promised to supply all our needs, and will be as good as His Word.

4. Abiding in Christ will also secure our usefulness. We long to be useful, and by our usefulness to glorify our God, and honor our beloved Savior. Usefulness does not depend on great gifts, on exalted station, or on bodily vigor; but it does depend very much on our union to Christ, communion with Christ, and abiding in Christ. "He who abides in Me," says Jesus, "and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit." Not only fruit, you see — but much fruit. O if we were living in close and intimate fellowship with Jesus, if we were abiding in Him as the branch in the vine — then how useful we should be!

Let us then be deeply impressed with the consideration that our safety, happiness, supplies, and usefulness — depend on our abiding in Jesus! And just in proportion as we wish to . . .
realize our safety,
enjoy solid happiness,
live without care and anxiety, and
to be useful in our day and generation
 — shall we endeavor to abide in Jesus.

My dear friends, we live in stirring times, everything is full of life and vigor — except the Church of Christ, which ought to be more so than anything else. We hear of the outpouring of the Spirit, and of a great revival of religion in another land, and we need the same blessing in our own. Many seem to be impressed with this fact, and means are being used to obtain such a blessing. But is it not to be feared that many are looking to meetings, to excitement, and to the use of means — rather than to God. And is there not reason to fear that the feelings produced by exciting circumstances and startling news from abroad, will end with them? It is not mere excitement that we need — but something purer, deeper, and more spiritual. We may have physical excitement, mental excitement, and even spiritual excitement — and it may end in nothing. We need deep spirituality. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We need abiding in Christ, that we may . . .
breathe the spirit of Christ,
copy the example of Christ, and
so be extensively useful in the cause of Christ.

Shall we have a revival of pure and undefiled religion? Shall we be instrumental in obtaining and bringing about such a blessed state of things? If so, we must attend to the following things:

First, we must be in Christ. Apart from Christ, without union to Him — we can do nothing in this matter. As poor sinners, we must feel our need of Christ, come to Christ, obtain salvation from Christ, and by faith and love be united to the person of Christ. No union to Christ — no grace, no spiritual life, no acceptance with God, or access with confidence to God. Without union to Christ, we have no power with God; and unless we have power with God, we shall have no power with man for spiritual and saving purposes.

Second, we must be intimate with Christ. We must live by faith in Him. We must walk with Him. We must carry everything to Him. We must seek all we need from Him. We must be constantly . . .
going to Christ,
conversing with Christ,
and obtaining from Christ.

The branch receives from the vine night and day, summer and winter; there is a constant communication from the root, through the trunk to the branches, and hence the buds, the blossoms, and the fruit.

Just so, there must be constant fellowship between Christ and our souls. The more we receive from Christ, the more we can do for Christ. This leads me to observe,

Thirdly, that we must act for Christ. There are many things done by religious people, and in the cause of God — but they are not done for Christ. Jesus could not say, "You did it unto Me." We may act from pity — or from pride, for applause — or to satisfy conscience; but we should act for Christ. The glory of Christ should ever be our aim and end in all our religious actions. As all that Christ did, as the Savior — he did for us; so all that we do as Christians — should be done for him.

Now, unless we are in union with Christ, we cannot be intimate with Christ; so unless we are intimate with Christ, we shall not, in our efforts and endeavors to do good acts for Christ.

Fourth, we must be like Christ. We may possess His nature, for "if any man has not the Spirit of Christ — he is none of His." We must become His disciples, and learn of Him. We must . . .
copy His example,
breathe His spirit,
and imbibe His temper.

Every Christian should represent Christ in the world, in the family, and in the Church of God; and if we do not give a fair representation of Christ — we do not answer the end of our new creation.

Until we are more like Christ, it cannot he said of us, "You are manifestly declared to be the epistles of Christ, written not with ink — but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone — but in the fleshy tables of the heart." O for grace to make us more like Christ.

Finally, we must receive the Holy Spirit from Christ. The Father promised to give His Holy Spirit to the Church. When the Son had finished His work on earth, He went up to Heaven, and received of the Father the promised Spirit. On the day of Pentecost He sent down that Spirit into His Church; and by the wisdom, power, and operations of that Spirit — sinners were converted, the Church increased, and believers were edified.

Now, the great thing we need for ourselves, is the Spirit in His fullness and in power. That fullness and power of the Spirit that we need must be obtained from Christ — but it can only be obtained by close walking with Christ.

The great thing needed by the Church, in order to its union, harmony, and increase — is the Spirit in His fullness and in power. That blessing would . . .
remove our prejudices against each other,
break down all the walls and hedges that keep us asunder,
lead us more fully into the truth,
and fill us with love to one another.

Then we would love one another as Christ has loved us, and this being the case, the Church of Jesus would soon "appear like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession!"

Then the poor, selfish worldlings around us, would be compelled to exclaim, "See how these Christians love one another!" And then the conviction would be forced on every conscience, that the religion of Christ is a divine reality, a holy power, and a supernatural nature. Nothing will impact the world — like the holiness of the Church! This, then, is what we need for the Church — not worldly titles, places, or honors; not worldly wealth, respectability, or distinctions; not so much great gifts, splendid talents, or powerful minds — but the Spirit in His fullness and in power!

This is the great thing needed by the world. It has the Gospel, the Christian ministry, the Church, and all various religious societies — and yet it still lies in the power of the wicked one. There are comparatively few conversions, while multitudes are hardening in sin. Nothing but the Spirit in His fullness and in power — will awaken sinners to a sense of their danger, convince them of sin before God, or lead them to the Cross for life and salvation. The world is God's enemy. The world is governed by Satan. The world hates the light. And in this state it will continue "until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high" — and then there will be deep convictions, numerous conversions, and the glory of the Lord will be revealed.

Reader, are you in Christ? This is a very solemn and important question. Press it home on your heart, nor rest until you can say, "Yes, blessed be God, through free and sovereign grace — Christ and my soul are one!"

If you are in Christ — are you intimate with Christ? Is there a constant fellowship carried on between Christ and your soul, in reference to all things, both temporal and spiritual? Remember, if you are a Christian, the Lord Jesus feels interested in everything that affects you, however insignificant it may appear.

Do you act for Christ? Is the honor and glory of Jesus the great end at which you aim, the chief object which you have habitually in view?

Think for Jesus.

Speak for Jesus.

Act for Jesus.

Let your whole life be consecrated to Jesus.

May you sincerely say, "For to me, to live is Christ!" — and then for you "to die will be gain". Whatever you do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by Him.

Are you like Christ! I think I hear you exclaim, "Oh, how faint the resemblance! If at all like Him — O how little!" Well, friend, if you would be like Christ, you must be much with Christ; and if you are much with Christ, you will in Christ see the glory of God, and be gradually changed "into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

Will you receive the fullness of the Spirit from Christ? He has it. He has promised it. He is prepared to bestow it. But He will have us feel our need of it, ardently long for it, earnestly seek it, and persevere in our applications — until we obtain it. In this way the Spirit in His fullness and power may be obtained — but in no other way. We have not — because we ask not — or because we ask amiss. Let us come to Jesus as poor, empty, needy creatures, and seek until we obtain this invaluable blessing at His hands.

And now to conclude, let us pity the Church — torn and divided, comparatively powerless and feeble as it is. And for the honor of Christ, and out of pure love to the brethren — let us set our hearts upon obtaining the empowering of the Holy Spirit for it, in greater fullness than it has been enjoyed by it in our day.

Let us also look with joy on this poor unhappy world, which lies under sentence of death, only waiting for the day of execution; and let us endeavor to bring down the Holy Spirit upon it, by earnest, united, importunate, persevering prayer! Morning, noon, and night — let us pray for it. In public, in private, and in our families, let us pray for it.

And while we pray that the Holy Spirit may descend upon it, let us speak to all about us of Jesus, and try, as if all depended on our efforts — to save souls from death. The secret of success lies here, in our being united to Christ, abiding in Christ, and acting for Christ; acting for Christ — as if everything depended on what we do — and yet depending upon the Holy Spirit — as if everything depended on His presence, power, and operation alone.

Gracious Lord, make us thorough Christians, and use, oh, use us, to bring about a revival of pure and undefiled religion, for Christ's sake! Amen.
 

 

The Bitterness of Sin!

"Your ways and your deeds have procured these things unto you! This is your wickedness — it is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!" Jeremiah 4:18

Sin is the most dark subject that can engage our attention — but we have become so familiar with it, that it scarcely affects us at all. Not so the Lord — he calls it 'that abominable thing which he hates.' Yes, God hates nothing but sin — and no one, but for sin. God never hated a sinless being — and he never can. If we could get rid of sin, we would have nothing to fear; therefore we bless God that deliverance from sin is promised.

But sin is not only dangerous — it is bitter, and is the prodigious source of all bitterness! Hence the language of the prophet, "It is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!" Jeremiah 4:18. It is called the root of bitterness. It may appear pleasant at present, and may taste sweet to the depraved palate of the sinner; but as Joab said of war, "It will be bitterness in the end!" Let us therefore think of:

The Bitterness of Sin: Sin is bitter in its NATURE, as it is . . .
a departure from God, the source of all real happiness;
opposition to God
, the giver of all true pleasure;
rebellion against God
, the righteous ruler, who is pledged to punish it;
the degradation of man, who was made in the image of the holy and happy God.

Sin is bitter in its EFFECTS:

Look over the world — all its divisions, confusions, wars, diseases, bloodshed, and cruelties — are but the effects of sin.

Look into families — all the anger, envy, jealousy, enmity, and lack of love — are but the effects of sin.

Look at individuals — all the sufferings of the body, and all the tortures of the soul; all the sorrows of time, and all the agonies of eternity — are but the fruits of sin.

Look at the seeking soul — all his cutting convictions, bitter reflections, stinging remorse, gloomy despondency, and slavish fears — are but the effects of sin.

Look at the believer — all his terrible conflicts, deep depression, gloomy foreboding, and soul-distressing fears — are all the effects of sin.

Indeed whatever is . . .
  dark and dreary,
  distressing and painful,
  alarming and terrible —
is to be traced up to sin!

Every sigh that ever heaved the bosom,
every groan that ever indicated a breaking heart,
every exclamation produced by violent pain
 — all, all are the fruits of sin!

Think of . . .
the millions who have suffered, and are suffering;
the fearful nature and extent of their sufferings;
the agonies experienced on earth;
the horrors endured in Hell — and say,
must not sin, from which all these proceeded, be a bitter thing! But here is:

A Season Assigned: "It reaches unto your heart!"
Sin is not a wound in the flesh — but a disease in the heart!
There it was conceived, there it is nourished, and from thence it flows.

Sin reaches to the heart — and defiles and pollutes it!
Indeed, man's heart is one of the most loathsome and polluted things in God's universe!
There is pollution enough in one human heart, to corrupt and defile the universe!
There is nothing so foul, base, or abominable, in earth or in Hell — but its counterpart is to be found in man's heart!

Sin reaches to the heart — and alienates it from God. It has now . . .
  no sympathy with God,
  no desire to please him,
  no fear of offending him!
Man fears punishment — but he does not fear sin!

Sin reaches to the heart — and distracts it. It has . . .
  no settled peace,
  no holy calm,
  no quiet satisfaction.

The passions are turbulent.

The conscience is defiled.

The will is depraved.

The understanding is darkened.

The memory is a store-house of evil!

Indeed every power and faculty of the soul is injured, perverted, and wrongly influenced — by sin!

Sin reaches to the heart — and damns it! It is condemned already, and if grace does not prevent it — the sentence of condemnation will be executed, and the heart will become the seat of . . .
  the most terrible agony,
  the most torturing pain, and
  the most dreadful despair
 — and that forever!

No lake of fire and brimstone,
no bottomless pit,
no horrible tempest —
can convey to the mind any adequate idea of the horrors of damnation — which are the just desert of sin.

Truly, "it is bitter, and it reaches unto the heart!"

Reader, see how God speaks of sin, your darling sin, that sin which you now value so highly, and enjoy so much: "It is bitter!" Your sin is so bitter, that no tongue or pen can describe it. And what makes it so bitter is that "it reaches to the heart," the seat of life, the source of action, and therefore . . .
  defiles the whole person,
  misdirects the whole life; and
  exposes the whole man to the wrath and curse of God — and to that wrath and curse, forever!

From this bitter root, proceeds . . .
  all the bitter words,
  all the bitter tempers, and
  all the bitter actions —
which make men miserable on earth, and
will make the lost eternally miserable in Hell!

Our one great business therefore, should be to get rid of sin — this root of bitterness! And by faith in the Lord Jesus, which purifies the heart; and by the work of the Holy Spirit, which cleanses and sanctifies the nature — we may get rid of it. Let us therefore seek first, and before anything else — first, and more than everything else — that we may be washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Holy Spirit, convince us of the bitterness of sin! May it . . .
  be bitter to our taste,
  lead us to forsake it in practice, and
  seek to be delivered from its love and power in our experience!
 

 

An Offensive Question

"Look! the man exclaimed. "I told you once. Didn't you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become His disciples, too?"

Then they cursed him and said, "You are His disciple — but we are disciples of Moses!" John 9:27-28

This question was asked to the Jews — by the man whom Jesus had healed of blindness — and it stung them exceedingly! They despised the thought of being the disciples of Jesus.

But this question may, perhaps, be asked to the reader, without giving so much offence. Will you, reader, be the disciple of Jesus?

His wisdom is infinite!

His power is omnipotent!

His authority is universal!

His beneficence is unbounded!

His disposition is most gentle and meek!

He performs the most surprising miracles!

He teaches the most important and valuable truths!

He now sits at the right-hand of God, and he saves all His disciples with an everlasting salvation!

What do you say? Will you be His disciple? If so . . .
you must surrender yourself, and your all, unto Him;
you must be ready to suffer with, and die for Him!
You must be willing to . . .
  embrace His doctrines,
  submit to be ruled by His precepts,
  imitate his example, and
  observe all His institutions!

A true disciple is teachable, and loves His Master above all. He . . .
studies to know His will,
watches His eye,
waits upon Him,
fears to offend Him,
delights to please Him,
confidently trusts Him,
zealously imitates Him,
cheerfully obeys Him,
is most happy when favored with His presence, and
will by no means leave Him — but cleaves to Him with full purpose of heart.

Will you be His disciple? If so, you must obey Him — you must do what He commands . . .
out of respect to His authority,
from love to His will,
from deference to His wisdom,
from zeal for His honor,
with faith in His promise,
fearing His frown.

His commands must rule your heart and life . . .
though your carnal nature may dislike them,
though friends may persuade you to neglect them,
though enemies may oppose and persecute you for regarding them,
and though for a time you may suffer loss for attending to them.

Will you be His disciple? If so, you must unite with those who already sit at His feet, and they are, generally speaking, poor — not many wealthy are called. They are despised — for they walk contrary to the maxims of the world. They are often deeply afflicted, "For whom the Lord loves — He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."

If you will be His disciple, you must forsake . . .
all your present follies,
all your vain companions,
and all your carnal pleasures.

You must publicly profess your faith in, and obedience to Him; and you must engage to attend His worship and support His cause.

Young friend, will you be His disciple? Notwithstanding all that has been said — His disciples are happy; yes, they are the only people who are truly happy. They may be placed in the most painful circumstances, and seem to be most miserable of all men — but there is a secret something within which supports, animates, and cheers them at the worst! The Christian's worst — is better than the worldling's best!

His disciples are all honorable; they are the sons of God, they are kings in their minority, they are the heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — to whom He has willed all His vast and eternal possessions! It will take a whole eternity, to enjoy all that God has given them — all that the blood of Jesus has secured to them!

His disciples are safe, for . . .
He throws around them the shield of His favor;
He places beneath them His everlasting arms;
He keeps fixed upon them His piercing, sleepless eye!

Thousands have entered His school, and been taught by His Spirit! Will you also be His disciples? Abraham was! David was! Paul was! Will you? "This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow!"

He never turned away one who sincerely sought to enter His school. Nor was one ever rejected because He could not teach them His lessons. He receives every applicant — and He makes scholars of all who enter. He teaches them to . . .
avoid sin,
love holiness,
walk with God,
overcome their foes, and
leads them all at length, to sit down in the glorious kingdom of God!

 

The True Remedy!

Nothing is so important when the body is badly diseased — as to procure and apply the right remedy in good time. For lack of this, many have suffered long, and at length died. It was not because there was no remedy — but because they did not know it; or knowing, did not apply it. Just so is it, in reference to spiritual things. We are surrounded by the spiritually diseased, the suffering, and the dying — but there is a remedy! Some imagine that there is none; others are led away by lying advertisements, a few know and employ the true remedy. Let us look at some DISORDERS — and then point out the TRUE REMEDY for them.

1. There is SIN. This is the root and cause of all other diseases and sufferings. No sin — no disease, no suffering, either in this world or in eternity. But even sin, the root of all diseases — is not incurable. Sinners have been cured. Sinners may be cured. It would be infidelity to say of any sinner, where the gospel comes — that his case was desperate. We know of no desperate cases — if the true remedy is employed.

That remedy is the blood of Jesus. Jesus died that we may live. He shed His blood to heal our souls. This is the true balm of Gilead. This is the sovereign catholicon (universal remedy). It is placed within our reach in the everlasting gospel. All we have to do is to fix the eye upon it, place confidence in it, and pray the Holy Spirit to apply it.

We must look away from everything else.

We must fix the eye intently upon it.

We must exercise a steady confidence in it.

We must entreat the Holy Spirit to sprinkle it on our hearts.

And, as soon as ever this is the case . . .
the guilt of sin is removed,
the power of sin is undermined,
the love of sin is destroyed, and
we are perfectly and eternally delivered from all the penal consequences of sin!

There is no remedy for sin — but the blood of Jesus! And that is an infallible remedy! It was never applied in vain — it never can be. It cleanses us from all sin. It justifies us perfectly before God. But to prove its efficacy — we must give up all other medicines! Religious services, sacraments, prayers, praises, priests, and presbyters — all must be renounced, and the blood of Jesus alone must become . . .
the sole object of our trust,
the sole ground of our hope, and
our sole plea for pardon and peace at the throne of grace.

This is the true remedy for both sin and sinners. It is exactly suited to them, for its healing properties are infinite and eternal! It is to be obtained gratuitously, without money and without price — and its efficacy may be proved a thousand times over!

Reader, if you would obtain a full pardon of all sin, perfect peace in the presence of God, and an unquestionable title to everlasting glory — then exercise simple faith in the blood of Jesus, and these invaluable blessings are yours, and yours forever. This is the only true remedy!

2. Another soul-disorder is FEAR, slavish fear! This springs either from . . .
guilt on the conscience,
ignorance of the gospel, or
the lack of simple faith in God, as a covenant God.

The true remedy for fear, is faith in God — in God . . .
as revealed in Jesus;
as pledged to us by his precious promises;
as at peace with us, through the perfect work of His beloved Son.

"Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me," said Jesus. If I believe . . .
that God is love;
that he has received full satisfaction at the hands of His Son for all my sins;
that He will rejoice over me to do me good;
that He will never leave me, nor forsake me;
that He will cause all things to work together for my welfare
 — then how can I fear? What shall I fear? And, as a disciple of Jesus, how can I believe the gospel, the glorious good news — if I do not believe these things? They are spoken to all believers. They are the common property of every member of the living Church of God. Every slavish fear, then — must arise . . .
from taking the eye off the great atonement, or
from not understanding the everlasting gospel, or
from unbelief!

And the true remedy for slavish fear is to . . .
trust simply and entirely to what Christ has done for acceptance with God,
to keep the promises of grace continually before the mind, and
simply believe what God has said, because God has said it. He said it . . .
because He meant it,
because He wished us to believe it, and
because He was willing to give us strong and everlasting consolation.

In every time of trial,
in every season of darkness,
in every severe conflict —
turn then to the Lord's Word, and with David say, "The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge, therefore will we not fear!" Or, "The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?" This is the only true remedy!

Another soul-disorder is anxious care. Worry or anxiety is prohibited by the gospel, because it is injurious to us, and reflects badly upon the care and kindness of God. Yet we, like Martha — are anxious and troubled about many things. We lose sight of the fact that God is our Father, and as such is engaged to provide for us. We forget that we . . .
are in our Father's world,
are living under our Father's eye,
are fed by our Father's hand, and
that our interests lie near our Father's heart!

The true remedy for anxious care is to realize daily, and every hour of every day . . .
that the Lord cares for us,
that he knows where we are, and what we are,
that he has fixed the bounds of our habitation,
that his feeding the sparrows is a proof that he will never neglect His children.

Anxiety! As a believer in Jesus, as a child of God — about what should I be anxious?

God is my Father, and he loves me — loves me just as he loves Jesus.

He cares for me — cares for me as much as he cared for the apostle Paul.

He watches over me, as a tender mother watches over her precious infant.

He keeps me — keeps me as the apple of his eye; and lest anything should hurt me, he will keep me night and day. He bids me cast every care upon him. He exhorts me not to worry about anything — but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, to let my requests be made known unto him.

This is the true remedy for care:
to live in close and intimate fellowship with God, and cast all my cares upon him as they come in;
to live realizing the fact, that I am the object of the constant, tender, loving care of God — that my God cares for me, for my best interests, for my everlasting welfare. Yes, this is the only true remedy!

3. Another soul-disorder is spiritual weakness. This we deeply and daily feel. The longer we live — the weaker we appear to be; that is — we feel and realize our weakness more. When we look at our duties, on our foes, on our difficulties — we feel at times almost overwhelmed under a sense of our weakness! We are not sufficient of ourselves so much as to think a holy thought; and yet . . .
the old man is to be crucified,
Satan
is to be conquered,
the world is to be overcome,
the journey through a waste howling wilderness is to be completed, and the crown is to be won before we wear it.

But there is a remedy for our weakness; it is union to Jesus. When united to Jesus . . .
his wisdom becomes ours,
his righteousness becomes ours,
his strength becomes ours;
his fullness is placed against our emptiness;
his wealth is placed against our poverty; and
his strength is placed against our weakness.

His grace is sufficient for us, and his strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Our needs are to drive us to his fullness;
our weakness is to cause us to lean upon his arm;
and our sense of nothingness to make him all in all.

If I am one with Christ — all that he has is mine!

Let us, then, seek daily to realize our union to Christ — that we are members of his body; and let us obtain mercy and grace from him to help us in time of need. Then our weakness will . . .
endear his strength,
increase our dependence,
stimulate us to earnest fervent prayer,
and glorify the riches of his free grace.

This is the only true remedy!

 

The Physician!

"Those who are whole do not need a physician — but those who are sick." Matthew 9:12

When the Lord Jesus was upon earth, he spent much of his time among the common people. He was often found visiting and teaching those who were considered great sinners. The self-righteous pharisees were offended at this, and they complained of it. "They said unto his disciples: Why does your Master eat with publicans and sinners?" In reply to their question, and in vindication of himself, Jesus said,"Those who are whole do not need a physician — but those who are sick."

No sinner can be really whole — but the pharisees imagined that they were, and so do many now. Such feel no need of the Savior, nor do they really desire a saving interest in him. He is not suited to them. They may speak well of him, as many healthy people do of a physician; but they will not apply to him, nor can they prize him.

Jesus is the friend of sinners. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He is exactly suited to sinners, and he loves to be found among them.

The world is one vast hospital. Jesus is the only physician in it; he has healed thousands, he will heal thousands more; but multitudes reject him, they imagine they can do without him; they think that they are whole, and therefore do not need a physician.
 

Sin is the disease of the soul. The sinner's state is a diseased state. He is sick — mortally sick. His sickness is hereditary. He inherited it from his parents. He brought it into the world with him. That is true of all, which was spoken by David of himself, "Behold I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me!"

Sin is increased by wicked habits. We go astray from the womb, speaking lies. We contract the habit of sinning, so that to sin becomes as natural to us as to breathe. The disease of sin is contagious. We contaminate others, and others increase our sickness. "Bad company corrupts good character."

The progress of this disease is constant — it spreads daily — almost insensibly, and especially from neglect. It produces great weakness, so that the sinner cannot of himself, do anything really good. He must be united to Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit, before he can do anything truly good. "Without me," said the Savior, "you can do nothing."

It not only makes us weak, but stupid — so that we become careless and foolish. We are dying of disease — but are unconcerned about it; there is a skillful Physician at hand — but we refuse to apply to Him!

Sin has destroyed all our moral beauty, and left us loathsome, unsightly, and wretched. It produces innumerable and horrendous pains, and surrounds us with sorrows, cares, and woes.

Sin brings us to death — not only separating the body from the soul — but separating the soul from God!

Sin is the forerunner of eternal and unmitigated weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

There is no sickness is like sin — yet this disease is universal. All are sick! "Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good — not even one!" Romans 3:9-12.

This disease affects every part of man, "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundness in it — only wounds and bruises and putrefying sores!" Isaiah 1:5, 6. Man is one mass of moral disease! Every power and faculty is disordered. All the elements of destruction are within himself. He deeply needs a physician, for he is dreadfully sick; so sick, that there is but a step between him and damnation!

My dear reader, this is your state! The Holy Spirit has given your portrait in the passages you have just read!

Can you recognize the likeness? If not — your eye is diseased!

Do you feel alarmed at the representation? If not — your conscience is diseased!

Are you determined at once to apply to the physician? If not — your heart is diseased!

The plague spot is upon you! You are very far advanced in a moral and spiritual cancer — which is secretly hurrying you to eternal death and damnation! O may the Lord . . .
open your eyes — that you may see your dreadful state;
enlighten your conscience — that you may be alarmed at your condition;
and quicken your soul — that you may repair to Jesus and receive health, healing, and everlasting soundness from His hands!
 

Jesus is a physician. His work is to heal souls. He is every way qualified for His work.

He is a wise and skillful physician. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him — and He employs them for the good of souls. He has been employed in healing sinners for six thousand years — His skill has never been baffled, nor has one patient died under His hand yet!

He is a kind and tender physician. Not one harsh word is ever spoken by Him, to a poor broken-hearted sinner; nor does He ever refuse to attend to any case. His kindness is such — that He weeps with those who weep! And His tenderness is so great — that it is said in reference to all His patients, "In all their afflictions — He is afflicted."

He is a friendly and faithful physician. There is nothing forbidding or austere in His manner, nor does He ever deceive. Friendship has erected her throne in His heart, and built her mansion in His bosom; and He is ever faithful to His word, and to the poor sick sinner who applies to Him.

He is a willing and accessible physician. Willing to heal anyone who is willing to be healed by Him — and to go anywhere to perform His miracles of mercy. As when applied to of old, He said "I will come and heal him!" Just so now! He stoops to the beggar in the dust, and visits the needy on the dunghill. He is always ready at hand. You need no messenger to send and fetch Him — He is within hearing! He is nearer than anyone else — He can hear the softest whisper of the heart!

He is the great physician, no one can be compared to Him for qualifications or success.

He is the good physician, no one beside Him can be found — who so kindly, so freely, and so effectually heals every applicant! His blood is the true balm of Gilead, and He is the skillful physician there.

It is not only His work — but His delight to heal sin-sick souls! And He heals them all freely, certainly, and perfectly! Those whom He restores to health — will enjoy health forever. He makes every one of His patients immortal — and surrounds them with all that can make them holy and happy forever!

Blessed physician, heal my soul! Heal me perfectly! Heal me at once! Heal me in your mercy this moment, and preserve me in health forever!

But many fall into the mistake of the pharisees. They imagine that they are in health; or at least, if not quite healthy, that they are not very sick. This is the very worst symptom of the disease. It proves that they are completely under sin's power; and while they remain in that state, they will never apply to the great physician. They feel secure, while the plague is in the heart. They despise the Savior, or at least, do not think that they need his aid; and therefore they do not call him in. They trust to their own remedies, and thus perish, in their own deceivings.

How lamentable — to die of disease, with the physician in the house, and to die simply because they refuse to apply to him, and prove his skill!

Dear friends, we are all either mortally sick — or under Christ's healing process. Which is it? If you are under the physician's care, then . . .
you have felt your sickness,
you have personally applied to him,
your heart is set against sin, and upon the possession of true holiness, which is health,
you are in some degree weaned from this present evil world,
and you come to the light of God's word, that your deeds may be reproved.

Do you imagine that you are whole? I beseech you to seriously consider this portion of the word of God, "There those who are pure in their own eyes — and yet are not cleansed of their filthiness!" Proverbs 30:12. Are you not in the same condition as the church at Laodicea, the members of which said, "We are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing!" While in reality, they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked? Revelation 3:17.

Do you deeply feel your diseased and disordered state? If so, allow me to recommend to you most earnestly this great physician. Jesus is both able and willing to heal you. He has healed such cases as yours — and He has some in hand now. He will heal you. His terms are, "No Money! No Price!"

Are you healed? Then admire your physician's skill, and recommend him to every poor sick sinner you may meet with.

Are you under His healing process? Then visit him often; carefully attend to his prescriptions; and look for the signs of returning health. Never rest satisfied, until you feel the love of God shed abroad in your heart, and the peace of God keeping your soul as in a garrison!

 

Christ Precious!

"Unto you therefore who believe — He is precious!" 1 Peter 2:7

FAITH in Christ is all important. It is both the gift of God's grace — and yet the exercise of man's heart. It is going to Christ, trusting in Christ, committing the soul to Christ, and relying alone on Christ. Wherever there is faith, there is also unbelief, and these two opposite principles will so contend in the believer's bosom, that he is at times unable to conclude whether he believes or not. At such times, we should repair to God's word, and seeking the teaching of the Holy Spirit, search out the proofs of faith therein contained. Many such proofs are scattered through the word, and they are simple and satisfactory; but I want to confine your attention to one, and a very sweet one, "Unto you therefore who believe — He is precious!"
 

Consider the FACT: Jesus is precious to all believers. He is prized by them, they set a very high value upon him. He is enjoyed by them, yes, there is nothing they enjoy so much. He is an honor to them, and believing on him is an honor to them.

Every believer VALUES Christ. Let others think of him as they may, all who are taught of God, think highly of him. They can never honor him as they wish, or enjoy him to their full satisfaction.

Every believer feels their NEED of him. No weary traveler ever felt his need of rest, no hungry laborer ever felt his need of food, no drowning mariner ever felt his need of a life-boat — as the believer has felt his need of Christ.

They need to be saved — and only Christ can save them.

They need to be happy — and only Jesus can make them happy.

They need his blood to cleanse them from sin, and procure their pardon.

They need his righteousness to clothe their souls, and justify them before God.

They need his Spirit to sanctify their nature, and make them fit for Heaven.

They need his intercession to secure them from evil, and procure for them good things.

They need his fullness of grace to supply all their needs from earth to Heaven.

Every believer discovers the exact SUITABILITY of Christ to them. He is just what they need — He has all that they need.

They are foolish — He has wisdom.

They are unrighteous — and He has righteousness.

They are unholy — and He has holiness.

They are weak — and He has strength.

They are in bondage — and He has redemption.

They are lost — and He has salvation.

In a word, they are led to see that God has stored up everything in Jesus, and that possessing Him — they have all things!

Every Christian believes on Him to the saving of the soul. They trust Him to procure their pardon, peace with God, and everlasting life.

Their heart goes out to Him,
they repose confidence in Him,
they commit their souls to Him,
they build on Him — as God's foundation;
they hide in Him — as the sinner's refuge; and
they trust themselves with Him — as the almighty Savior.

This is faith, and to all who have this faith — Jesus is precious. But He is only precious to believers. Others do not feel their need of him, do not see his adaptation to them, and do not depend on him for pardon, peace with God, and everlasting life.

The apostle gives certain reasons WHY Christ is precious to believers; let us look at:
 

The REASONS why Christ is precious. God has laid him for a FOUNDATION. He is the one foundation of the church, on which the whole building rests, and from which it derives safety. He is the only foundation of a sinner's hope. On him we must build for eternity — and on him alone. He is the foundation of every believer's hope. Only by building on Jesus — will hope spring up in the soul, cheering and comforting the heart.

He is the CHOSEN of God. Chosen to be the Savior. Chosen to be the center of attraction, the source of supply, and the author of eternal salvation — unto all those who obey him. He was chosen to be the storehouse of blessings, out of which all who believe in his name shall be supplied. "For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell."

He is the CORNERSTONE. That which unites all believers together as one living temple, and keeps them together to be a habitation of God through the Spirit. The union, the strength, and the beauty of God's church, arises from Christ being the cornerstone. He unites all the parts together, and the whole church to God. He preserves all who believe on him from apostasy, shame, and danger. "He who believes on him shall not be confounded." Every believer shall be bold in the judgment, confident in God, and safe — let whatever will come on the earth. Now, as God's foundation of our hope; as God's elect, or chosen one; as the glorious uniting cornerstone of the whole church; and as the Savior from confusion, shame, and danger — He is precious to every believer.
 

These are some SEASONS in which Christ is especially precious:

Christ is especially precious when the soul is first converted. When it emerges from darkness to light. When it sees Jesus as the only and all-sufficient Savior. When venturing on him — it enjoys peace, liberty, and joy in the Holy Spirit. It sees that all flows from Jesus, and deeply feels its obligation to Jesus. But for Jesus, all it could look for would be condemnation, death, and Hell! Through Jesus it enjoys justification, eternal life, and a good hope of Heaven. O how precious does this render the Savior!

Christ is especially precious to believers — when the emptiness of the world is discovered. The soul having tried the world, has found it . . .
false and fickle,
an empty cistern,
a dry well,
a cloud without water,
only vanity and vexation of spirit!

The Christian has experienced that . . .
the world's pleasures — end in pain,
its honors — end in disgrace,
and its wealth — ends in absolute poverty.

Now turning from the world, to Jesus — it finds . . .
solid happiness,
substantial pleasure,
full supplies.

It obtains . . .
a deep and lasting peace which passes all understanding,
unsearchable riches in Christ, and
honors which will never pass away.

O how precious is Jesus, when this world appears to be a valley of tears! Almost everything earthly is at times calculated to . . .
cause sorrow,
fill us with sadness,
and draw forth tears.

Losses, crosses, disappointments, and bereavements — all conspire to make us sad. Earth is to us a Valley of Achor — the place of trouble and sorrow.

Now turning to Jesus, we find a friend who loves at all times, and a brother born for adversity.

He makes up for every loss,
He sanctifies every disappointment,
and He fills for us every relation.

His presence is . . .
like a flowing spring — in a dreary desert,
like a cheering fire — on a piercing winter's night,
and like a happy home — to the exhausted traveler.

O how precious is Jesus now!

Christ is especially precious at the throne of grace. What could we do without Jesus there? What could we plead? Realizing this, and perceiving the infinite worth and worthiness of Jesus, and his glorious sacrifice, and believing that he stands between us and his Father's justice, how precious Jesus is! We dare not go to the throne without him, nor expect the least blessing but through him, and for his sake; but with him, and through him, we may expect the greatest, the richest, the best blessings, which God can bestow!

Christ is especially precious in seasons of sickness. When shut out from the world, and obliged to be much alone. When exercised with strong pain, or extreme weakness. Then, to lie on the sick pillow and meditate on . . .
what he is,
what he has done,
what he is doing, and
what he has promised to do
 — is indeed sweet.

One promise dropped by him into the heart, will raise us above pain and fear, and fill us with patience, fortitude, and courage.

Christ is especially precious when Satan comes to harass us, and reflections on the sins and infirmities of our past lives, are calculated to deject and cast us down.

Christ is especially precious in the hour of death. However much we may need Christ in life — we shall need him more in death. He is the only antidote of death. He alone can give us victory over it. He alone can make us triumph in it.

How precious have multitudes found Jesus to be in the dying hour! They have been able to defy its power, smile at its pains, and court its final stroke! Through him they have cried, and cried in tones of triumph, "O death, where is your sting! O grave, where is your victory!" Yes, when earth appears to be receding, and eternity drawing very near to us. When every earthly prop gives way. When clear light shows us that our very best works are but splendid sins. O how precious is Jesus then!

His blood and obedience, his word and his grace, his faithfulness and sympathy, are unutterably precious!

Beloved, do you have this faith, which, renders Christ so precious? If so, admire the sovereign and distinguishing grace of God, which has conferred so great a blessing upon you — for not all are given saving faith.

Honor the Holy Spirit, by whose operation this faith was produced in you.

Realize the importance of this faith, which renders Christ so precious.

It is the eye — which sees the beauty of Christ.

It is the foot — which travels to Christ.

It is the hand — which lays hold of Christ.

It is the mouth — which tastes the sweetness of Christ.

It is the inward principle — which clings and cleaves to Christ.

Avoid therefore whatever weakens faith, or interrupts its exercise; and prize whatever strengthens it, and makes it vigorous!

If you do not have this faith, or if you doubt whether you have or not — cry mightily to God, to send the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of faith to produce, or increase it, in you.

If you do not have high and honorable thoughts of Christ,
if you do not prize him as the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely,
if you do not depend entirely on his precious blood and finished work, for your salvation
 — whatever 'faith' you may have — is not that faith which distinguishes God's elect, which is of the operation of God, and to which the promise of salvation is made. Look well to it, therefore, that you have this faith, that you believe on the Son of God, that you believe that Jesus is the Christ, and trust in him, and love him accordingly, for, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God."

 

Christ All in All!

When the Holy Spirit works in our hearts as the glorifier of Jesus — he always lays us in the dust and endears the Savior to our souls. We are then sure to get some fresh views of him, and he is in our estimation divinely sweet and glorious. Then we desire, above all things, to exalt and glorify him, and to be useful to his cause and people. We long for others to see him just as we do, feeling persuaded that if they did — they must love, delight in, and adore him. He appears so suitable, and is in every view we take of him so precious.

If we look at his PERSON, we see our nature exalted and united to the Divine; and as the God-man, he is altogether lovely and glorious. We behold in Him, all the solemn and amiable attributes of Godhead, united with all the sinless passions and affections of humanity! And, while we view the Divine perfections and human passions united in his blessed person — we feel glowing love, and realize inseparable union — and the joy is sweeter than human tongue can express.

His very nature is love, he possesses a fullness of grace, and his heart overflows with mercy. Hence, his every action, dispensation, and word . . .
is mixed with love,
exhibits grace, and
displays mercy.

He is most compassionate, full of pity, and tenderly sympathetic; and he has displayed and proved it in the most remarkable manner!

This was compassion like a God,
That when the Savior knew
The price of pardon was his blood,
His pity ne'er withdrew!

If we look at his precious NAMES, every one of which is calculated to endear him to our hearts — he appears altogether suitable and glorious.

He is called JESUS, because he came into our world on purpose to save sinners, and raise them to glory and immortal life.

He is called CHRIST, because he was anointed, appointed, and commissioned to save. He engaged in the everlasting covenant, he was promised to the Old Testament saints, and he appeared in the fullness of time. He was anointed . . .
to teach the ignorant,
to atone for the guilty, and
to rule over all who are saved by his grace.

He is called IMMANUEL, God with us — to show that he is able to save all who come unto God by him, and to manifest the depth of his condescension and the strength of his love.

His names are numerous, everyone of them is full of meaning, and the whole united, prove him to be superlatively excellent, and glorious beyond our powers of description!

Not softest strains can charm my ears,
Like his beloved name;
Nor anything beneath the skies inspire
My heart with equal flame!

If we look at his OFFICES — it endears him to our hearts.

He appears as a PROPHET, to . . .
instruct the ignorant,
lead the blind, and
make the foolish wise.

He . . .
unfolds the Father's mind,
opens the everlasting covenant,
and teaches all his people to profit.

He is a PRIEST, to . . .
atone for the guilty,
reconcile those who are enemies, and
intercede on behalf of transgressors.

He . . .
satisfies justice,
magnifies mercy, and
brings a holy God and polluted sinners into an honorable union.

He is a KING, and as such he . . .
receives the discontented,
rules over innumerable penitent criminals,
and defends all his subjects from danger.

His power is omnipotent,
his resources are boundless,
his government is peaceful, and
all the statutes of his kingdom are wise, merciful, and just.

Not health, nor wealth, nor sounding fame,
Nor earth's deceitful empty name,
With all its pomp and all its glare,
Can with a precious Christ compare!

If we look at the RELATIONSHIPS of Christ to his people — he rises in our estimation.

He is our FATHER — to pity the poor returning prodigal, to care for all who depend on his Word.

He is our HUSBAND — to love, cherish, and honor his beloved blood-bought bride. He loves her as he loves himself, treats her with unutterable kindness, and will allow nothing to separate her from his love.

He is our elder BROTHER, who possesses our nature — and feels deeply interested in the welfare of every brother and sister. For all he has made provision, to everyone has given promises, and the whole shall ultimately enjoy the best part of God's universe through his grace. He identifies his interests with ours, pleads the cause of his brethren in disgrace, and will raise the low-fallen family — to honor and renown. This causes us to sing —
Jesus my shepherd, husband, friend,
My prophet, priest, and king,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring!

If we look at the COMPARISONS which are made use of by the Holy Spirit to set Christ forth — we behold something more of His loveliness.

He is compared to a MOTHER, and is said to have more than a mother's tenderness, kindness, and care.

His concern for His people is constant,
He never loses sight of them for a moment, and
He pledges His Word that He will never forget them!

He is the CITY of REFUGE, with . . .
the broad and clear road,
the gates wide open, and
the hearty welcome awaiting every sinner who approaches to escape the threatened vengeance!

He is the STRONGHOLD, which emboldens, supplies, and secures all the prisoners of hope.

He is the ROCK, which shades, shelters, and refreshes the weary traveler.

He is the DAY-STAR, which betokens brighter scenes, and guides the vessel of mercy across the boisterous deep — to the haven of perfect redemption and safety.

He is the SUN of RIGHTEOUSNESS, whose rising . . .
cheers the benighted pilgrim,
makes glad the weary citizen of Heaven, and
produces moral beauty and fruitfulness in our world.

He is the APPLE-TREE among the trees of the forest . . .
whose blossoms are beautiful,
whose shade is refreshing, and
whose fruit is sweet to the taste.

He is the BREAD of LIFE, which came down from Heaven . . .
satisfying the hungry,
strengthening the weak, and
giving life unto the world.

He is the WATER of SALVATION, which . . .
cleanses the filthy,
refreshes the weary, and
makes glad the city of God.

He is the WAY, which alone leads from sin, condemnation, and wrath — to life, holiness, and Heaven!

He is the HEAD, which thinks, plans, and contrives for the welfare of the whole of His mystical body.

He is the DOOR, which admits to . . .
the pastures of Divine truth,
the privileges of His Church below,
and His Father's glorious presence!

He is the FOUNDATION on which all must build for eternity, and which alone is able to support our hopes and sustain our souls — amidst the wreck of matter and the crash of worlds!

He is the CORNER-STONE, which unites, beautifies, and strengthens the whole building of divine mercy.

He is the TEMPLE, where God . . .
meets with us,
accepts us, and
imparts His blessing to us.

He is the ALTAR, which sanctifies both the gift and the giver.

He is the VINE, which communicates life, nourishment, and fruitfulness to all its branches.

He is the ROSE of SHARON and the LILY of the VALLEY — fragrant, lovely, attractive, perfuming, and unequaled in beauty and grace!

He is the BRAZEN SERPENT, which heals easily, instantly, and perfectly — all who look to Him by faith.

He is the FORERUNNER, who is gone before His flock . . .
removing the obstacles,
marking out the road, and
ready to receive them as they finish their course.

He is the FRIEND . . .
who loves at all times,
whose mind never changes,
whose love never cools, and
who never neglects a friend in distress.

He is the greatest, best, and most glorious GIFT of GOD — including, securing, and conferring every good thing upon those who sincerely receive Him.

He is the KINSMAN . . .
who redeems the forfeited inheritance,
who ransoms all His poor relatives from slavery,
and whose name is held in renown.

He is the LAMB of GOD, who took up, expiated, and forever put away — the sins of all who trust in His blood.

He is the MESSENGER of the COVENANT, who . . .
brings good news from God,
carries all our requests to God, and
ever stands as a Mediator between us and God.

He is the PEARL of GREAT PRICE, or the priceless pearl, which . . .
all who sincerely seek, find,
all who find, may claim, and
all who possess, are enriched forever!

He is the PHYSICIAN, who . . .
heals all disorders,
restores every patient to perfect health,
and bestows medicine and care, gratis.

He is the RANSOM, which . . .
procured our release,
ensures our liberty, and
preserves us from going down into the pit!

He is the RIGHTEOUSNESS, which . . .
justifies us from all charges,
entitles us to eternal life, and
enables us to lift up our heads with boldness in God's presence.

He is the TRUTH, which . . .
enlightens the mind,
purifies the heart, and
regulates the life.

He is the FIRE, which . . .
purges our dross,
brightens our graces, and
cleanses our consciences from works which deserve death.

He is the SHEPHERD, who . . .
knows every sheep,
watches over the whole flock, and
never loses a lamb, by disease, accident, or beast of prey.

He is the BISHOP, who . . .
dwells among His people,
consults their welfare, and
imparts His benediction freely.

He is the CAPTAIN of SALVATION, who . . .
collects His soldiers,
disciplines His troops, and
leads them forth to certain victory over sin, the world, and the devil.

He is the LADDER, by which we . . .
rise from this earth,
lose sight of carnal things, and
ascend to the presence of God!

He is the SURETY . . .
who engaged for us in the everlasting covenant,
who is held responsible for our salvation,
who has pledged to set us before His father's throne forever.

He is the WALL of FIRE, which surrounds, enlightens and infallibly protects — all His redeemed people!

He is the chief among ten thousand, and the ALTOGETHER LOVELY ONE!

Precious Lord Jesus, allow me . . .
to know You more fully,
to trust You more heartily,
to serve You more diligently,
to enjoy You more frequently,
to imitate You more closely,
to exalt You more highly, and
to show forth Your salvation from day to day!

Your love — is my Heaven,
Your presence — is my delight, and
Your service — is the joy of my heart!

Let me daily . . .
walk with You,
work for You,
and bring glory to You!

Oh, send Your Spirit to my poor heart . . .
to exalt You,
to honor You,
to endear You to my soul!

Use me to bring . . .
lost sinners to Your cross,
believers to Your throne of grace,
backsliders to the path of obedience.

Be my . . .
strength in life,
solace in death, and
eternal portion beyond the grave!

 

The Complaint!

"I am cast down!"

And why are you cast down?

"My heart is burdened with a sense of my short-comings!
Every duty I perform is so imperfect.
Every purpose I form is so soon frustrated.
Every hope of seeing better days is so soon beclouded.
My heart is so fearfully depraved.
My life is so unlike the life of Jesus.
My temper is so unholy.
My prayers are so brief and heartless.
My praises are so feeble and fitful.
I do so little good.
I live to so little purpose.
My evidences are so dim.
My prospects are so overcast.
I am harassed sometimes with the fear of death.
I cannot realize the glories of Heaven.
I am dissatisfied with the world — and yet glued to it!
I hate sin — and yet fall into it!
I am a riddle, a mystery, a mass of inconsistency!

Is it, then, any wonder that I am cast down?"

No, if you look at yourself, and pore over the things you have named — then it is no wonder that you are cast down! They are enough to cast anyone down! But if you carry them to the throne of grace, if you there confess them before God, if you look to Jesus to save you from them — then, in spite of them — you will not long be cast down.

I know it is difficult to do this. There is a natural proneness to pore over such things. One feels at times a secret liking to indulge in gloomy thoughts.

But we must look away from self — for if we do not, we shall become anxious, doubting and gloomy! We must run the race, not looking at our imperfections, short-comings, and failures — but looking unto Jesus. He knows what we are. He knew what we would be — before He called us by His grace; yes, before He shed His blood for us!
He loved us, as sinners.
He died for us, as sinners.
He called us, as sinners.
He saves us, as sinners. He will have all the glory of saving us, and He will get great glory by doing so, because we are such great sinners; and do not, cannot, do anything to repay Him for His wondrous love. Salvation is by free grace — from first to last! Believe this, and it will raise up your drooping mind!

The life-boat of free grace has put you on board the vessel of salvation, and that will convey you safely to the port of glory! Do not look at your spiritual destitution, or feebleness, or incapacity, or imperfections — but trust in your Pilot, rely on your Captain, and expect His mercy and merit to land you safe in Heaven at last!

As imperfect you now are, and as imperfect you will be — your dying prayer will still be, "God be merciful unto me — a sinner!"

Hope in God!
His mercy is great unto the Heavens,
His grace is as free as the air,
His love is as changeless as His nature,
His promise is as immutable as His love.

Hope in God, for you shall yet praise Him. He will save you for His own sake, and present you before assembled worlds as a monument of His mercy, and a trophy of His grace!

 

God's Special Treasure!

"For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure!" Deuteronomy 7:6

By nature all people are alike. Descended from one parent, partaking of one and the same nature, and involved in the same guilt and condemnation: "there is no difference — for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Nature in Abraham was no better than in Pharaoh; nor were the Israelites to be preferred to the Egyptians. But when man has no right — God sees fit to exercise grace. And for the glory of his great name, to manifest his divine nature, and to accomplish his deep and holy purposes — he did put a difference between Israel and the Egyptians. Hence Moses told them, "The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure!" Deuteronomy 7:6.

Therefore the people were to dwell alone, and not to be reckoned among the nations. But Israel after the flesh is but a type of the true or spiritual Israel; the people whom God has chosen in his Son, to enjoy salvation, and partake of everlasting glory. The words are, if possible, more applicable to them — than to those of whom they were originally spoken!

Observe, the design. God intended them to be his own, particularly — a special people unto himself. As he said by the prophet, "This people have I formed for myself, they shall snow forth my praise." He highly prizes them. Yes, it is impossible to say how highly he prizes them. Those are wondrous words, "For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his own special treasure."

Did the shepherd prize his flock? God calls his people, "his flock, his beautiful flock."

Does the miser prize his wealth? God says of his people, "You shall be a special treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine."

Does the prince prize his jewels? God says of his people, "They shall be mine, in that day when I make up my jewels!"

Does the bridegroom prize his beloved and dearly purchased bride? It is written, "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you!"

Does the reigning monarch prize his crown? God has said, "You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."

What wondrous love, such expressions as these represent! How precious must the Lord's people be to him! Truly they are his special treasure!

God CHOSE them to be special unto himself. He chose out from among others. He chose in preference to others. He chose them to bring them near to himself, that they may know him! And by the most wondrous ways — he brings them to the knowledge of himself, as he is revealed in Jesus.

He chose them, that they might need him; and so need him as not to be able to do without him. Therefore they are brought to feel their need of his grace, wisdom, strength, and presence. Nor can they be supplied from any other source, or be happy — but only as they realize his presence and his love. This shows that he chose them that they might enjoy his presence, and be forever with him. His tabernacle was pitched in the midst of the typical people, and the symbol of his presence was always with him. His spiritual presence is ever with his spiritual people — and he will soon collect them all into his glorious presence — and have them near to himself forever!

He chose them out from others on purpose that they may be a special people unto himself — and in so doing, he acted FREELY. It was not on account of anything he saw in them, or on account of anything he expected from them; but in the exercise of his most free and holy sovereignty — he chose them to participate in the glory of his Son.

In choosing them, he acted also DELIBERATELY. It was no hasty choice. His thoughts had been eternally filled with them. His heart had been eternally set upon them. Therefore he chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world; before his works of old.

In choosing them he acted WISELY — as he really desired to have them. For each one of them is ready to confess that if God had not chosen them, they would never have chosen him! The nature regulates the choice; and as our nature is carnal and impure — we would never have chosen God, who is spiritual and holy.

His choice was just an early expression of His LOVE. The love that chose them — would do anything for them, and give anything to them! Therefore God spared not His own Son — but delivered Him up for them all; and in so doing gave them the assurance that also He will freely give them all things in Christ.

O the wonders couched in electing love!

This act of choosing such creatures as we are to be a special people unto himself — displays such grace, such condescension, such infinite wisdom and love! It seems to say, "The Lord has need of you." And, indeed, if he is to display all the glorious perfections of his nature, if he is to communicate of his infinite fullness to creatures, if he is to appear as God, in the most wondrous and astonishing manner — he does need us!

As the mother needs the child to empty the full breast;
as the Father needs the Son to share and enjoy his possessions with him;
as the bridegroom needs the bride to satisfy the deep love that is hid in his heart towards her;
so God, our covenant God, may be said to need us.

God's election says, "The Lord loves you!" Loves us! Yes, and with a love that is eternal, immutable, sovereign, infinite, and free! All the love of God is lavished upon us as His special people in Christ. Oh, those wondrous words of Jesus, "You have loved them — AS You have loved Me!"

Beloved, if God has chosen us to be a special people unto himself — then let it be the ruling object of our lives, to be specially for God! And as God desires to have us near to himself — let it be a daily effort to get near, and keep near to him.

 

Redeeming Love!

"He gave Himself for us — that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works." Titus 2:14

The first and second advent of Christ are frequently presented to our notice together in the New Testament. The former sometimes introduces the latter, and sometimes the reverse. In writing to Titus, the apostle's mind was wafted away by the inspiring Spirit, to the second coming of the Lord, and he speaks of it as the "blessed hope" of the church of God, for which believers were looking and longing. Then he brings forth the end and design of the first advent, and says, "Who gave Himself for us — that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works."
 

The Glorious FACT. "HE gave Himself!" Yes, Jesus gave Himself for us. Note the contrast between the Giver — and those for whom He gave Himself.

The Giver is He who was the only begotten Son of God, the author of creation, the sustainer of the universe, the brightness of divine glory, the source and end of all things! He who was proclaimed by the prophet as "the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the prince of peace." He who is declared by the apostle to be "God over all — blessed for evermore!" He who is "God manifest in the flesh."

"He gave Himself for US." For us — who at the best are mere creatures, between whom and our Creator there can be no comparison. But it was not for us as mere creatures — but for us as base, vile, insignificant, and totally depraved creatures! We had debased ourselves, even unto Hell. Worse, our nature could not be, for "the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked!"

The most exalted, glorious, and holy being in the universe — gave Himself for the most vile, polluted, and degraded of His creatures! O how astonishing!

But He volunteered on our behalf, without any solicitation, offering to become . . .
our Substitute and fulfill the law in our stead;
our Sacrifice, and make a full atonement for our sins; and
our Ransomer, paying the satisfactory price for our redemption.

He engaged to bear the desert of all our sins in His own body — to suffer all that the inflexible justice of God could inflict on our Surety — and so put away our sins forever, by the sacrifice of Himself. He gave . . .
His person — for our persons;
His blood — as our ransom price;
and His life — for our lives.

He gave His entire self, doing and suffering all that was necessary to secure our release from sin's curse, and our everlasting salvation. O amazing grace of a gracious Savior!
 

The OBJECT in View. He gave Himself that He might justly redeem, ransom, or deliver us — from the guilt, power, and penal consequences of sin. He gave Himself to expiate the guilt, to destroy the power, and secure us against the eternal desert of our transgressions. He gave Himself to purify unto Himself, by fully expiating their sins, a peculiar people:
a people purchased — to be peculiarly His own;
a people sanctified, separated from all others — to be set apart for Himself;
a people to be His own subjects — as the King of Zion;
a people to be His own soldiers — as the Captain of our salvation;
a people to be His own servants — as the Lord of the house;
a people to be His own children — as the everlasting Father!

He redeemed us from all who claimed us, and from every claim that could be made upon us — in order that we might be honorably, exclusively, and eternally "His own". His own, in the highest, fullest, and most glorious sense.

His own peculiar people, "zealous for good works." That being influenced by His love, affected by His example, enabled by His Spirit, and guided by His word — they may answer the gracious design of God, zealously performing "good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them." Thus,
grace is gloriously displayed,
man's salvation is secured, and
God's glory by the good works of His people, is rendered certain!

"He gave Himself!" The love of Jesus is unparalleled. Out of pure love to us who had no love to Him, nor ever would have had — but for His first loving us! He gave, not only His time, His labor, His wealth — but Himself! He gave His entire person as the God-man, the incarnate Jehovah!

"He gave Himself!" This was more than as if He had given a thousand worlds — for these He could create with a word!

"He gave Himself," and not merely to live for us, or labor for us — but even to die for us!

"He gave Himself," and not even to die some easy and honorable death — but the most painful, shameful death, that man ever invented, or creature ever suffered!

O wondrous love!

O Jesus, never, never was there love like yours!

Note, the special object that Jesus had in view. "That He might redeem us" — by a price, which no one but Himself could pay — that He might . . .

satisfy all the demands of law and justice,

acquire a peculiar right to us, and so honorably . . .
deliver us from every foe,
rescue us from all that is degrading,
and exalt us to the highest honor.

Jesus would have us to be peculiarly His own, "His own peculiar people," which indicates peculiar love, and displays peculiar grace.

Observe, the parties redeemed: Those who were the vilest of His creatures — but who being claimed for Him, by His Holy Spirit — became a peculiar people, zealously endeavoring to do just what pleases Him, and all that pleases Him.

They are brought to have a peculiar knowledge of Him — which leads them to be peculiarly zealous in endeavoring to please Him.

See, the claim He has to, and upon His people. A more just claim to them — He could not have, seeing He has given His life, His all — to possess them! A greater claim He could not have upon them, seeing He has redeemed them from death, ransomed them from Hell, and purchased them in order to make them holy, honorable, and happy forever.

Notice then, what He expects from them. He expects zealous obedience. He expects . . .
that His word be studied,
that His will be consulted, and
that His honor be sought in all they think, speak, or do.

He expects that they will abstain from all sin. Sin brought them into danger. Sin rendered it necessary that He should suffer, bleed, and die for them. Sin grieves His love, wounds His heart, and dishonors His name; therefore He requires them to avoid sin, abstain from sin, and hate sin!

Reader, what do you think of Jesus?

How do you feel toward Him?

What do you think of His love, His wondrous love?

What effect has it upon you?

What are your views of sin — all sin?

How do you feel toward sin?

What think you of good works?

Are you zealously endeavoring to perform them?
 

And WHY, dear Savior — tell me why,
You thus would suffer, bleed and die?
What mighty motive could you move,
The motive's plain — 'twas all for love!

For love of whom? Of sinners base;
A hardened herd, a rebel race!
That mocked and trampled on your blood,
And trifled with the wounds of God!

They nailed Him to the accursed tree;
They did my brethren — and so did we!
The soldier pierced His side 'tis true;
But we have pierced Him through and through!

 

Almost Gone!

"But as for me — my feet were almost gone! My steps had well near slipped!" Psalm 73:2

Asaph appears, in his own mind, to have been going over the history of the Lord's people in general, and of some of them in particular; tracing out the Lord's dealings with them, and marking his peculiar interventions for them. Full of this subject, he commences his Psalm rather abruptly, exclaiming, "Truly God is good to Israel — even to such as are pure of heart." Good, incomparably good, had He been to Israel literally, and to all the pure, or true hearted, among them. But His goodness shines even brighter still, in His dealings with His spiritual Israel. How good, how infinitely good . . .
to choose them to eternal life in His beloved Son,
to predestine them to the adoption of children,
to redeem them from death by His precious blood,
to preserve them in the days of their unregeneracy,
to quicken and call them by His Holy Spirit,
to speak to them in His Word,
and to work for them by His providence.

Yes, God has been good, and is good to Israel; even to such as have had their hearts cleansed from guilt — by the blood of Jesus, and from filth — by His Spirit and Word. Being pure-hearted, the hands are washed in innocence, pure paths are chosen, pure companions are selected, and pure conversation is enjoyed.

Asaph's attention had also been directed to himself, and while he marked their course, he compared it with his own, and as he reviewed his narrow escapes, and sinful propensities, he exclaimed, "But as for me — my feet were almost gone! My steps had well near slipped!"
 

He had been in GREAT DANGER. Judging by the eye, misled him. He saw the wicked — healthy, wealthy, and prosperous; while some of the Lord's people — were sick, poor, and in adversity. Envy arose in his heart, and began powerfully to work. He began to think that it was folly to obey God, and observe His precepts. A spirit of complaining was produced, and he reflected upon the conduct of his God. At length he went to the Sanctuary — there his mistakes were corrected, his mind was enlightened, and his actual fall prevented. He was almost gone! His steps had nearly slipped! He had only narrowly escaped!

In looking back, how often has this been the case with us. But there are special periods, and some particular spots, which remind us, how near we were to a shameful fall. O this, ALMOST! This, well near! How vividly they bring before us past scenes, and past seasons.

We can remember what danger we were in, from peculiar temptations. Satan studied our constitution, and prepared his temptation accordingly. It perfectly matched the lusts of our flesh, and natural bent of our sinful desires. It so exactly suited, was so calculated to make us fall — that we were almost gone.

Then, it was so adapted to our circumstances. Satan always observes the circumstances of the Lord's people, when he prepares his traps for them. He has temptations for sickness — and health, for poverty — and wealth, for cheerfulness — and gloom. As every constitution has its suitable temptation — just so has every circumstance in the believers life. Besides which, Satan plies his temptations with such power and perseverance. How he does this — we cannot understand; but that he does so — we cannot doubt. An infernal spirit often acts upon the human spirit. It suggests, it excites, it tempts, and, alas! how often it prevails!

When the temptation to sin, and the opportunity to commit the sin meet — the conflict is fearful, and the result sometimes shameful!

When the wine sparkled before the eye of Noah — he was tempted and fell.

When Bathsheba's beauty met the eye of David — he was tempted and fell.

When the damsel charged Peter — he was tempted and fell.

And there have been times in our history when solicitation to sin, an inclination for sin, and the opportunity to commit sin — have met together — and we were almost gone! If special grace had not been given to us — we would have surely fallen.

We can remember too our danger when our corruptions have been powerfully stirred up. Satan is allowed to do this sometimes — and then every evil that lies hidden in the heart begins to show itself! Corruptions we would be ashamed to mention, and afraid to name — are found working furiously within us! O what awful thoughts of God then! O what fearful cogitations then! Flood seems to follow flood, billow follows billow; until it is almost impossible to believe that there can be any true grace in our hearts!

The cable strains, the anchor drags, the masts crack, and the sails flap fearfully — we are tossed with tempests and not comforted. We seem just ready to make shipwreck of faith, and of a good conscience. Our feet are almost gone! Our steps are well near slipped! Our resistance is nearly overcome. Like one walking on ice — every moment we expect to fall prostrate. Like one going down a steep plane, it appears almost impossible to stop. At times, all seems to be over, and disgrace now, with destruction by-and-bye, seem certain.

O the scenes of danger we have passed through! O the hair-breadth escapes we have had! There seemed to be but a step, and scarcely that, between us and the awful precipice, the shameful fall! Many, many times, we have been almost gone — and yet have never fallen yet. What mercy, what rich, free, and undeserved mercy this! But Asaph had not only been in great danger, he had also experienced,
 

A Merciful Deliverance. A father's eye was over him! The Lord was observing him. Just so with us. Our God has ever had His eye on us — and His arm around us! "The eyes of the Lord, run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on the behalf of all those whose hearts are perfect towards Him." O the mercy, to have God's eye watching us; and His ear open to listen to us! With David, we can say, "When I cried: 'My foot slips!' Your mercy, O God, held me up."

The Lord bounds the temptations of His people. So far — but no farther, may Satan go. He may tempt us — but he shall not triumph over us; or if he does for a time, the triumphing of this wicked one shall be short.

Our heavenly Father bounds the time, the force, and the number of our temptations. We may think them peculiarly strong, and seem to be encircled by them, and conclude that they must crush us. But no, thus says the Word, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it!"

This has hitherto been the case with us, we were almost gone — but not quite. Our steps had well near slipped — but we were preserved from falling. Every saint is in God's own keeping. "I will keep it night and day." These are the Lord's own words, and they are true and faithful. "I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep. The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side. The sun will not strike you by day or the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life. The Lord will protect your coming and going both now and forever!" Psalms 121

The Lord our God will continue to work for us — as He has in the past. He works IN us — by His Holy Spirit; and He works FOR us — by His special providence. And the inward work of the Spirit, and the outward work of divine providence — conspire to preserve us from falling. Blessed be God, He watches over us, bounds our temptations, keeps us as the apple of the eye, and works for us. Here is our safety. This is the reason, that though our feet were almost gone, and our steps had well near slipped — we can say of our enemies, "They are cast down and fallen — but we are risen and stand upright."

Brethren, thus so dangerously circumstanced — we had need to take heed; with such corruptions within us, such an enemy without us, and such a slippery path beneath us — great caution is necessary. Therefore the Apostle exhorts, "Let him that thinks he stands take heed — lest he fall." "Watch and pray — lest you enter into temptation," is the caution of our Divine Master also.

We should also feel our dependence. We need a wiser head, and a stronger arm than our own — to keep us! If the Lord had not been on our side — long before now, Satan would have surely prevailed against us. The ivy does not more need the oak, the vine does not more need the wall, the infant does not more need the parent's arm — than we need the powerful support of our gracious God. Our daily prayer should be "Hold me up — and I shall be safe!"

We should be found in the posture of the spouse, of whom it was inquired, "Who is this, that comes up out of the wilderness, leaning on her beloved." We should walk humbly. Leaning on another's arm, guided by another's eye, and kept by another's power — surely humility befits us. The humbler — the safer. The humble cleave to Jesus, and fear to leave His side.

Leave Him, and like Dinah — you will find some Shechem too strong for you, and will have to return to your home dishonored and disgraced!

We should give God the glory of our preservation. Our feet were almost gone, and but for His timely intervention — they would have been quite gone! Where, O where might we have been this day — but for the Lord's faithful care? He was mindful of us, and He will bless us. We have been kept, we are preserved — but "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name goes all the glory for Your unfailing love and faithfulness!"

 

The Proper Aim of a Christian's Life

"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

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do — do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31

"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God." Colossians 1:10

Every servant should habitually aim to please his master.

Every wife should habitually aim to please her husband.

Every child should habitually aim to please his father.

But every Christian is the Lord's servant, the Lamb's bride, the child of God; therefore his daily, hourly aim, should be to please God. He should never lose sight of this for one hour — but in every place, in every circumstance, in every undertaking, ask, "Will this be pleasing to God?"

God is pleased or displeased . . .
with every thought we think,
with every word we speak,
with every action we perform,
with every emotion we feel.

Perhaps we do not sufficiently realize this. We think, speak, feel, and act — without ever considering whether we are pleasing God, or not. But this ought not to be, for He . . .
gave us our being,
redeemed us from sin and damnation,
called us by His grace, and
has blessed us with innumerable and interminable blessings
 — and all that we may glorify Him! And how can we glorify Him but by habitually aiming to please Him? If I forget or lose sight of this, I forget and lose sight of the principal end of my being, and well-being.

What makes Heaven so happy? Just this — all there keep the eye and heart intently fixed upon this one thing — pleasing God. What would make us permanently and solidly happy on earth? Only this — to aim always and in everything to please God. Ah! if we did this, we would have . . .
few cares,
few fears,
and no falls!

The bosom would be a stranger to anxiety, and the heart to foreboding. The Savior's prayer which He taught his disciples would be in a great measure answered, "Your will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven."

Well, shall we go on as we have done — or shall we seek a change? We have not, perhaps, in everything, and at all times, sought principally to please God. But Paul says, "You ought to please God!"

Both reason and revelation unite in saying that we, as believers in Jesus, as partakers of the grace of God, as those who are absolutely dependent on God, who are so richly supplied by God, who are so infinitely indebted to God, and who are expecting to receive a crown and kingdom from God — ought in everything to endeavor to please God!

The precepts of His word direct us how we may do this, and the Holy Spirit is ready to help our infirmities — if we heartily desire and fervently ask Him.

Let each of us, then, in future, propose that the end of my life, is to please God. And let us often, very often, ask in reference to particular points, "Is this pleasing to God?" For instance, the manner in which I employ my spare time — the amount of time I give to sleep, to recreation, to entertainment. Many Christians seem never to think whether the way in which they spend their time is pleasing to God or not. If they did, would they ever go to some entertainments, or indulge in certain pleasures? Would the world have so much of their time, and the prayer-closet so little? How much time is wasted in frivolous ways, which are neither conducive to the health of the body, nor calculated to promote the spirituality of the mind.

How many squander their money on dress, ornaments, or delicacies for the body — who never relieve the poor, or supply the needs of the sick, or contribute to establish God's cause in the world; or if they do so at all, it is not in due proportion to their means. The pence are given to the Lord — the pounds are spent in the gratification of SELF!

If, when I am going to lay out money in ornaments or dress, or indulgences for the table, I was to ask, "Is this pleasing to God?"  — would it not check my lavish expenditure? Would it not often change the course in which my money flows?

Just so with those who hoard up much, adding house to house, field to field, pound to pound — while the needs of the widow and the fatherless, and the funds of God's church are not supplied by them, if they were to ask, when making their purchases, or paying their money into the bank, "Is this pleasing to God"? — would they not often give more — and hoard less? We think so. And would not the reflection be more pleasing on a sick-bed or dying pillow? We think it would.

We all have influence, and in the case of a contested election, or in order to carry some party question — we prove that we have. We can influence some, it may be many. We can influence them for good or for evil.

Now, in making use of our influence for worldly objects, and in withholding it from spiritual objects — do we not sin? Are we not displeasing God? Ought we not to ascertain what influence we have, and how we may best exert it, so as to please God? Are we not accountable for the use or abuse of our influence? Is it not a talent, an important talent? Was it not given us to employ for God and the good of our fellow-men? Is it not important, then, in reference to using our influence, to ask, "Is this pleasing to God?"

So also as to the connections I form, and the relationships into which I enter, the first question should be, "Will this please God?" A Christian is about to enter into partnership, to commence or carry on a business — -what should be his first object? Assuredly to please God, for if he loses sight of God's glory, and seeks only his own worldly advantage — God may blow upon it, and if it does not end in ruin, it may introduce him to trouble, care, anxiety, and perplexity, which will spoil his peace, rob him of his spiritual enjoyments, and make his life anything but desirable! Men of business should often ask in reference to their transactions, "Is this pleasing to God?"

A godly man is about to choose a wife, or a godly woman has an offer of marriage — what should they do? What should be the principal aim? What should decide the point? Just an answer to this question, "Will it please God?" If they can, after much thought, prayer, regard to God's Word, and close examination, conclude, "Yes, it will please God" — then they have reason to expect the smile of Heaven upon their union, the blessing of God upon their household, and real happiness in their connection with each other — but not else.

Do not forget that you ought not only to please yourselves — but to please God! And not only so — but you should aim to please God first and principally — before you please yourselves.

For example, say that I am a laborer, and am about to engage in an employment — "pleasing God" should be my guide. The place may be respectable, the employment may be easy, the remuneration may be good; but can I have time for closet prayer? Can I have liberty to attend the means of grace? Can I adorn the doctrine of God my Savior here? Or, looking at the subject on all sides, and comparing it with other situations that may offer, I should ask, "Will it glorify God for me to enter into this employment?" Or, "Is it pleasing to God that I should enter into such an engagement, or undertake such a service?" This is the point, and we should stick to it. This is the rule, and we should walk by it.

Again, as to the way in which I perform duty. Many things are done — which are not well done. The way of doing them does not reflect honor on God, or do credit to ourselves. If I do anything out of fear, slavish fear — it is wrong. If I do anything merely to silence conscience — it is wrong. If I do anything merely to please men, or to raise myself in their estimation — it is wrong.

My object in everything I do — should be to please God. The one grand end of my life, the grand thing I am to aim at — is to please my Heavenly Father. I have . . .
nothing to dread but His frown,
nothing to fear but His displeasure,
nothing to seek but His approbation.

If my Heavenly Father is pleased with me — it is enough.

In prayer, in praise, in exercising benevolence, in every public duty, in every arduous enterprise, in every self-denying undertaking — I should just ask, "Is this pleasing to God?" If so, all is well. But His word must decide the question — and will always do so. In general,
if we do all to the glory of God,
if we do all lovingly or in a spirit of love,
if we do all to edify believers, and to win lost sinners —
then it is no question that God is pleased with us.

In a word, in reference to . . .
the spirit we manifest,
the temper we indulge,
the object we aim at,
the design we have in view, and
the motive that influences us in every enterprise —
we should seriously ask, "Is this pleasing to God?"

Beloved, if we do not please God — then it matters little whom we please! And if we do please God — then it is of small importance whom we displease. What a comfort it is when . . .
the world frowns on us,
Christians misunderstand us, and
professors misrepresent our conduct
 — to have the inward conviction, "my aim was to please God!" — and to go to the throne of grace to render an account, and feel the light of our Father's countenance lifted up upon us, assuring us that he is pleased with us.

On the other hand, suppose that . . .
the world smiles on us,
Christians think well of us,
and professors applaud us
 — but we have an inward conviction that in what we have done — we have sought ourselves before Jesus, and have been influenced by some carnal motive, instead of a simple desire to please God — and we go to the throne of grace to lay our work at our Father's feet — and He refuses to acknowledge it — there is no sweet smile, no access to His loving heart, no light from his countenance beaming upon us! What is the world's smile, what the opinion of our fellow-Christians, what the plaudits of professors — without the approbation of God? Ah, what?

My brother, my sister — our Heavenly Father is pleased with our poorest performances, with our most imperfect services, with only a cup of cold water given to one of His children — if our object is to please Him! In all that we do — He looks into our hearts, to see what we are aiming at. He is displeased or pleased — with all we do. It is one thing for Him to accept our persons in Jesus, to pardon our sins for the sake of Jesus, and another thing to be pleased with our works, as the works of His beloved child. Of the former we should be assured, and the latter we should constantly aim at.

O what a mercy to be permitted to do anything for God, to visit His sick, to relieve His poor, to circulate His truth, and to speak well of His name! And what a comfort it is to know that our God is easily pleased — that it is not the amount of what we do — but the motive from which we do it, that He looks at! "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man has, and not according to that a man has not."

Whatever we do, let us "do it heartily, as to the Lord — and not to man." Whatever we do, let us "do all in the name of the Jesus Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father, by Him." Whatever we do, "whether we eat or drink — let us do all to the glory of God." Whatever we do — let it be our object, aim, and end — "to please God."

And — in the future, when any work presents itself, when any untrodden path opens before us, and any influence urges us forward, or any object attracts us onward — let us ask, "Is this pleasing to God?" And before we proceed, let the question be decided; nor let us dare engage in any enterprise, enter into any relationship, or undertake any work — but from the conviction, "This will please God!"


 

The One Mediator!

"There is one Mediator between God and men — the man Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 2:5

The mediation of Christ is the glory of the gospel! No one has seen the glory of the method of grace — who has not distinctly, clearly, and spiritually seen the nature of the mediation of Jesus. God and man are by nature separated; nor can they be reconciled or united — but by a Mediator. The cause of this separation is sin.

The sin of man is rebellion against the just authority of God.

The sin of man is deep-rooted, cruel, and wicked enmity against God.

The sin of man is moral filth, in consequence of which he cannot be admitted into the presence of God.

Sinful man aims at nothing less than the destruction of the very being of the absolutely holy God; for if the sinner had the power — he would chase God Almighty out of all the worlds He has created, and deprive Him of His existence and very being! The character of man, is that of the enemy of God — he is the avowed, determined, and implacable enemy of God! And his enmity is so deep and dreadful — that nothing short of the divine power and influence of the Holy Spirit can subdue it, nothing but a new creation can change his character!

How then can such a vile being, in such a dreadful state — be admitted into the presence of the thrice holy God? Into the presence of that God:

1. Whose justice demands that the rights of the divine nature be maintained, and the sins of the sinner be punished!

2. Whose holiness is like a burning, glowing fire, and will not, cannot — allow anything impure to approach Him!

3. Whose truth is as immutable as His throne, and will not rescind or falsify His threatenings!

4. Whose power makes earth to tremble, and the perpetual mountains to bow!

How can such a holy God, and such vile creatures — meet and embrace, and love each other?

Only through a Mediator, one who can lay his hand upon both!

The Mediator required must be one who can approach to and deal with God for man; whose dignity, glory, and majesty, are such, that it shall be no dishonor to Jehovah to admit Him to His council, and enter into terms with Him for man's redemption.

The Mediator must be one who has ability to prevail with and reconcile men. He must have power . . .
to subdue the stubborn will,
to cleanse the filthy nature, and
to bring the rebel at a humble suppliant to the divine throne!

He must be willing to undertake this great and arduous work, and to go through with it, let it cost what it may of toil, suffering, and power.

He must also be acceptable to both parties: God must approve of Him and be satisfied with Him; and man must acquiesce in his appointment, office, and work.

He must be able to meet and fulfill all the conditions of the covenant . . .
obeying the precepts of the law,
suffering its dreadful penalty,
and new-creating the rebel man.

He must therefore be GOD — or how could He . . .
deal with God,
undertake for millions of sinners, and
deliberately engage in such an dreadful work?

If He is not God — then He is infinitely beneath God; for there is an infinite distance between God and the most exalted creature.

He must also be man, and PERFECT MAN, without spot, or stain of sin — or how could He obey the law in His life, and suffer its penalty in His death?

Jesus is BOTH God and man. God by nature, and man by choice — the God-man, therefore the Mediator.

His WORK was first to lay a foundation for bringing God and man together upon just and honorable principles — this He did by His obedience and death. Then He must actually bring the parties together into friendship and agreement — this He does by His gospel and Holy Spirit. Then He must keep the parties together, in peace and love — and this He does bf his intercession, constantly pleading His blood for sinners in the holiest, and sending down the Holy Spirit to sanctify, teach and guide them!

As Mediator, He made peace. He proclaims peace, He imparts peace. He maintains peace. He will introduce His people into perfect and eternal peace! He stands between God and man as Intercessor with God — and as Advocate for them! He is the only medium of access to God; no sinner can approach God with acceptance — but through Him!

As the medium of communion with God — God can not have fellowship with us — but through Him.

As the medium of sympathy, He unites God and man so closely, so tenderly — that every groan touches Him, every sigh touches Him, every pain touches Him! And in all our afflictions — He is afflicted!

Wonderful union of God and man! Amazing mystery! That God and man should become one, through Jesus. The rebel and the Sovereign — one! The vile sinner and the Holiest — one! But so it is, and Jesus will be our one Mediator to us in ultimate glory forever. There is one Mediator, and but ONE! We need no more!


 

Israel's Need — and God's Mercy

Life is but a journey — a journey from the present fleeting world, to the eternal world.

"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." Exodus 13:21-22

If the books of Moses were now for the first time put into our hands, with what deep interest would we read them, and what a powerful impression would their contents make upon our minds. To sit down and read, how God fitted up the world for our reception, how he created our first parents, how they fell by sin, and how graciously God opened a door of hope before them. To go through the history of the long-lived ante-diluvians, the history of the patriarchs, and, above all, God's wonderful dealings with his people. Surely we would be absorbed in the subject, and filled with admiration at the book.

But we have been familiar with these things from our childhood, and therefore they have lost the charm of novelty. Still we cannot read these books carefully and with prayer, especially when we bear in mind that the past was typical of the present — without interest, instruction, and profit.

Israel had been brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand; they were about to cross the sea, enter the wilderness, and travel to the promised land. Moses was their leader — but they needed one wiser, more patient, and more powerful than Moses.

Just so with ourselves; the Lord has brought us out of the Egypt of our natural state; we have crossed the sea, which forever forbids our return to it; we are strangers and pilgrims on earth; and are traveling to a country which the Lord has promised to give us for an inheritance. There is, therefore, a similarity between Israel's circumstances — and our own; and we will keep this in view while we meditate on this portion of the Lord's Word. Here we see —  

First — Israel's Need. They needed a GUIDE.

They had a long journey before them, which would take them forty years.

They had to travel by a strange path, on which they had never trodden before.

Numerous foes would endeavor to obstruct their progress.

Many dangers lined the way. And they had mistrustful and deceiving hearts.

Fellow-Christians — is it not even so with us? We are going on a journey to a country of which the Lord our God has told us.

The journey is long and trying. It takes some twenty, some forty, and some sixty years to travel from earth to Heaven.

It is a strange path. A path which no one knows — a path we have never trodden before. A path which by nature we could never find, and from which we are prone to turn aside.

We are surrounded by numerous foes, visible and invisible:

The WORLD frowning as a determined persecutor, or fawning as a base deceiver — is our foe. Now by its sneers, sarcasms, or sword; and then by its gilded vanities, flesh-pleasing baits, and blandishments — it endeavors to turn us aside from the right ways of the Lord.

SATAN and his hosts — crafty, cunning, cruel, united, persevering and determined — set themselves to terrify and drive us back, or to allure us from the way.

And worst of all, in our own natures, we have a determined foe who is . . .
ever present,
ever vigilant,
ever powerful.

Yes, the FLESH lusts against the Spirit. We find a law in our members warring against the law of our minds.

The world, the flesh, and the devil all combine to . . .
oppose our progress,
hinder us in our march, and,
if possible, to destroy us in the wilderness!

Then there are so many dangers:
the towering rocks of presumption,
the quagmires of doubt and fear,
the pitfalls of error,
the ravines of willful sin,
the fiery-flying serpent of temptation,
the scorpion of indulged lust,
the sunshine — and the shade;
the barren sands — and the verdant valleys;
the granite rocks — and the flowing streams

 —  all of them have dangers concealed in them! Nor can we be trusted alone for one moment — if we are to be safe. Worst of all, there are our distrustful and deceitful hearts!

Overcoming faith is impossible without the constant renewings of the Holy Spirit. We doubt the promise — and distrust the promiser. Sometimes we question whether we have ever left Egypt — and at other times we are ready to conclude, that for our sin, he has brought us out to slay us in the wilderness. This distrusting God is the sin that does so easily beset us.

With so long a journey, so strange a path, such numerous foes, so many dangers, and such unbelieving hearts — can we ever reach the promised land? Can we? Not if left to ourselves. Not if led only by Moses. Not if we have merely an angel for our guide. We must have a guide . . .
who well knows the road;
who can conquer our many foes;
who can lead us safely through all our dangers;
who can bear with our stubborn hearts and lives!

We need a guide . . .
whose wisdom is perfect,
whose power is almighty,
whose care is constant,
whose patience is immutable, and
whose mercy endures forever!

And we have such a guide, for the Most High God, who rules over the kingdoms of men has said to us, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go! I will guide you with My eye!" (Psalm 32:8) And so sweetly has he assured us of his love, won our confidence, and revealed his character and qualifications, that we have right heartily said, "You shall guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory!" Israel's God was Israel's guide; and this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death, through death, and beyond it. "By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night." This leads us to notice —  

Secondly — The Lord's Mercy. God provided just what the Israelites in needed in the wilderness — a guide to lead them by day and night. He went just before them: thus pointing out the road, clearing it of insurmountable difficulties, and conducting them in it.

This is just what our good and gracious God does for us! He is really present with us — though unseen by us. He is never far from any one of us. He marks out our road, He removes every real impediment out of our way, and conducts us step by step in the path to the promised land!

Naturally we do not know the path; and when we do, our nature always dislikes it. Left to ourselves, we would choose the short-cut, the smooth path, and well-frequented road. But He leads us in a zig-zag way, by a rough and uneven road — where there are but few fellow-travelers. His choice is best. The way He points out is the only right one. It is to humble us, and test us, and show what is in our hearts. It is that we may walk by faith — and not by sight. It is to teach us our need of Himself — and to lead us to cleave to Him.

He came behind them. When the Egyptians drew near, the pillar of fire moved, and fell down as a fiery partition, as an impassable barrier between the two companies.

The Lord went before them, and the God of Israel was their reward.

Just so, our wise and watchful guide becomes our SHIELD — he interposes between us and danger. Often, very often, would the Egyptians have come upon us from behind, and injured, if not destroyed us — but our God was there, he protected and preserved us. We shall never know until we get to glory — how often and in how many ways, the Lord has interposed for us and preserved us!

He adapted himself to all their circumstances.

By day, when the sun was pouring down its streams of glaring light and scorching heat — it was a cooling and refreshing cloud, spreading like a large umbrella over the entire company.

By night, when the cold dews were falling, and the chilling winds were blowing — it was a warming cheerful fire. It was shade or light; shadow or warmth — just as they needed. And, oh, beloved, how has our God adapted himself to all our circumstances these many years in the wilderness!

He has warmed us with his love — and cooled us with his mercy.

He has sheltered us with his broad hand — and cheered us with his loving Word.

In looking back, we can see that we have had the cloud by day — and the fire by night. He has fully provided for them that they might journey by day and night. If they had to strike their tents and pack up for a march at noon-day — the cloud shadowed them; and if they had to prepare for a removal at midnight — the fire gave them light to work by. If they traveled on scorching sands, and under a burning sky — they were sheltered; and if they journeyed under the gloom of midnight — they were illumined and cheered.

Blessed be God for the provision he has made for us, for we have found his grace sufficient for us, and his strength perfected in our weakness. Our shoes have been iron and brass; and as our day — so has our strength been. We have gone by day and night. Ah, some of us have traveled much by night! But we have ever found the truth of the testimony, "Unto the upright — there arises light in darkness."

He continued his kindness to them unto the end. "Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." The symbol of the divine presence continued with them until Moses died. When Joshua became leader, the ark opened the way through the Jordan, and conducted them into the promised land.

Just so, God's providence will care for us, comfort us, lead us, and supply us — until we come to the Jordan. And then Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, Jesus, the ark of the everlasting covenant — will lead us across the river, make the way plain and easy, and introduce us to the promised land.

He who began with us, will go on with us — nor will he leave us nor forsake us until he has done all that he has spoken to us of. Every jot and tittle of his Word must be fulfilled, for the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake; because it has pleased the Lord to make them his people. We are confident of this very thing — that he who has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ!

Beloved, are you traveling from Egypt to Canaan — from earth to Heaven? If so, you need a guide. No creature will be found sufficient. It must be the Lord himself.

He guides all his people by his providence, for his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in behalf of all those who hearts are perfect towards him.

He guides them by his grace. His Word is our directory — the map of our journey. On that he shines by his Holy Spirit, and in us he works by the same divine agent. He convinces, he inclines, he leads, he sustains, and at length introduces us to the eternal rest prepared for the people of God.

If God is your guide — he will adapt his manifestation to your circumstances. There will be no visible cloud or fire — but he will make your way plain before your face. He will not guide you as a horse or mule — with bit and bridle; but as a rational being — as a beloved child. He will take you by the hand, gradually and graciously clear your way, and comfort and encourage you as you go on.

Under his guidance you will make progress both by day and night.

In prosperity and adversity,
in joy and sorrow,
in light and darkness,
in summer and winter,
you will still make way to the promised land.

The true Christian can travel by day or night. He is not dependent on circumstances. He often rises beyond the region of second causes. He make progress — because the Lord is with him.

If God begins to lead you, he will go through the whole journey with you. He will not leave you in the middle. He will not forsake you toward the end.

Aged pilgrim, cheer up! The Lord who led you when young, who guided you in life's meridian — will not leave you now.

"Even down to old age all his people shall prove,
His sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love!
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in his bosom be borne!"

Young Christian, take courage. You have a long journey, it may be, before you. You have to cross a waste-howling wilderness. You will have to contend with Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites. The Amalekites may come out against you. Moab may hire soothsayers against you. But fear not — press on. Keep your eye on the cloud by day, and expect the fire at night. He who has mercy on you, will lead you, even by the springs of water will he guide you. You may at times be brought to a stand-still, and wonder which is the right path, when you come where two ways meet; but even then, you shall hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way — walk in it!"

Doubts may beset you,
fears may assault you,
Satan and the world may conspire against you
 — but your God will guide you!

He will support, supply, and defend you; and make all his goodness pass before you!

"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." Exodus 13:21-22
 

 

Nevertheless!

How much is sometimes conveyed to the mind by one word, especially by one inspired word. This word, NEVERTHELESS, has often been profitable to me; for it has conveyed sweet comfort, strong encouragement, and a powerful stimulus to me. I propose therefore to spend a few minutes, in looking at it, as it stands in a few different portions of God most holy Word.

1. In considering my many defects and shortcomings, I have at times been greatly depressed and discouraged, and have been tempted to give way to doubts and fears; but in looking into the divine Word, I find that all the saints have had their spots and their defects. I have been encouraged when I have read this, "But the high places were not taken away out of Israel; nevertheless the heart of Asa was faithful all his days." 2 Chronicles 15:17. Asa was not all that he ought to be, neither did he do all he ought or could have done; nevertheless he was sincere — and God thinks much of sincerity. He was heart-whole in his religion, though he had many imperfections.

And I trust, as deficient as I am, as imperfect as I am — I trust that I am sincere; my heart is in God's cause, and is set on God's glory. I have not taken away all the high places — I have still too many high thoughts, and high ways; nevertheless, I trust it will be found, that my heart is faithful with the Lord, and that I shall be found a sincere believer, though an imperfect Christian, all my days.

2. I have often been cast down in consequence of the dispensations of divine providence, and the mysterious dealings of the Lord with my soul. But in reading the Psalms, I have often found comfort, because I saw that the Lord's people had been exercised just in the same way in the days of old. Poor Asaph — how he was tried, dispirited, and distressed — but even in his case there was a nevertheless, as he says, "Nevertheless I am continually with you — you have held me by your right hand." Psalm 73:23.

So is there in my case too, for however the Lord has tried me, he has never forsaken me, nor let go his hold of me. I have slid back often — but he has held me fast, and he holds me fast still. Of many things I may be deprived — but the Lord has pledged his Word, that he will never leave me nor forsake me. And, not only so — but he will not let me leave him for long, nor wander from him far. "I am continually with you" — in the darkest night, in the most trying season. "You have held me with your right hand" — and this is the reason, why I have not fainted, been overcome, or utterly turned back!

3. I have at times thought, that in consequence of the power of sin, the deceitfulness of my own heart, and the wiles of the devil — I would certainly turn apostate, and forsake the right ways of the Lord. But there is one blessed, "Nevertheless," which has preserved and kept me until now; and I believe it will keep me even to the end.

For thus it is written, in reference to our beloved Lord, "I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure. If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, I will punish their sin with the rod, and their iniquity with flogging! Nevertheless, I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered!" Psalm 89:29-34. What a blessed "Nevertheless," is here!

He will correct — but not reject.

He will punish — but not disinherit.

He will turn his hand against them — but not his heart.

Lovingly he will rebuke and chasten — but will never turn against them, or allow them to apostatize from him.

Gracious God and Father, I bless you, I adore you, for your changeless love! I rejoice in the assurance, that whom you love, you love unto the end! Long ago, I would have left you — if permitted. Long ago, you would have hated me — if anything could have provoked you to do so. But, oh, I bless you, for those sweet words, "Nevertheless, I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness." And if not from Christ, the head — then not from the members, seeing we were chosen in him, blessed in him, are preserved in him, and are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

4. I have passed through many sad and sore afflictions, and in those afflictions I have been left at times, without any cheering light, comforting hope, or soul elevating consolation. I have cried — but could obtain no answer. I have sought the Lord — but could not find him. I have given way to doubt and despondency — until I have sunk deep in sadness and in gloom. I have been tempted to think that my case was hopeless, and my experience contrary to that of the Lord's family. I have fretted, complained, and repined; and have been ready to give up all for lost!

But there was one blessed "Nevertheless," that like a star in the midst of midnight darkness, gave me a little light, and cheered me with a little hope. In Psalm 106 I read of the conduct, or rather misconduct of Israel of old, how they provoked the Lord, and brought down his sore judgments upon them. But in verses 44, 45, it is written "Nevertheless he took note of their distress when he heard their cry; for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented!" What a blessed "Nevertheless," is this! After so much sin, so many provocations, and such severe chastisement, "Nevertheless!" After all, notwithstanding all, in spite of all, "Nevertheless he took note of their distress when he heard their cry!" As if it touched his paternal heart, stirred up the depths of his compassion, and aroused his tenderest pity! O infinitely gracious God! Again I bless your adorable name, for your long-suffering and tender mercy — toward such poor, weak, wicked, wayward worms of the earth!

5. I have been discouraged in my work very often, because I have seemed to labor in vain — to spend my strength for nothing, and in vain. But I have been cheered in reading of the fruitless toil of the disciples in the lake of Gennesaret, when they labored all night and caught nothing; and in the morning, when the Master bid them to launch out into the deep, and let down the net for a draught; Simon Peter said, "Master we have toiled all the night, and have caught nothing; Nevertheless, at your word I will let down the net." Luke 5:5. Yes, yes, if Jesus bids — then we must obey. We must be faithful — even when we are not successful. We cannot command success — but we can obey our Master's word. The commendation is not, "Well done, good and successful servant," but, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

If we have tolled in vain for a long time, perhaps the very next attempt may be crowned with extraordinary success. Yes, my soul, if you have toiled and caught nothing, remember you toiled for Jesus, whose ministry was not the most successful. You toiled for Jesus — who toiled much more for you. O it ought to be enough, if we are only permitted to do something for him — who has done so much for us! If we are only permitted to suffer a little for him — who suffered so deeply for us! If in any way we are permitted to show our love, and acknowledge our obligation to him! Yes, blessed, Messed Savior, though we catch nothing, though we seem to toil in vain — yet at your word we will let down the net!

As ministers of Christ, let us be encouraged by this! As Sunday school teachers, let us be stimulated by this! It is at the command of Jesus, it is out of love to Jesus, it is to honor Jesus — that we preach and teach; and therefore however discouraging the circumstances in which we are placed, let us say, "Nevertheless at your word, I will let down the net!"

6. I have at various times been much disheartened, and sometimes perplexed by the changeability of professors of religion. How many have I seen fall into sin, or run into error. Many have disgraced their profession, and many have cast it off altogether. But there is a "Nevertheless" in God's Word that has comforted me, and set me right.

Paul, writing to his beloved son Timothy, speaks of some who had erred from the truth, and had overthrown the faith of others — but he adds, "Nevertheless, the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal: the Lord "knows those who are his. And, Let every one that names the name of Christ, depart from iniquity." Yes, the Lord knows his own — and can distinguish them from mere pretenders. He is not surprised, or disappointed, at anything that takes place — though I am. He knows whom he has chosen. He knows every one upon whom he has set his mark. He requires that all who profess Christ — should imitate Christ, and walk as Christ walked — departing from all iniquity.

Amidst all the changes then that may take place in the Church, if professors fall away, if they forsake the truth, and embrace error — God's foundation remains firm! None are removed from that foundation, who are once built on it, and cemented to it. The sheep never perish, nor can any one pluck them out of our Father's hand!

7. Once more, I have seen great changes take place in the world, and greater changes must have taken place since the beginning; and greater changes will take place yet. But whatever changes may take place, however many, or however great — they ought not to disturb us; for the sure Word of God predicts them, and therefore we ought to expect them. Nor only so — but we should look beyond them, to what is to be introduced by them, for so did the apostles and primitive believers.

Hence Peter having spoken of the day of the Lord, when "the Heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare;" adds, "nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new Heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness!" 2 Peter 3:13.

What a glorious prospect this opens before us! What a blessed nevertheless is here! New Heavens! A new earth wherein dwells righteousness! Prepared specially for the saints, and intended for the glorification of our blessed Lord and Savior. I do not wonder that they sing above, "Unto him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father — to him be glory and dominion forever and ever! Amen." Nor am I surprised to read again, "And they sung a new song, saying: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth!" How glorious to reign on such a new earth! How delightful to reign with Jesus, to the honor of Jesus — as the purchase of his blood, and the beloved ones of his heart.

If therefore I witness changes, if I suffer losses, if I hear of earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, or the most terrible convulsions, or devastations — I will not be much disturbed — but will say with Peter, "Nevertheless, according to his promise, I am looking for new Heavens, and a new earth, wherein righteousness dwells!"

But I must not enlarge, though there are yet many more instances of the value and blessedness of this sweet word, "Nevertheless."

When Nehemiah and the Jews were in trouble, he says "Nevertheless, we made our prayer unto our God," Nehemiah 4:9, and this prayer was successful and brought relief.

When the Psalmist confesses the sins, provocations, and wickedness of his forefathers, he adds to the honor of God's free and unmerited grace, "Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known" Psalm 106:8. How full of comfort is this, to souls deeply sensible of their utter unworthiness!

When Solomon speaks of the many devices that are in a man's heart, he adds for our encouragement, "Nevertheless the counsel of the Lord — that shall stand." Proverbs 19:21.

When Paul speaks of his persecutions, afflictions, and imprisonment, for the gospel, in his letter to Timothy — he adds, in order to fortify him, "Nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day." 2 Timothy 1:12.

And when alluding to the grievous and painful chastisement endured by the Hebrew Christians, for their comfort he adds, "Nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those who are exercised thereby." Hebrews 12:11.

But if ever the word was uttered with inimitable grace, representing the most beautiful and lovely state of mind; it was when Jesus, lying on the cold ground in Gethsemane, said, "O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me — Nevertheless, not as I will — but as you will." Matthew 27:39.

And if ever it displayed unequaled courage, and conveyed the full persuasion of divinity, it was when it was uttered by the Lamb of God, as he stood before the High Priest, who said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God! Jesus replied unto him: Yes, it is as you say. Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall you see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven!" Matthew 26:64. Yes, blessed Jesus, the proud, haughty, scornful priest of Israel, shall have more than your word, to attest your claims, for he shall see you in your glory, and in your Father's glory, and all the holy angels with you!

O Lord Jesus, to submit to my Heavenly Father's will as you did, and to look forward amidst all my sufferings, poverty, and pains, to the fulfillment of the apostolic testimony: "When Christ who is our life shall appear — then you shall also appear with him in glory!"


 

Fear and Folly!

"And Adam said: I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself!" Genesis 3:10

Sin is the source of both fear and folly.

Sin produces guilt;
guilt fills with fear; and
fear betrays into folly.

Every sinner therefore is called a fool in God's Word. All this we see in our first father, Adam. He had loved God as his father, conversed familiarly with him as his friend, and found his presence to be exquisitely delightful. He had no idea of being alarmed at the presence of God, or of being terrified by hearing his voice. He had rather listened to it with the deepest interest, had felt profound reverence, had glowed with holy love, and had been wrought up into a divine rapture while his Maker condescended to hold converse with him. Every thought of God had been pleasant, every view of his Creator had been delightful.

But now, he had new conceptions of God, and new and painful feelings sprang up towards him. He thought of his God as a Judge — a Judge who would pronounce sentence upon him, and deliver him over to the tormentors. Oh, fearful change! Oh, bitter fruit of sin!

He felt guilty, he had violated his Creator's law. He had merited his just wrath. He could only expect the fulfillment of the sentence, "You shall surely die!"

What was meant by death? He knew not. He had never seen death. He could not guess what was intended by it exactly. No doubt it was something terrible — very terrible.

He felt embarrassed. He knew not what to do, or which way to take. His minutes were hours. His life became irksome. Heavy sighs escaped him. Deep groans were heard in his soul.

He was alarmed. What was about to happen? What would be his doom? He felt that he was exposed to all that was contained in the divine threatening. But what was that?

He felt also that he was inexcusable. He had no cloak for his sin. He was blame-worthy. He deserved to suffer, and he saw no way of escape.

This is just how every sinner will feel, sooner or later:
guilty,
embarrassed,
alarmed,
exposed to the wrath of God,
without excuse!

All this springing from his own fault — his own sin!

He was AFRAID. What made him so?

He was naked. Not merely his body — but his soul was naked. His righteousness was gone. That righteousness had been to him as a robe, and as a diadem. It made him bold, fearless, confident. It was, like suitable clothing — his defense, his comfort, and his ornament. But it was gone! He had willfully cast it away — and he was naked. He felt defenseless, miserable, and degraded.

In this state, with such feelings — he must meet, face, and account for his conduct to his Maker. Oh, sorry plight to be in! Well may he feel afraid.

But so will every lost sinner. It is a fearful thing to appear naked before God. A naked soul, meeting the piercing glance of God's eye, which is as a flame of fire — must be most terrible! To feel exposed to the eye of God, ashamed to be seen — how painful!

Reader, you may have to appear naked before God! What if you should? If you die in your sins — you must!

Think of standing naked before the Heavenly multitudes!

Think of standing naked before an assembled world!

This is bad enough. But to stand naked before God's eye — what, oh, what will that be!

He heard his Maker in the garden, he dreaded his presence; and, therefore, instead of going forth to meet him and converse with him as before — he was filled with fear, and hid himself among the trees of the garden!


What
FOLLY — to think of hiding himself from the omniscient eye of God, behind the foliage of the shrubs, or the trunk of a tree.

"I hid myself." What pride! What an endeavor to seem to be what he was not. He did not meditate a defense — but, like a guilty coward, he fled! He did not sue for, or expect a pardon–for he had never heard of mercy, sweet mercy! He did not think of employing a plea — what could he plead? He felt . . .
that his sin was great;
that his state was dangerous;
that his prospects were gloomy;
and that his destiny was a secret.

What would become of him?

His was the sin of a world. It was . . .
the turning of a world against God,
the alienating a world from God,
The exposing a world to the wrath of God!

O Adam, what, what have you done?

Well, well might he be afraid!

The crown of glory had fallen from his head;
the robe of beauty was torn from his body;
confidence and courage had fled from his heart;
guilt and fear had taken possession of his breast.

What a fearful change!

What a terrible wreck!

And this is the state, the condition of every unconverted man!

He is naked before God!

Naked by his own fault!

Naked to his eternal shame!

But is there no hope? Blessed be God — there is! Is there no possibility of being hidden from the eye of justice, and of being once more clothed before God? Yes, yes, there is! "Behold, I bring you good news, glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." There is no ground for despondency, nor cause to fear; no occasion to try to hide yourself, either behind trees, or under rocks and mountains.

God will hide those who do not attempt to hide from him. He has provided a hiding-place for sinners, and that hiding-place is his own beloved Son. All other hiding-places shall be destroyed, as it is written, "I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding-place!" Isaiah 28:17

Only one shelter remains, "A man shall be a hiding-place!" (Isaiah 32:2.) That man is Jesus — the spotless Lamb of God. This is the Stronghold — to which the prisoners of hope are directed. This is the Strong Tower — into which we may run and be safe. In Jesus there is no condemnation. In Jesus the sinner finds all that he needs!

His filthy nature will be cleansed, in purifying blood.

His naked soul will be clothed with righteousness divine.

A title to eternal life will be given him.

A fitness for life will be wrought in him.

All guilt will be removed from the conscience.

All slavish fear will be chased from the heart.

He will neither be afraid nor ashamed to appear before God.

Paradise was lost by sin; but Heaven is gained, by faith in Jesus. O blessed, thrice blessed hiding-place for a sinner!

Are you, reader, in this hiding-place?

In Christ — every blessing is yours.

Out of Christ — the wrath of God abides on you.

Many, it is to be feared, will yet be as foolish as Adam was. They will try to hide themselves from God, or at least to cover and conceal their nakedness by some fig-leaves of their own. But "There is no darkness, no deep darkness, where evildoers can hide themselves!" Job 34:22.

It will be all in vain to cry "to the mountains and the rocks — Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!" Revelation 6:16.

If you are not hiding yourself in Christ, God puts to you this solemn question, "Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord." Jeremiah 23:24.

And all who attempt to hide from God, instead of taking refuge in the hiding-place provided by God, are thus solemnly threatened, "Even if they dig down into Hell — I will reach down and pull them up. Even if they climb up into the heavens — I will bring them down. Even if they hide at the very top of Mount Carmel — I will search them out and capture them. Even if they hide at the bottom of the ocean, I will send the sea serpent after them to bite them!" Amos 9:2-3

It will indeed be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Before his face, so solemn is his glory, that Heaven and earth will be ready to flee away. And then his coming will be so dreadful — not like when he came to Adam — in the cool of the day, calm, pitiful, and full of love. No! "The Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power!"

Lost sinner! The storm is gathering, the distant thunder is rolling, the lightnings begin to flash! To the refuge — to the refuge — to the hiding-place without delay! Soon Almighty God will rain down snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest. Soon you will see the great white throne fixed, and will be summoned to appear before it, for the day of vengeance is in his heart! Think, O think of one passage, which will soon be a fearful reality to you, "The great day of His wrath has come! And who is able to stand?"

 

 

The Rest!

"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Hebrews 4:9

There was a rest for Adam in Paradise — which he lost by sin.

There was a rest for Israel in Canaan — which many forfeited by unbelief.

There is a rest for the Christian in Christ — which can only be enjoyed by faith.

And there is a rest for all the saints in Heaven — to which we can only be admitted at death.

To one of the last two, the Apostle refers; some think to the former, and some to the latter. We shall consider the words as referring to HEAVEN:
our Father's house,
our Savior's home, and
our eternal dwelling-place!

To the weary and way-worn — there is something delightful in the thought of REST, and they love to think of Heaven as the place where they shall "rest from their labors."

REST gives us the idea of . . .
repose
— the calm, quiet repose of the soul;
refreshment
— the refreshment of the exhausted spirit after conflict, sickness, or toil;
restoration to vigor
— after debility, lassitude, and fainting.

Heaven will be a rest . . .
from sin — which will no more grieve us;
from sorrow — which will no more trouble and distress us;
from fears — which will no more harass and perplex us; and
from conflicts — which will no more agitate and suppress us.

It will be a rest . . .
with God in his glory,
with Jesus in his immediate presence,
with saints and holy angels in full perfection and blessedness.

This rest is FUTURE — it remains for the people of God.

This rest is the object of our hope and DESIRE. We look forward to it, with holy longing and cheering anticipations.

This rest is PERFECT — free from all mixture of anything that will agitate, give pain, or cause grief.

This rest is UNINTERRUPTED — nothing will ever occur to disturb, distress, or agitate us more.

This rest is GLORIOUS — as bright as the meridian sun, as balmy as the most pleasant morning, as glowing with holiness, splendor, and majesty.

This rest is ETERNAL — and this is best of all. The possibility of a change, of a return to former scenes — would spoil all. But that rest will be enduring — as changeless as the Divine nature, and as glorious as the Divine perfections.

Blessed be God for such a rest for the weary, suffering, and downcast believer in Jesus! Oh, to keep the eye fixed upon it, and the heart expecting it — amidst all the troubles and trials of time!

This rest is FOR the redeemed people of God. Not for the Jews as such, nor for the Gentiles as such — but for the Lord's people. The people He has chosen for himself, as says the Apostle, "God has chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."

This rest is for the people He claims as his own, being set apart for himself in his eternal purpose, redeemed to God by the blood of his Son, out of every nation, country, people, and tongue. He claims them by his Holy Spirit in the day of his power.

This rest is for the people whom He himself teaches, as Jesus said, "It is written in the prophets — they shall be all taught of God, everyone therefore that has heard and learned of the Father, comes unto Me." Divine teaching is educating for eternity, and God thus educates all his own people. The people He prepares — for Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Jesus is gone to prepare the place for the people — and the Holy Spirit comes to prepare the people for the place. To this end, He creates them anew in Christ Jesus, and makes them fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

They are now a poor, tried, tempted, and restless people; strangers and pilgrims upon the earth, as all their fathers were.

Satan tempts them,
sinners try them,
fears harass them,
Providence perplexes them,
and they often cry out, "O that I had wings like a dove, then would I fly away and be at rest!"

Believer, let the prospect of this eternal glorious rest, cheer you in toil and trouble! Your work will soon be finished, your trouble will soon come to an end, and then the rest — the glorious rest, remains for you! Let it encourage you to labor and suffer: labor for Jesus, who is preparing the rest for you; suffer in the cause of Jesus, acquiescing in his will, who once suffered for you, and now rests as you will soon.

Think of the Christian believers — what they suffered, and how they suffered; they "joyfully accepted the confiscation of their property, because they knew that they had better and lasting possessions."

Let your Heavenly rest, quicken your pace homewards! You are going to a rest — a perfect, uninterrupted, and eternal rest; a rest in Heaven, a rest with Jesus, a rest in the presence of your God forever; therefore gird up the loins of your mind, and press on towards the mark, cheered by the prospect at the end of the race.

Remember, Christian, this rest is SECURE, for Jesus has taken possession of it for you. "I am going," said He, "to prepare a place for you." "Where," said the Apostle, alluding to Heaven, "Where the forerunner has for us entered, even Jesus." Yes, Jesus is gone there for you, He has taken possession in your name, He is preparing your place, and will soon come and receive you to himself!

Remember too, that it is NEAR — very near. Perhaps much nearer than you may think.

You may be sighing, sorrowing, striving, wrestling, doubting, fearing, and cast down today — and tomorrow you may be in your Heavenly rest!

Today, you may be lying, like Lazarus, at the rich man's gate, full of sores; tomorrow, you may be in Heaven!

Today, you may be dwelling in Mesech, or in the tents of Kedar; tomorrow, you may be basking in the beams of Immanuel's glory!

Today, you may be on the bed of sickness, suffering, and pain; tomorrow, you may be in the presence of Jesus, where there is no more pain, neither sorrow nor crying!

Who can tell how near we all are to our Heavenly and everlasting rest?

Remember also, that your very trials, toils, and sufferings here on earth, may SWEETEN your rest to you! And that soon, very soon — you may be rejoicing over your present sorrows, and praising God for what now fills you with grief and sadness. Things will look very different there — from what they do here. Never, never forget, then, in your darkest nights, in your most trying days, in the midst of every storm and tempest, when passing over burning sands and under a scorching sky — that there remains a rest for the people of God, and a rest for you!

"Arise and depart; for this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy!"

"There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest!"


But, "there is NO REST, says my God, to the WICKED!" His soul is restless now, and, dying as he is — he will be restless forever. "And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever. There is no rest day or night!" O think of an eternity of unrest! Think of an eternity of toil, agony, and woe! Think, and so think as to accept and act upon the invitation of Jesus, who is now at this moment saying unto you, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls!"

 

The Good Fortune!

"Godliness with contentment is great gain!" 1 Timothy 6:6

Godliness is conformity to the moral image of God, and the entire consecration of the soul to the Lord's service. The godly are created anew in Christ Jesus; they are united to God through Jesus; and have all the graces or fruits of the Spirit within them. They view things very much as God does; hence they look . . .
upon sin — as the greatest of all evils;
upon the world — as a vast vanity;
upon saints — as the excellent of the earth;
and upon the Lord Jesus — as altogether lovely!

They . . .
hate sin,
renounce the world,
unite with the saints, and
adore the Savior as their God and Lord.

They approve of God's precepts, and choose the condition which He prescribes. They . . .
love God,
believe in Jesus,
walk in the Spirit,
fear sin,
loathe self, and
walk in the fear of the Lord.

They . . .
rely wholly on the perfect work of Christ for acceptance;
pant for holiness with ardent longing; and
desire always to acquiesce in the sovereign will of God.

True godliness produces and strengthens contentment; and contentment is the calm sunshine of a man's life. We do not mean . . .
sitting down in idleness,
feeling at home in filth,
or indulging in negligence;
this would be a disgrace to any creature, especially a professing Christian!

But contentment is connected with . . .
honest industry,
general cleanliness, and
a concern for the honor of God.

True contentment springs from acknowledging and eyeing God's providence, whose "tender mercies are over all His works." It is . . .
a bowing to His will — as the infinitely wise and invariably good;
believing the promises He has given;
expecting the provision He has made; and
feeling satisfied to share in the common lot with His people.

Contented Christians prize spiritual blessings before temporal, and live sensible of their demerit and desert. They know that everything short of Hell is a favor — and that the glories of Heaven will more than make amends for all the toils and privations of this world's wilderness pilgrimage. They do not expect to find rest below, or a paradise in the desert of this world. They are persuaded, "that all things work together for good, to those who love God, and are the called according to His purpose."

Pride is slain, and humility flourishes; for pride is the parent of . . .
discontent,
ingratitude,
peevishness,
rebellion against God,
and many other evils.

While humility produces . . .
contentment,
patience,
gratitude,
submission to the will of God,
and many other virtues.

The godly who are contented are rich — for they have a good fortune!

They have inward peace and satisfaction of mind — which are better than gold!

They are filled with gratitude and thankfulness to God — which are better than a large estate!

They have love to God and delight in Him — which are preferable to a splendid mansion!

They have a joyful anticipation of eternal glory, of being acknowledged as the sons of God, and fellow-heirs of Jesus — which is to be esteemed above all the titles and honors of this perishing world!

They contendly live in the enjoyment of what they now have — realizing that their glorious portion is yet to come! Their aspirations are on the same level as their earthly condition — hence, they are strangers to fretfulness, murmuring, and the constant vexations which most men experience. They prove that, "Better a little with the fear of the Lord — than great wealth with turmoil."

Reader, are you a godly person? Are you acquainted with God — as your God, your Friend, your Father? Are you contented with your place, portion, and prospect in this perishing world! If so, you have a good fortune!
 

 

The Judge!

"God is the Judge!" Psalm 75:7

There is one supreme judge of what is right and wrong — and that judge is Jesus. He is qualified to judge, and He is appointed to sit in judgment on all the actions of men, and to reward every one according to his works.

But it is not to God's final judgment we are about to refer — but to the present. Many professors talk, or seem to feel, as if great mistakes were made, and therefore they justify themselves in complaining. But Jesus is Judge of what is right, and what is best.

His wisdom is infinite;
His knowledge comprehends the past, the present, and the future;
His power is omnipotent;
His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, and is over all His works;
His love to His people surpasses knowledge.

This being the case, there can be no question that Jesus is the best Judge of what is right, and of what should be.
 

God is the Judge — as to our PERSONS. Some wish they had more strength, some that they had more health, some that they had more beauty, some one thing, some another thing. Some imagine that they are too tall — and some not tall enough. Some are crooked, or otherwise deformed — and are grieved that they are not straight or well formed.

But God is the Judge, and our formation, size, shape, appearance, etc, are all according to His will; and if according to His will — it must be best. Beware of how you sit in judgment on the wisdom of God, or think yourself capable of improving His plans.

God is the Judge as to who should be born — their size, shape, appearance, and every other particular. Therefore be silent before Him; be satisfied with your lot, and believe that by and bye you will see a reason for what tries or troubles you at present. If you were humble, you would not be much affected by what man may think, or what man may say — but would bow before God, and say, "If I can honor You by being deformed, or destitute of beauty, or weak, or diseased — it is enough. May Your will be done, Your name be hallowed, Your glory be advanced — and I am content; more — I am well-pleased!"
 

God is the Judge — as to our CIRCUMSTANCES.

Whether I am to be rich, or to be poor;
whether I am employer, or employed;
whether I am healthy, or sick;
whether I thrive, or go to wreck —
God is the Judge as to which is best. He is Judge as to the nature or number of my mercies, trials, troubles, comforts, crosses, losses, bereavements and varied changes.

I cannot tell what would be best — what would really do me good. I must . . .
bow to the wisdom of the All-wise God,
accept the appointments of His Grace, and
be satisfied with the arrangements of Infinite Love.

If there was anything like 'chance' in the world — I might complain, or wish for an alteration. But since God exercises His judgment, and has ordained my lot — it is for me to approve of it, and seek grace that I may honor Him in it.

God is the Judge — as to our EVENTS. Many things are sent to try us; and they try our thoughts, our faith, our fortitude, our patience, our humility, and our perseverance. How things may end — we do not know. What certain providences are intended to produce — we are not informed. But we may rest assured of this — that . . .
God's ends will be accomplished,
His purposes will be performed, and
the predictions of His Word will be fulfilled.

We may, therefore, very safely leave all results to God. The path of duty is plainly marked out. We should walk in that path, taking no thought for the morrow. We should . . .
trust God's promises,
walk by God's precepts,
observe God's providences;
and then we may say, "I have nothing to do with the future, for God is the Judge! He puts down one — and sets up another."

Christian, are you tempted to complain of your lot? Or, do you wish to choose for yourself? It is better to leave it with God — and try to believe that it is best to be as you are, and where you are. There is no doubt that you can glorify God exactly where you are, more than anywhere else.

You can do all that God wishes you to do — right where you are. It is not a change of circumstances — so much as a change of heart that you need. You need more grace and contentment — rather than more health, or wealth, or beauty. Depend upon it, God has made no mistake! And if your body is not so finely formed, or you are not so indulged with health, or so favored with gifts as some are — it is all right, for God is the Judge! It is HIS doing, and "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

Defer to God's judgment,
lie low before God's throne,
seek to be filled with God's Spirit —
and so you will be satisfied to have all things ruled by God's will.

He does according to His will in heaven — and there is no complaint or repining there. And he does according to His will on earth — and there should be no dissatisfaction with God's allotments.

We have too high an opinion of ourselves, and of our own judgments; and while this is the case, we shall attempt to invade the rights of the Most High God, or to dictate to the Supreme Ruler! Man — poor, vain man — would gladly be judge! He would take the throne of his Maker! He would . . .
snatch the rule from His hand,
judge His justice,
be the God of God!

But who are you that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say unto Him that formed it, "Why have you made me thus?"

God is the Judge! Therefore be silent all the earth, before the Lord!


 

Divine Care!

"Casting all your care upon Him — for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

The Christian's life is very much made up of cares — and comforts.
Cares spring from earth — comfort comes from Heaven;
cares prove him to be a sinner — holy comforts prove him a believer;
cares flow in from a variety of quarters — true comfort from only one;
cares come naturally — but comforts come supernaturally.

We are sure to have cares — but shall we have comfort? This depends on God's grace — which gives it; and our faith — which receives it.

Cares must be cast on our God, or they will prove a burden too heavy for us — they will depress, bewilder, and make us wretched! But here is our comfort — we have always One to care for us; and the very one who of all others — we would wish to do so: "The LORD cares for you!" 

God cares for WHOM? For you believer, who is born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God which lives and abides forever. For you believer, who is a stranger and pilgrim on the earth, as all your fathers were. For you believer, who is persecuted by the world, and hated by all men — for your Savior's sake. For you believer, to whom Christ is precious, as he is to every one who really believes in him. For you believer, who is worried and harassed by Satan — who as a roaring lion goes about seeking whom he may devour. For you believer, who is placed in humble circumstances, being numbered with the poor of this world. For you believer, who is compassed about with so many cares, and who enjoys so few comforts; who is surprised at the fiery trials which try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you. God's care extends to every Christian; the young and the aged, the weak and the strong, the poor and the wealthy, the doubting and the confident. Believer, He cares for you!
 

WHO is it, that cares for us? It is the Lord Almighty — the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy! It is He whom the angels obey, the seraphim adore, and all creation glorifies!

It is the Lord — who is so great, that we have no adequate conception of His greatness!

It is He who is so good — that it is impossible fully to set forth His goodness!

It is He who is so glorious — that no sinner can see His face and live!

It is He who created all things with His Word!

It is He who governs all things by His wisdom!

It is He who upholds all things by His power!

It is He whose resources are infinite!

It is He whose compassion is exquisite!

It is He whose patience is without limit!

But though he is so exalted, so happy, and so unspeakably great — He cares for you! He is the one who . . .
enters into all the circumstances of His people,
is ever present with them, and
rejoices over them to do them good.

He cares for you — as base as you are.

He cares for you — as sinful as you are.

He cares for you — as depressed and discouraged as you are.

HE cares for YOU! He cares for you individually, and according to the circumstances in which you are placed.
 

WHAT does he do? He cares for you. He thinks of you. He watches over you. He sympathizes with you. He feels the deepest interest in you. He ever seeks your welfare. He infallibly secures your good. Your misery touches his heart; your needs lie open to his view; and your cries enter into his ears. He cares for you — more than for the proudest monarch on his throne, or the mightiest production of his power.

He cares for you, and his care is constant — it is not fitful or occasional, but ever the same.

He cares for you, and his care is paternal; it is the care of a father for his child, the child whom he tenderly loves, and for whose welfare he feels the deepest concern.

He cares for you, and his care is perpetual; he will never care for you less than he does at present; when old age weakens you, when needs pinch you, when death appears just before you — he will care for you as much as he did in youth, or as he does at this moment.

He cares for you, and his care is beneficial; it prevents innumerable evils, and secures the greatest possible amount of good. It is more advantageous than the care of the kindest father, though that father were monarch of the mightiest empire, and possessed unbounded wealth! The care of God is of more value than the care of all his creatures combined.

He cares for you, but his care is mysteriously exercised; it benefits us certainly — but secretly. It conceals itself behind the blessings it brings, and the evils it prevents.

He cares for you, and his care is special; it is not the care which he has for the beasts which perish, or the sinners who die under his frown. It is care that extends to the very hairs of your heads — which are all numbered; and to all the events and occurrences of life — however minute or commonplace.

Beloved, here is our comfort. We may lose the care of an earthly parent by death — but the Lord ever lives, and while he lives he cares for us! We may lose the care of a kind and earthly friend, through the malice of a foe or misrepresentations — but the Lord ever loves us, thoroughly knows us, and never ceases to care for us.

Here is the ground of our confidence for the future. We cannot put trust in a friend, or put confidence in a guide; we know not where we shall be, nor what we shall be, for we know not what a day may bring forth. But this we know, that God will care for us, and, caring for us, will fulfill his promises to us, and make all his goodness pass before us.

If God cares for us — then let us cast all our cares upon him; let us live in daily fellowship with him; let us seek all our supplies from him. If God cares for us — let us not dishonor him by nursing our doubts, or encouraging our fears — but let us trust in him at all times, for his word is true, his love is constant, and his knowledge is perfect. Let us "be anxious for nothing — but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known unto God; and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6, 7).

Let us attend to our Savior's loving admonition, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own!" (Matthew 6:34).

We shall never be without a friend — however trying our circumstances may be; or without a guide — however perplexing or difficult our path. The care of God is more than the care of all the angelic multitudes; and if the care of God is not sufficient to preserve, supply, and satisfy us — then nothing is.

May the Lord help us to believe this precious truth, to realize it daily, that we may pass through the present world under the impression, "I am the object of God's tender, perfect, and ceaseless care!"
 

 

The Incomparable Rock!

"There is no Rock like our God!" 1 Samuel 2:2

As creatures, we all need . . .
an object of trust,
one on whom we can lean,
one in whom we can confide,
one to whom we may look for defense and safety.

As lost sinners, we need more. Every creature has some rock, some object of dependence and trust; for without this, there would be recklessness or despair.

Some make a rock of their wealth,
some of their talents,
some of their station,
some of their friends,
some of their good deeds,
some of their religious observances,
some of their name or fame.

But the Christian's rock is his God, that is — God in Christ. Yes, Jesus is . . .
the foundation of his hopes,
the source of his strength,
the anchor of his safety, and
the fountain that supplies him!

In Christ, his Rock — he finds honey, and this rock pours out rivers of oil for him, "He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag." Deuteronomy 32:13. This rock, Christ — is the rock of his salvation. This rock of ages — is the rock of his strength. Of this rock, he can sing, "The Lord is my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior!" 2 Samuel 22:2-3

Looking around upon all others he can say, "But their 'rock' is not like our Rock; even our enemies concede." Deuteronomy 32:31.

There is no rock like our rock:
none so great,
none so ancient,
none so durable,
none so suited to meet all a sinner's needs!

On this rock we build for eternity! We have no doubt that our immortal interests are safe. To this rock we run for safety, and smile at the opposition of all our foes. In this rock we hide, and are safe from the sword of divine justice, as well as the rage of infernal hell. In this rock we take shelter, and are uninjured by the windy storm and tempest.

From this rock we look for all our supplies — and we are not, cannot be disappointed. Beneath its shade — we enjoy peace and comfort! In its cleft — we are safe for evermore!

How gracious, how condescending is our God, to compare himself to such a natural object, on purpose to . . .
inspire us with confidence,
arm us with courage, and
fill us with comfort!

How safe, how happy is the believer — having God for his ROCK; for . . .
he builds on a foundation that can never decay,
he trusts in a stronghold that can never be taken,
he hides in a refuge from which he can never be expelled!

How foolish is the lost sinner . . .
to build on the SAND — with a rock so near;
to trust in himself — with such a defense at hand;
to expose himself to his foes — with such a refuge within reach!

Lost sinner! Jesus, in his person, obedience, and blood — is a firm foundation for you to build on! Jesus in his offices, relations, and engagements — is a hiding-place where you may find safety, in life and death, in time and eternity. Come then to Jesus, and build your immortal hopes on him. Believe in Jesus, and be saved perfectly and eternally by him. Hide yourself in Jesus, and then, let what will happen — you can have no cause of fear, no reason to be alarmed — for the eternal God is your strength and your portion forever!

"The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!" 2 Samuel 22:47

 

Christ Died for Our Sins! 

"Christ died for our sins!" 1 Corinthians 15:3

What a glorious testimony is this! It is a main feature of Paul's gospel. He preached it everywhere. He preached it to all. It was much for Christ to live for us, pray for us, and work for us; but it was much more for Christ to die for us — to die for our sins! But for our sins, the Son of God would never have . . .
become man,
lived in poverty with worms below,
suffered and died.

In the cross, we see . . .
the worst atrocity in the universe,
the means of the greatest display of God's love,
and the Savior's wonderful condescension.

But for sin, the Word would never have been made flesh — and the universe would never have seen God's perfect and complete character exhibited! The cross is a mirror, in which is seen all His divine attributes, and glorious perfections. We see God's character fully manifested — in the salvation of His people. The death of Christ is a subject which fills the holiest intellect with wonder and astonishment. Only in the sufferings and death of Christ, is the true nature of sin seen, and the full glory of God displayed.

"Christ died for our sins," to get rid of our sins. To remove them from God's sight, that they may not provoke the eyes of his holiness. To erase them from his book — that justice may not bring them forward at the grand assize. To give full satisfaction for them, that Satan may not justly accuse us with them.

Jesus, the Son of God took our nature — that he might be capable of dying for our sins. He took our place — that he might be allowed to die for us. Having our nature, and voluntarily coming into our place — he became our Substitute. He stood for us. He was accepted for us. He engaged to do, and suffer, all that could be required for our salvation.

His obedience to the law, therefore, was for us.

His sufferings were for us.

His death was for us.

His obeying the law — was as if we obeyed it.

His suffering the desert of sin — was as if we suffered it.

His dying for our sins — was as if we had died for them.

This being the case, as believers in him, as united to him, as represented by him — we are free . . .
from all charges,
from all condemnation,
from all just occasion to fear wrath.

"Christ died for our sins," to obtain our eternal redemption. That redemption, includes . . .
present pardon,
freedom from the law of sin and death,
admission into the presence and favor of God,
complete and eternal deliverance from sin, and all its penal consequences.

In consequence, the grave must give back our bodies, and they, strong, spiritual, glorious, and immortal — become the abodes of our sinless souls forever. Then in the enjoyment of perfect freedom, we shall live and reign with our glorious Redeemer and Savior, enjoying the smile of God, and the perfection of holiness and happiness forever!

"Christ died for our sins," and so became our Savior; and becoming our Savior, He became . . .
our Lord,
our Lawgiver,
our Advocate,
our Judge,
our all in all.

Christ therefore, as having died for our sins, and as having risen again for our justification — is the glorious object of our faith, hope, and affection.

In him we confide;
from him, and through him, we expect every blessing;
and on him our warmest love is fixed.

Blessed Savior, your death prevents our damnation, and your resurrection secures our everlasting salvation!

We shall never die for our sins — because you have died for them!

We shall never be held in the grave — for your resurrection secures our deliverance! Our present pardon, peace, and every blessing — come to us through Christ dying for us! And our perfect sanctification, resurrection, and glorification, are now certain — because "Christ died for our sins!"

O my soul, whenever tempted by Satan to despond and give way to slavish fears, call to mind this glorious truth, "Christ died for our sins!"

O my soul, whenever you have guilt upon your conscience, and corruption rages like a stormy sea within you — then remember that "Christ died for our sins!" When your sins stare you in your face, or rise up like mountains before you — do not forget that "Christ died for our sins!"

Yes, Jesus died for those very sins which now alarm and terrify you, which rise up in such horrid forms before you! And such is the efficacy of His blood — that it cleanses from all sin! No sin is too great, no stain is too deep — for it to remove! The vilest sinner, through Christ's precious blood — shall be as faultless and pure as a holy angel.

Reader, did Jesus die for your sins? If you sincerely believe on him — he did. Those for whom Jesus died, are by the Holy Spirit convinced of sin, and are led to exercise sincere faith in him. He who believes, is born of God; for true faith in Christ, is the effect and proof of the new birth; and the new birth is produced by the Spirit, to honor Jesus, and that he may see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.

If therefore I am born of God, I shall believe in Christ to the salvation of my soul; and if I believe in Jesus thus — there can be no question that he died for my sins.

If Christ did not die for them, then we must eternally die. How infinitely important then is faith in him, for to him give all prophets witness, that through His name, whoever believes on him, shall receive remission of sins. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him!"
 

 

A New Year's Motto!

"Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!" Luke 21:28

The time of his second coming approaches, and it befits his disciples to think of that event, and diligently prepare for it. But if we do not witness the descent of our Lord in the clouds — death will soon come and usher us into his presence; and before that we may be exposed to many and painful troubles, so that the direction given by our Lord to his disciples may be just suitable, "Then look up!"

We are entering upon a new year, we shall have new toils, new trials, new temptations, and new troubles; but whenever they come — let us "look up!" And, with a view to encourage our souls to do so, let us, at the opening of the year, consider —  

First, the OCCASIONS to which this advice is applicable. There may be national calamities — such as pestilence, famine, or war; but whatever comes upon the nation, the Christians in it should "look up"

There may be persecution — laborers may lose their jobs, cottagers their cottages, and children many of their comforts, for Christ's and conscience' sake. While the sword of the magistrate is sheathed, the pen, the tongue, the frowning countenance — persecutes some; the withholding employment or custom persecutes others; but if persecution should rage against any of us this year, let us "look up."

Providence may frown and throw us into perplexity and difficulty; losses and crosses may become almost our daily lot; we may think that God is turned against us, and that everything is contrary to us; but when our circumstances are most trying, when our souls are ready to faint within us — then let us remember the Lord has engaged for us by promise and by covenant, and let us "look up."

We may be called to change our residences, and leave dear friends and connections behind us; or, what is worse, our friends may be alienated from us, and turn against us; but if every friend frowns upon us, even if father and mother forsake us, or if we be removed to the ends of the earth — let us remember that our God is the same to us, and that he is ever near us; therefore let us "look up."

If death should enter in at our windows, and take away the desire of our eyes with a stroke; if our parents should die, our children be removed, or our wives or husbands be laid in the grave; though lover and friend be removed far from us, and our acquaintance into darkness, still, whatever death may do — let us determine that we will "look up."

If darkness becloud our evidences, obscure our path, and throw its gloom over our minds; if discouragement brood over our souls, or place stumbling-blocks in our way; if all our past experience appear questionable, and our acceptance with God at present doubtful, still let us not give way or yield to despondency — but let us "look up."

If thrown on the bed of sickness, racked with pain and fainting with weakness; if death stand before us, and the grave appear ready for us; if eternity throws its revealing light upon us, or draws back its curtain to us — let us not tremble, or shake with fear, but let us "look up." In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year — let us seek grace to follow our Lord's loving advice, and "look up" We will now notice —  

Secondly, the DIRECTION our Savior gives: "Then look up!"

Do not look back — as Lot's wife did.

Do not look within — as too many do.

Do not look around — as David did.

But "look up!" Look up to God — He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, "Look unto Me, and be delivered — for I am God!"

Look up for light to guide you — and He will direct your path.

Look up for grace to sanctify you — and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.

Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God's will — and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.

Look up for comfort to cheer you — and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.

Look up for courage to embolden you — and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might — He will increase strength.

Look up for endurance to keep you — and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.

Look up for providence to supply you — and the jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Look up in faith — exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.

Look up in prayer — asking for what God has graciously promised.

Look up in hope — expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.

Look up with adoration — and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.

Look up constantly — let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, "Our eyes are on the Lord our God until He shows us mercy."

Look up — for this will keep . . .
the head from swimming,
the heart from sinking,
the knees from trembling,
the feet from slipping, and
the hands from hanging down!

Well, my friends, what do you say? Will you follow this advice? Will you take this counsel? Will you act upon this direction? He who loves you best, who knows you most, and who always wishes you well — gave it. Take it — and you will never regret it. Act upon it — and you will never repent of it.

It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year — but "Look up!" This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
procure for us all that we need,
secure us against all that we dread, and
make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!

Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? "Look up" and hear Jesus saying to you, "Do not be afraid — I Myself will help you!"

Are you discouraged? "Look up" — and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle's, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!

Are you desponding? "Look up" for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.

Do not look too much at your sin — look most at the infinitely meritorious blood of God's dear Son!

Do not look too much at self — but look at Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.

Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods? Then look up! He who stripped you — loves you! He will be more than all these to you! He will bind up your broken heart, calm your perturbed spirit, cheer your drooping mind, and fill you with his own peace and happiness.

Look up . . .
for all that you need;
from all that you fear;
through all that would obstruct your way;
and notwithstanding all that would deter you from doing so.

Look up every day, saying with David, "In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and will look up!" Psalm 5:3

Look up in every trial, saying "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help: my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!"

Do not look at your sin — it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self — it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan — he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men — they will deceive, or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials — they will deject you!

But do as the church did, look up "until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees" (Lamentations 3:50).

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us — looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:1-2. Look only, look always, look intently, to Jesus; run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking — to Jesus, who is at God's right hand in glory. Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!

 

Hidden Sin!

"The Lord does not see it!" Ezekiel 9:9

"My way is hidden from the Lord!" Isaiah 40:27

"The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record!" Hosea 13:12

The only thing some fear is exposure. They would not be exhibited in their true colors before their fellow-men — for all the world! They wish to live and act in the dark. They do not fear the eye of God — but they dread the eye of man! In public they are one thing — and in private just the opposite! No one really knows them.

There is a vast amount of hypocrisy in the world. Multitudes wear a mask. They are not at all — what they seem to be. This is sad. The consequences will be fearful by and bye.

Open sinners offend God and men — secret sinners offend God only! But God is the principal party. Better offend the whole world — than offend God. But who are these secret sinners?

There is the sly drunkard. The man who only gets intoxicated at home, or who manages to drink much, and yet never reel in the street. He robs his family. He introduces disease into his body. He squanders his property. He becomes selfish. He neglects his duties; moral, entirely; domestic, in part. Few, if any suspect him, until at length his bloated countenance begins to tell tales. "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

There is the crafty deceiver. He practices deception upon the ignorant and unwary. He talks like an honest man — but he acts like a rogue. Believe his plausible pretensions — and he will be sure to pick your pocket. His words are smooth; his tongue is oily; his professions are fair; his offers appear to be generous — but his aim is to make you his dupe! Few detect him — until they are caught in his net! "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

There are the self-righteous. They appear very devout. They perform many duties. Their views of truth are, perhaps, tolerably sound. Their external deportment is correct. They are sure they are safe for Heaven; they wish everyone to think that they are right. They talk of Christ — but they do not rest alone on his finished work. They speak of the Holy Spirit — but they have never felt his regenerating and renewing operations. They boast of free grace — but in heart they think much more of their own performances. They imagine God must love them — because they love themselves. They conclude they must be saved — because if they have not made God their debtor — they have done much that on account, of which he cannot reject them.

Self-love is the root of their profession. Self-esteem is the ground of their confidence. They work for life, not from life. They are under the legal covenant, not the evangelical. They have never been stripped before God's throne. The law has never come home, in its convincing and condemning power, to their consciences. They have never had their mouths stopped, or been brought in guilty before God. Therefore they prefer their own sandy foundation — to the Rock of Ages! And they stumble at the stumbling stone, even Christ, who is the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption of his people. "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

There are the self-deceivers. These imagine that they are rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. They have elected themselves to everlasting life — and conclude, without any just grounds, that God has done so too. Because they have never thoroughly examined their hearts in the light of God's Law, or carefully compared what they call their experience, with the Biblical evidences of a new birth — they conclude that they are Christians — though they are still in their natural sinful condition.

They take home all the promises — and put from them all the threatenings. They make use of evidences for others — but see not the need of doing so for themselves. They take it for granted that they are right — but are laboring under a most fearful deception. They are in the state which Solomon refers to when he said, "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness!" (Proverbs 30:12). "These are those who make themselves rich — yet have nothing!" (Proverbs 13:7).
The blood of Christ is not at the root of their profession;
the life of God is not in their souls;
the power of the Holy Spirit has never been experienced in their hearts;
they deceive themselves — and they deceive others. "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

Reader, are you either of these characters? Are you sure that you are not? Search and look. Self-examination never injures a real Christian!

The power of SIN is great. And one of the most fearful things in sin is its power of self-concealment. It hides its own deformity from many — who are actually under its influence.

The subtlety of SATAN is great. He is said to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9). Suppose he should have deceived you! If you are acting under his influence — you have deceived yourself! Your sin may be hidden from men, it may be hidden from yourself — but it is not hidden from God! His eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. He searches the heart and tries the thoughts! He knows exactly what is your state — and it would be well for you to know it; for if it is bad — it may now be changed; or if it is good — you may rejoice and bless God for it.

The revealing day is coming; then if wrong, God will set our iniquities before his face, and our secret sins in the light of his countenance. He will expose every secret sinner. He will show to the whole world what you have been doing in the dark! Hear his own word, "For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil!" (Eccles. 12:14). The sins that are hidden now — will be hidden no longer! But then shall be brought to pass the fearful prediction written, "The sinners in Zion (God's professing people) shake with fear! Terror seizes the godless! Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14).

Fear now may drive us to the Savior — but there will then be no Savior to flee to! The Judge on the throne will act justly and impartially, and will render to every man according to his deeds. Many will be condemned — who expected to be acquitted! Many will be driven to Hell — who were sure of being invited to Heaven! Every false covering will then be stripped off, every deceitful heart will be laid bare — and no longer will anyone say, "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

But there is another and better sense in which our sins may be hidden, and that is, by obtaining the pardon of them. If we detect our sins, if we confess them before God, if we plead the blood and obedience of Jesus for their pardon — God will blot them out! He will cover them, so as to conceal them forever. Then we shall know what the Psalmist meant when he exclaimed, "Oh, the blessedness of the man whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Oh, the blessedness of the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit!" (Psalm 32:1,2).

When God forgives the penitent sinner, who stands before the throne of his grace, pleading the merits of his Son — he casts all his sins behind his back — or he throws them into the depths of the sea! They are thus covered, hidden, and concealed forever!

Let us, therefore, conceal our sins no longer; let us confess them before God, and obtain the pardon of them. Let us never profess before our fellow-men — what we do not really possess. Let us make our lives — the index of our hearts!

 

Knowledge Promised

"What I am doing you do not understand now; but you shall know hereafter." John 13:7

The Lord teaches us not only by His words — but by His works. He taught His disciples by what He did — as well as by what He said. He was now teaching them humility and love — and in order to do so, He condescended to wash their feet. Peter was amazed, and said, "Lord, are You going to wash my feet" He could not think of letting his Lord stoop to such menial employment in reference to himself. But he did not read his Lord's design — he could not see the deep and tender love of his Lord's heart. Jesus said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now; but you shall know hereafter." The present shall be explained in the future. Be satisfied to believe that I am acting wisely and kindly, and the whole shall be made plain bye-and-bye. Thus our Lord seems to speak to us at times. He requires faith now, and promises us clear knowledge hereafter. Observe.
 

First, the works of Jesus may for a time perplex us. He is the great worker in providence. His hand is everywhere working — though it is not everywhere seen. The hand of Jesus is in all that happens to us. Yes, in reference to our trials — we may say of Him with Hezekiah, "He Himself has done this!"

He strips us, just as He does the trees in autumn, when the sap sinks, and the foliage withers and falls.

He stripped Lot — and brought him out of Sodom poor and desolate!

He stripped Job — and left him for a time barren and leafless!

He stripped Naomi — and she who went out full, returned empty!

He has stripped many of His people — and laid them bare!

He disappoints us. Our expectations are raised by men, or by circumstances; we fondly believe that good and great things will result from a connection, or an undertaking. But our hopes and our expectations are blown away like leaves on a tree, when blasted by a strong wind! "You expected much — but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home — I blew away!" Haggai 1:9

He humbles us. Stripped and disappointed, at first we think He deals harshly with us. We complain of instruments, or events. Like the sons of Zeruiah — we looked only at Shimei cursing; not like David — at the Lord bidding Shimei to curse David (2 Samuel 16:10). This produces hard thoughts, rebellious feelings, and a murmuring spirit.

One weight is laid on after another, until the spirit bends and we lay prostrate in the dust. At length the Holy Spirit breathes upon us, our graces revive, our sight is cleared, and we are not only humbled by the force of external circumstances — but we are truly humble in soul, as the effect of His grace.

Providence, that is — Jesus by His providence, often deeply tries us, fills us with perplexity — and we become bewildered, then He whispers, "What I am doing you do not understand now; but you shall know hereafter."

Jesus is the great worker in grace, as in providence, and here His work at times is no less trying. Instead of, as we hoped — carrying on His work by comforting, assuring, and sensibly upholding us; He reveals to us more and more the foulness, depravity, and awful wickedness of our own hearts! Turn the eye inward, He says, "See what Israel does in the dark, every man in the room of his idols!" Again and again, He bids us turn, and at every turn we discover some fresh abomination, some unexpected lust, some foul principle at work!

He empties us of all our false hope, vain confidence, fleshly assurance, and supposed excellency! And the heart appears to be a wilderness, void, and barren. Every evidence at times is concealed, every grace appears withered — and only lust and corruption remains!

Thus He exercises us — and sharp indeed, at times, the exercise is! We never expected it. Perhaps we were not warned of it. Or if we heard others speak of it — we never thought that it would be so with ourselves. But thus He destroys spiritual pride — causes our graces to root in Himself and His Word — and brings us, not only to be willing to be saved by grace — but to see and feel that we can be saved in no other way — and bless Him from the depth of our souls for a gratuitous salvation!

Tried believer, tempted Christian, Jesus says to you, as He said to Peter, "What I am doing you do not understand now; but you shall know hereafter!" Observe,
 

Secondly, the promise of Jesus should encourage us. "We shall know hereafter." At present — He works in the dark, for the darkness and the light are both alike to Him. He has made no mistake in anything He has done. He has not caused us one needless pang — though we have caused ourselves many.

He works wisely and kindly — when He works invisibly. He assigns no reason for His actions. If we complain or repine — He seems to say to us, as to Job, "Should it be according to your mind?" This silences us, for we dare not say that it should. The time to assign His reasons to us — is not now; but now is the time He expect faith of us.

He often acts contrary to sense — and contrary to our carnal expectations. We had, perhaps, laid down a plan for Him to work by — and He goes just opposite to it!

He crosses our wills — to sanctify our minds and hearts!

He opposes our foolish schemes — to execute His own wise and gracious designs!

He promises to make all plain by-and-bye. The revealing day will come. It may soon be here, therefore let us patiently wait, and hopefully anticipate it. We shall then know the nature of what He does; and see that all is gracious, wise, and kind. We shall then know the needs be for all that He does — for all is necessary for our present good, or future welfare.

We shall know the design of what He does — that it was to humble us and prove us, to purify and perfect us; to exalt His own name, illustrate His own character, and glorify His Father's grace. We shall know and feel fully satisfied — for all difficulties will be completely cleared up. We shall know and be filled with admiration at the wisdom, perfection, and prudence of all He did! We shall know and praise Him for working it all, for working as He did — and for concealing the design He had in view while He was thus trying us!

Beloved, though we do not understand now — what Jesus is doing; we shall assuredly know hereafter! And this calls for PATIENCE — we must wait for His revealing, when all will be made clear to us. At present we have need of patience, we are required to have patience; and if we can have patience with anyone, surely we may with Jesus!

Can He do wrong? Impossible, for all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him!

Can He act unkindly? Impossible, for His heart is love, and the bruised reed He will not break, and the smoking flax He will not quench!

Can He make a mistake? Impossible, for He only fulfills the thing that is appointed for us, and many such things are with Him!

"We shall know hereafter!" This assurance calls for SUBMISSION; meek, uncomplaining, loving submission. There should be no complaining, no repining, no wishing — for our wishes spring from our ignorance, selfishness, or opposition to God.

This calls for FAITH — strong, steady, quiet faith — faith in His promises, which must all be made good, and are being fulfilled by our very trials and troubles! This calls for faith in His attributes and perfections, which are all combined and engaged, to secure our present and everlasting welfare. Faith in His presence — for He is with us when we see Him not, feel Him not, think not of Him. He is with us — to prevent evil. He is with us — to do us good. He is with us — to cause all, and everything to work together for our good.

It calls for SILENCE! Do not attempt an explanation at present — but be willing to leave it, and quietly wait until the Lord comes. His Word to us now is, "Be still — and know that I am God." His promise respecting the future is, "You shall know hereafter."

Let us then look through all — to Jesus! Let us amidst all — trust in Jesus! Let us notwithstanding all — expect from Jesus! And in the darkest hour, in the dreariest season, endeavor to say, "I will wait for the Lord who hides Himself!" Yes, "it is the glory of God to conceal a thing," and Jesus, your Jesus, is God. O blessed assurance, of a blessed Savior — that though I do not understand what He is doing, nor why He does it — at present; yet I shall know hereafter! Let me be satisfied, more than satisfied with it — for I shall bless and praise Him forever and ever — for His mysterious, wise, and kind dealings with me!

 

The Sure Resource!

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble!" Psalm 46:1
 

God intended Himself to be the great fountain of supply to His creatures. All are to be dependent on Him — and to look for their supplies from Him. Just so, the believer is to apply to God for all. Ample provision is made — but it is only in Jesus. Promises are given — but they are to be fulfilled by Jesus. He possesses all fullness, and as such He presents Himself to us as His needy dependent creatures — and says, "Look unto Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other!" Isaiah 45:22

This is the business of faith and prayer — to look to Jesus, and apply to Jesus for all that we need. Let us consider these words as spoken unto us every day — as calling us away from dependence on the creature, and as directing us how to act under all circumstances. It is Jesus who speaks. Jesus, as God. Jesus, as the Savior. Jesus, full of sympathy and power. Let us therefore listen to — and act upon His Word.

"Look unto Me — and be supplied. Whatever you need, either for body or soul — come to Me for it. I have the very blessing which you require. I am prepared to supply you with it, except it would be to your injury for Me to do so. You must leave Me to judge whether it will be for your good — and whether this is the best time for you to have it; but if it is — I will surely give it to you. Bring all your needs to Me, express all your desires before Me, exercise faith in Me — and your supplies are certain!"

Let us then leave off complaining, repining, and fretting; and let us look to Jesus for whatever we need, for all we need, and whenever we need. He is able to do more for us, than we are able to ask or think; and He loves to be applied to, for He rejoices to supply our needs.

"Look unto Me — and be strengthened." We are very weak and feeble — and we need much strength. We have . . . .
  crosses to carry,
  burdens to bear, and
  innumerable difficulties to overcome.

Our journey is long,
the way is rough,
and our faith is feeble.

But Jesus is the Strong One, who has all strength in Himself — and that strength He imparts to the weak, the weary, and the wavering, who put their trust in Him. By looking to Him, or exercising faith in Him — we find strength flow into our soul; and we become strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Absent from Jesus, or neglecting to exercise faith in Jesus — we are weak and faint, and are sure to be overcome. If therefore we would be strong to labor, or to fight the Lord's battles, or to travel our pilgrim way — we must keep the eye of faith fixed on Jesus, and seek our strength from Him.

"Look unto Me — and be comforted." We are poor comfortless things in ourselves — and we meet with much to cast us down and make us unhappy. We daily need daily comfort — as much as we need daily food. Jesus is the Comforter of those who are cast down. He comforts us with loving words, with holy communion with Himself, with sweet meditations, with holy foretastes of heaven. His presence is the joy of His people; and His presence will make them happy everywhere. Let us then, when our souls are cast down, when the springs of joy are low, when everything around and within us is depressing — look to Jesus, and He will comfort us with His love!

"Look unto Me — and be counseled." We often need advice, for we know not what to do, or which way to go. Friends cannot help us; our way appears to be hedged up, nor can we find our paths. We feel at times, that we would give anything if we only knew what to do — or which way to go. We are in deep perplexity, in profound distress. Now is the time to apply to, and prove the kindness of, the "Wonderful Counselor."

Jesus says, "Look unto Me — I will teach you and instruct you in the way which you shall go. I will counsel you, and My eye shall be upon you." Precious Savior! He loves to be consulted, nor will He allow any sincere and simple believer, to consult Him in vain. He knows our path — He will point out our way. He understands our difficulty — and will show us how to escape it!

"Look unto me — and be saved." Saved from every danger. Saved from every foe. Saved from sin — and all its penal consequences. Saved fully. Saved freely. Saved eternally. Jesus loves to save. He saves all who look to Him. Let us therefore look unto Him — in all times of danger, when assaulted by our foes, and when our own hearts mislead us. Let us look to Him all through our life.

And when called to face death and eternity — let us especially look unto Him. He will be with us in the dark valley — and whisper peace. He will go with us across the Jordan — and cheer our sinking hearts. He will guide us to the golden gates — and lead us up the glorious streets, and present us unto His Father!

O my soul, look to Jesus . . .
  whenever Satan assaults you,
  whenever foes beset you,
  whenever needs oppress you, and
  when death stares you in the face!

Look to Jesus for grace — and He will bestow it!

Look to Jesus for strength — and He will impart it!

Look to Jesus for comfort — and He will confer it!

Look to Jesus for counsel — and He will give it!

Look to Jesus for salvation — and He will confer it.

Look for all that He has promised, for all that you feel you need — and He will not deny you what is best for you.

Remember, ever remember, that Jesus is "a Sun and Shield; He will give grace and glory, and no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9

"He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield — in whom I take refuge!" Psalm 144:2

"Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge!" Psalm 16:1


 

Joseph's Dying Words

The words of the dying, are often striking and impressive. We remember them, and derive benefit from them. This has always been the case, especially with the saints of God. How affecting the dying sayings of Jacob, Moses, and David! How many have derived the richest blessings from them.

The words of the patriarch Joseph to his brethren, when he was dying, are so peaceful, so prophetic, so encouraging — that I feel inclined to meditate on them a little this morning. His sun was going down in a calm clear sky: all behind was mercy — all before was glory. His brethren are gathered around him to see him depart, and he said, "I am dying! But God shall surely visit you, and bring you out of this land, unto the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." Genesis 50:24.

"I am dying." Death is always solemn. It generally awakens painful reflections. It is often attended with the sweetest joys.

"I am dying," that is, I am about to leave . . .
the wilderness — for the promised land;
the strange country — for my pleasant home;
the field of conflict — for the abode of peace.

"I am dying," that is, I will soon . . .
heave my last sigh,
utter my last groan,
feel my last pain,
taste the cup of sorrow for the last time.

"I am dying," that is, I am about . . .
to depart to be with Christ,
to enjoy the glorious presence of God,
and to be one with all the glorified forever.

"I am dying," that is, I will soon bid an eternal farewell . . .
to all my doubts and fears,
to all my sins and sorrows,
to all my foes and follies, and
enter into peace, safety, and perfect holiness!

To me, as a believer in Jesus . . .
death
has no sting,
the grave has no terrors,
eternity
awakens no alarms!

My sins are pardoned, for his name's sake,
my soul is justified, by his blood, and
my person is in union with his.

To die is gain!

To die is to be perfectly holy and happy!

To die, is simply to go home to my Father's house — to inherit and inhabit the place that Jesus has prepared for me!

"I am dying," and shall I regret it? Shall I dread it? Oh, no, may the Lord give me grace, to hail my dying day with pleasure, and to rejoice in the thought of being absent from the body, and present with the Lord!

"God shall surely visit you." When I can visit my beloved Christian friends no more — God will. He visits all of his children, walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks.

His church is his garden, in which he takes his pleasant walks.

It is his city, in which he loves to dwell.

It is his family, with which he feels at home.

When his people meet, he meets with them, whether in public assemblies, or in the social circle.

He visits every individual Christian also.

To the babes — he shows tender care, and nurse-like kindness.

To the young men — he imparts strength and courage.

To the fathers — he opens his heart, and shows them the depths of his infinite love.

To the afflicted — he manifests sympathy.

To the tempted — he affords support.

And to the poor — he brings supplies.

He visits his children . . .
in the prayer-closet,
at the family altar, and
in the house of prayer.

He visits them as they sit around his table, and sing his praise.

He visits them in the valley of trouble — where they sigh and weep.

He visits them when oppressed — to support and set them free.

He visits them in sickness — to comfort and make their bed.

He visits them when they backslide — to restore them.

He visits them in the valley of the shadow of death — to conduct them safely through.

The Lord has visited me at times in the past — and, blessed be his name, he will surely visit me in the future. He will visit . . .
to sweeten every bitter cup,
to sanctify every trying dispensation, and
to enable me patiently to bear every cross.

He will visit, to bring me up out of this land — this land of trial and tribulation, this land of sins and sorrows. His last visit will be the sweetest, as introductory to his eternal presence and glory!

But he will visit in the use of the means of his own appointment. For however positive the promise — prayer and the use of means, are always supposed.

He will surely visit His children — but it may be to bereave. It may be to remove some idol. Or it may be, to strip me of something which encumbers and hinders me in my journey.

He will visit, and His visits will be in mercy — whether He comes . . .
to commend — or reprove;
to comfort — or grieve;
to give — or take away;
to clothe — or strip;
to fill the mouth with songs — or the eyes with tears!
Our prayers call for mercies, and our sins call for stripes — and He will surely answer our call.

Observe, his visits are sure, for he has promised — he is in one mind, and none can turn him. One love-visit is the pledge of many more. His visits on earth, ensure us his presence in Heaven.

My soul, has the Lord visited you of late? Has your Beloved manifested himself to you, and drawn out your love to himself? Has he drawn you to his mercy-seat? For your visits to him — are always the effect of his visits to you!

He visited me first! Indeed he has always been beforehand with me. Never would I have visited him on his throne of grace — if he had not first visited me in the open field, where I was lying in my blood, and perishing in my sin!

Blessed, forever blessed, be his holy name . . .
for every visit he has paid me,
for every loving look he has given to me,
for every sweet word he has spoken to me, and
for every blessing he has conferred upon me!

And now, O Lord, visit me often, stay with me long, and manifest yourself to me more fully, and more gloriously than you have ever done. In every ordinance of your house, in my private retirement, and when meeting with your people — Lord, visit my soul. Especially visit me when on the bed of sickness, and in the hour of death, when I am descending into the grave, that land of darkness and corruption! Then, then let me hear the voice of mercy saying, "God shall surely visit you, and bring you out of this land!"


 

HEAVEN! 

"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand!" Psalm 16:11

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined — what God has prepared for those who love him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

HEAVEN! What is it? It is — God's residence, the Savior's home, and our Father's house! It is a paradise of pleasure, a temple of worship, and the residence of perfect purity and peace! There, God unveils his glory, the Savior exhibits his charms, the angels perform their service, and the saints are entirely happy with their God. In Heaven — sin is banished, holiness is perfect, life is a continual feast, and mortality is swallowed up of life. From Heaven — all pain is banished, all enemies are excluded, and all causes of sorrow are shut out. In Heaven — all our prayers are answered, all our desires are gratified, and all our needs are supplied. There is no weeping, wailing, or wishing there. The sun never sets; Spring is no longer followed by Winter; nor is youth followed by old age. In Heaven — our knowledge will be perfect, our happiness abiding, and our pleasures ever new. In Heaven — we shall see Jesus, be with Jesus, and be like Jesus, forever!

HEAVEN! Who are there?
All tried and tempted followers of Jesus are there.
All doubting and fearing disciples of Jesus are there.
All poor and despised believers are there.
Multitudes, who felt totally unworthy of such glory, and feared they would never reach the place — are there.

All who were chosen by the Father, all who were redeemed by the Son, and all who were sanctified by the Holy Spirit — are there. All who ever sought the Lord in sincerity, fled to Jesus for salvation, and ventured on his blood and obedience alone — are there. Myriads, collected from all times, all places, and all circumstances — are there. Some of all ages, and classes, and characters — are there. In one word, the excellent of the earth are there, the angelic hosts are there, and God, Father, Son, and Spirit, are there. O glorious place! O happy people! O blissful employment! May I find a place there, form part of that vast number, and take part in that holy worship forever!

HEAVEN! What do they enjoy there? Who can answer this question — but one who has been there; and he would need a new language to state, and new figures to represent the enjoyments of Heaven. But they enjoy rest from their pains — and a full supply of all their needs. They enjoy perfect satisfaction, a fullness of joy, and pleasure forevermore. They see all that they believed, realize all that they hoped for, and possess all that they loved. They have health — without sickness; pleasure — without pain, and holiness — without sin. Every sense is gratified, every power is pleasurably employed — and they have the full persuasion that it will be so forever.

Now, they love God as they desired, enjoy Jesus as they longed to do, and possess the certainty they sighed for. They are perfectly and perpetually happy!

Who can tell, what the ransomed and sanctified soul is capable of enjoying? But their enjoyments reach the measure of their capacities. O Heaven, in you there is no tempting devil, no ensnaring world, no indwelling corruption; no doubts, fears, or misgivings! And best of all, there is no sin!

O Heaven, in you I shall see my God, possess my Savior, and enjoy the fullness of the Holy Spirit! O Heaven, in you I shall be with angels and saints, with cherubim and seraphim! O my God, in Heaven I shall be satisfied — for I shall be with you, serving and enjoying you without weariness or cessation!

HEAVEN! Who will yet get to Heaven? Who? Ah, perhaps many we little think of! We shall miss many whom we expected to find there — and find many whom we never expected would reach that glorious place!

Who will go to Heaven? That poor man who is striving against sin, mourning over corruption, and loathing himself before God. That poor woman, who sighs because she sins, pants for perfect holiness, and clings to the cross of Jesus. Do you see that poor soul on his knees, confessing his transgressions, pleading for pardon, and seeking grace to sanctify his nature — he will go to Heaven. Do you see that lowly Christian, who is visiting the sick, pointing sufferers to the cross, and trying to alleviate human woe, out of love to Jesus — he will go to Heaven. Do you see that Sunday School teacher, who, after a hard week's work, is regularly in his class, speaking loving words, in tender tones, to win the little ones for the Savior — he will go to Heaven. Do you see that preacher who exalts Christ in his ministry, honors the gospel in his life, and travails in birth for souls — he will go to Heaven.

Heaven will be peopled by all who believe in Jesus, love the brethren, and worship God in Spirit and in truth. There will be a numberless multitude there, all deeply indebted to free mercy, washed in the Savior's blood, and sanctified by the Spirit's grace.

HEAVEN! How may we make sure of getting there? By faith in Jesus — for he who believes shall be saved. By repentance, confession of sin, and holiness of life — for he who confesses and forsakes his sins shall find mercy. By surrendering to Christ, consecrating ourselves to Christ, and devoting all to the service and praise of Christ.

To entitle us to Heaven — we must have a saving interest in the perfect work of Christ. To qualify or fit us for Heaven — we must be born again, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Without faith in Christ — we have no title to Heaven; and without a new birth — we have no fitness for Heaven. Let us then make sure of these two things, that we believe in Jesus with the heart, and that we are born again by the Spirit of God — and so we make sure of going to Heaven.

Reader, there is a Heaven, a most glorious Heaven — do you believe this? There is a way — but only one way to Heaven — do you perceive this? Only those found in the way will ever reach it — do you realize this? You may be within an hour or two of either Heaven or Hell — do you know which? If called away suddenly — to which would you go? To one or the other you must go — for there is no intermediate place. It is of the greatest consequence to you, that you should know. Ought you not to be certain? Can you be certain too soon? You have a Heaven to obtain, or a Hell to endure — to all eternity! Which shall it be? O that you were wise, that you properly realized this, that you would consider your latter end!

Heaven with all its glories — or Hell with all its horrors — must be your eternal portion, and all depends upon the present. If you seek the Lord, if you believe in Jesus, if you forsake sin, if you follow after holiness, if your one aim is to glorify God — then Heaven is yours. But if you live after the flesh, in the indulgence of its appetites and propensities; if you despise the Savior, make light of the Gospel, and neglect God's great salvation — then Hell, an eternal Hell, with all its unspeakable horrors, is your portion!

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:46
 

HELL!

"The rich man also died and was buried. In Hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him: Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire!" Luke 16:22-24

HELL! What is it? It is God's great prison, where His criminals are confined. It is the place of punishment — where the wages of sin are paid. It is the house of despair, the residence of desperation, the dwelling-place of the worm that never dies. It is called the lake of fire, burning with brimstone. It is a place of terrible torture, dreadful agony, and soul-racking remorse. Hope never enters there. Repose is never enjoyed there. Light never shines there. But all is pain, gloom, restless agony, and indescribable torment! There is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth — forever!

HELL! Who are there? The rich man, at whose gate Lazarus lay, is there. Judas, who betrayed Jesus, is there. Cain, who slew his brother, is there. Demas, who preferred the world to Christ, is there. The covetous and thieves are there! The immoral and liars are there! The proud and vain are there! All who made light of the Gospel are there! All who neglected the great salvation are there! All who worshiped the Roman beast are there! And they are all "tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb! The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever — and they have no rest day nor night!"

Many perhaps whom you have known are there! Some of our relations even may be there! Old friends of ours may be there. Some who lived in the same street, met in the same place of worship, and whom we once hoped to meet in Heaven — are there!

Who are there? Why, we were nearly there ourselves! We lay at the entrance of Hell! We were within a few inches of Hell! A slight accident, a stroke, or a disease — would have sent us there. Yes — but for free and sovereign grace — WE would have been in Hell!

"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life!" Revelation 21:27

"Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying!" Revelation 22:15

HELL! What do they suffer there? No tongue can tell. No pen can write; no heart can conceive — what lost souls suffer in Hell! Who can tell what the unmixed wrath, the fiery indignation, the endless curse of Almighty God is? Who can set forth what sin deserves, and what is the obstinate sinner's due?

They weep, they wail, they gnash their teeth. They are tormented in eternal flames. In every member of the body, in every power of the soul — the lost in Hell will suffer. Memory, conscience, and the imagination — will especially increase their agonies! And hopeless despair will render their doom indescribably dreadful!

What do they suffer in Hell? Tell! O tell me — what God can justly inflict, what an immortal man can bear, what the threatenings of the violated law require, and how devils can add to the torments of lost souls — and I will tell you what they may suffer in Hell!

But, O! may you never know in your own experience what lost souls have to endure, and endure forever! Could we but lift the veil that conceals that awful place from our view, and see but for five minutes the agonies of those in Hell — we would never forget the sight! Our flesh would tremble, our hair would stand up on our heads, and our souls would be paralyzed with horror!

HELL! Who will yet go to Hell? Who? Perhaps the reader of these lines! Who? ah, perhaps many of whom we have now no suspicion! Will any of our children go there? Will any of our brothers or sisters go there? Will any of the members of the church go there? Will any of this congregation go there?

Who will go there? All liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with brimstone and fire. All swearers, all drunkards — will find a place set apart in Hell for them. All immoral people; all covetous and dishonest people — all will find a place in Hell prepared for them.

Who will go to Hell? All who live and die impenitent; "for unless you repent — you shall all likewise perish!" All unbelievers; for "he who believes not, shall be damned!" All who are in their natural state; for "unless a man is born again — he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Without faith in Christ, and repentance toward God; without love to God and man, the proof and evidence of the new birth; without union to Christ, and the possession of the Spirit of Christ — there is no escaping the wrath to come — the person must go to Hell! O solemn consideration! Let a man therefore examine himself, whether he is in the faith; let each man and woman prove their own selves, and see if Christ is in them.

HELL! How may we escape it? Only by fleeing to Jesus, by believing in Jesus, and receiving the Spirit of Jesus. No one can save us but Jesus, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we can be saved. Jesus has done all that is necessary to save souls from Hell, and he is ready to put on our account — what he has done to us; whenever we go to him, plead with him, trust in him, and commit our souls to him. We need not go to Hell, for Jesus is both able and willing to save us; and yet we must go to Hell, unless we apply to him, to be saved by him.

As therefore Hell is so dreadful; as the punishments of Hell are eternal; as once lost, we are lost irrecoverably — as no one can save us but Jesus — and as Jesus will only save those who make personal application to him — let us at once, with all our hearts and souls, apply to Christ! "Behold! now is the accepted time. Behold! now is the day of salvation." Let us then "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon!" Isaiah 55:6-7
 

 

One Hour After Death!

The news of the unexpected death of a dear friend has suggested this thought. He is gone. He is in another world.

I too, must die soon. It may be very soon. Let me, then, think of death, and of the hour after death. If I die among friends, my eyes will then be closed, my body will be laid out, the white sheet will cover it, and in the quiet chamber it will be left. It is now unconscious, inanimate, a mere mass of matter. It must soon be conveyed to the grave, and there be hidden from the sight of man, or it will become offensive. Yes, the nearest relative, the one who loved me most, will say, "Bury my dead out of my sight!" But the soul, the immortal part, the real man — what has become of him?
 

One hour after death, WHERE shall I be?

Ah, where! That will entirely depend upon what I am now — what death finds me. Like Judas, each one will go to his own place. Where shall I be?

I may be in Hell, lifting up my eyes in torments, grasping for someone or something to comfort me. Dreadful supposition! But it is not impossible. If I die under the guilt of sin; if I die without having experienced a new birth; it is certain. For unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Awful thought — to be in Hell one hour after death! Then no prayers will avail, no sufferings will excite pity, nor cries or tears will be regarded. Hope will be forever shut out. Agony and despair must be endured perpetually.

But if I die a believer in Jesus; if cleansed in his blood; if clothed in his righteousness; if sanctified by his Spirit; if united to his person — then where shall I be one hour after death? Oh, glorious thought — I shall be with Jesus! Yes, I shall hear his sweet voice, see his lovely face, and stand before his glorious throne! I shall be in heaven; the home of the saints; the house of the living God — the region of holiness, happiness, and love. I shall know what Heaven is. I shall realize what perfect holiness means. I shall have lost every wish — and be in possession of all I could desire. Oh, to be with Jesus; to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God; to enjoy the company of prophets, apostles, martyrs, and holy ministers forever! What a noble place I shall be in! What glorious company I shall have! What ecstatic joys I shall taste! Oh, what a change I shall experience!  

One hour after death, WHAT shall I be?

I shall be a pure and holy spirit, no longer, fettered, imprisoned, hindered, and pained by a body of flesh, or a body of sin and death. I shall be a son of God, realizing my relationship — at home with my Father; surrounded with myriads of my brothers and sisters, all perfectly holy, and perfectly happy. I shall be a saint, fully sanctified, and made fit for my Master's use. To doubt my election, or question my calling, or suspect my sincerity, will be impossible. I shall be as holy as my Father is holy. I shall be as perfect, as my Savior is perfect. I shall be without fault before the throne of God.

Oh, wondrous mystery, that one like me, so full of faults, so deeply depraved, so dreadfully polluted — should be pronounced faultless by the Judge of all!

But if I should die out of Christ, without repentance, without holiness — then what shall I be? Ah, what! A soul lost! A ruined sinner! Condemned to suffer God's just wrath, the bitter reflections of my own mind, the fearful lashings of my own conscience — forever! Self-condemned; condemned by all around me; a spectacle of misery; a monument of God's justice; a terrified witness to God's holiness and truth. Ah, then I shall know the meaning of those terrible words, "Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, fire, brimstone, and a horrible tempest." Then I shall experience what is meant by being "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone," and shall feel all the unknown horrors of the "second death."

What a fearful thing must sin, my sin, be — to demand such tremendous punishment at the hands of a just God; to call for such a terrible infliction from a God who is emphatically love! Oh, the thought, that I should be a lost soul, a companion of devils and damned immortals! 

One hour after death, How shall I be EMPLOYED?

How am I employed now? Is Jesus my Master, his service my delight, and his glory my end? If I now live for God, walk with God, and work in order to please God — then I may expect to be employed in praising his name, admiring his love, and adoring his glorious perfections. My employment will be my pleasure, and my service my joy. I shall stand among the ransomed, walk with Jesus in white, and praise his name on my golden harp forever!

No wandering thoughts,
no roving imagination,
no tempting devil,
no corrupt heart,
no unhallowed associations —
will interrupt, disturb, or hinder me in my services there. No, all will be as pure as the light, as peaceful as the bosom of God, and as happy as the presence of God and the Lamb can make it!

But if Satan is my master, if his service suits my taste, and if self-gratification is my end — then my employment will be dismal, dreadful, unspeakably painful! What can I do but inflict torment on myself, and increase the torment of others — but hate myself, and everyone that suffers with me? The mind will be always active; but every exercise of the mind will but add to the weight of woe already experienced. Every thought of God, of his justice or his mercy — will be another bitter drop in the cup of suffering. Every thought of the past will only aggravate the agonies of the present. But to look forward will be worst of all. What is before? ETERNITY! Duration without termination. Existence without change for the better. A fearful "forever." The death-knell of hope is sounded. The endless reign of despair has commenced. Time is ended. All through the future, God's judgments must be endured, his threatenings will be fulfilling. How dreadful my employment may be! 

One hour after death, What will be my FEELINGS?

If Heaven is gained; if endless happiness is secured; if the approbation of God is realized; if the assurance of unchangeable blessedness is enjoyed — what will be my feelings? What joy, what gratitude, what peace, what holy exultation! No tongue can speak, no pen can write, no language can describe — the feelings of the happy spirit.

The sight of Jesus, the songs of saints, the unveiled glories of God — what, oh, what feelings will these produce! The absence of pain, freedom from sin, full victory over Satan, the full realization of all our highest and holiest desires — what feelings will these produce! But we must die, to fully know what our feelings of gratitude, joy, and love will be — one hour after death.

But if Heaven is lost, if Hell is my doom, if everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord is my portion — what, oh, what will my feelings be! What bitter remorse! What agonizing reflections! What terrible apprehensions! What hopeless despair! What awful sufferings! But we must die — die under the curse of God, die rejecting the gospel, die unpardoned — in order to know what will be the feelings of a lost soul — one hour after death!

How many of my readers will die in this state? How many will risk the possibility of dying so — by living in sin, by neglecting their souls, by presuming on God's mercy, or by hardening themselves in sin?  

One hour after death, How shall I THINK?

How differently we shall think of money, pleasure, the indulgence of our lusts, all that we now call great, grand, and desirable — one hour after death! Let us endeavor to think now — as it is probable we shall think then!

Let us place ourselves in Heaven — and try to think there!

Let us place ourselves in Hell — and try to think there!

How different will things then appear!

Let us instantly, heartily, importunately, seek a title to Heaven, and a fitness for it, nor rest until we possess them!

 

The Threatenings of God

"What will you say when He punishes you?" Jeremiah 13:21

God has threatened to punish lost sinners — every sinner who lives and dies in unbelief.

His threatenings are written in His Word — that we may read them;
they are published by His ministers — that we may hear them;
they are often repeated — that we may not forget them;
some of them are fulfilled in this world — that we may believe and fear them.

No unbelieving, impenitent, careless sinner shall escape! The whole of the wicked shall be turned into Hell — and all the nations that forget God.

Every one will be punished justly — in exact proportion to the nature and number of his sins.

Every one will be punished universally — in every part of body and soul.

Every one will be punished fearfully — without any mixture of mercy.

Every one will be punished eternally — without cessation or end.

The threatenings of God are backed, and sustained . . .
by His omnipotent power;
by His unchangeable purpose;
by His impartial justice;
by His inflexible holiness;
and by His solemn oath.

They cannot be more sure, nor can they be more dreadful. Lost sinner, they are all pointed at you! They mean you. They speak . . .
of snares,
of fire and brimstone,
of a never-dying worm,
of a lake of fire,
of blackness and darkness,
of gnashing of teeth, and
of eternal separation from God.

Punishment is in store for you! You are warned of it, and invited to escape from it! But if you do not, then "What will you say when He punishes you?"

Can you plead ignorance, and say that you did not know that sin and punishment are connected — that God had solemnly threatened such as you in His Word? You cannot — you have been warned, and now you are warned again. You are warned in time — that you may be safe and happy in eternity!

Can you say that you never heard of a way of escape? No, for Jesus has been set before you, and you have been invited and exhorted to flee to Him and find safety.

Can you say that you did not believe that God would be true to His Word? This were to insult Him to His face, and to tell Him plainly that you thought Him to be a liar!

Will you say you intended to repent — but Satan deceived you? This will but be an acknowledgment, that you gave more heed to Satan than to God!

But what will you say? What can you say? Suppose you were this moment summoned to appear before God, and He was to ask the question to you, "Sinner, what have you to say, what reason can you assign — that I should not punish you, as I have threatened in my Word?" Would you not be speechless?

Consider the importance of being prepared with an answer, against the time when it shall be demanded. Seriously think over the matter. Prepare your answer quickly, and endeavor to prepare such a one . . .

as will satisfy your conscience;
as will ease your torment;
as will confound Satan when he accuses you;
and appease the wrath of God.

Can you find such an answer? If not, there is but one alternative; you must make up your mind to suffer the torments of quenchless flames forever — or flee to the Lord Jesus Christ for life and salvation! He is the only way of escape — there is salvation in no other. There is pardon in His blood. There is mercy at His throne. There is pity in His heart. There is veracity in His Word. There is hope for you. Flee to Him — and you are safe. Reject Him, persevere in sin, prefer the world — and you must forever be lashed by an accusing conscience, be tormented by a cruel and remorseless devil, be punished by a just and holy God, and condemn yourself throughout eternity!

What will you say to this? Can you say it is not just? You will be convinced it is. Can you harden yourself in Hell? Suffering will increase with every attempt. Will you flee? Ah, where can you flee! All existences will be opposed to you, and armed against you; while every alleviation of your sufferings will flee away forever!
 

 

The Alarm and Inquiry!

"The sinners in Zion are terrified! Trembling grips the godless! Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isaiah 33:14

These 'sinners in Zion' represent the Church of God. The inhabitants of Zion were professors of religion. Likewise, many profess the Christian religion — who are not really Christians. They are strangers to the new birth. They have never passed from death unto life. Their opinions perhaps are changed — but their hearts remain just as they were. Their lives may be moral — but their hearts are not spiritual. They are enemies to God — though they profess to be his friends. They are rebels against the government of Jesus — while they profess to be his loyal subjects.

They are sinners in the most solemn place — and under peculiarly aggravating circumstances! Surrounded with gospel light — they go on in darkness. Commending the Savior with their lips — they withhold from him the heart. By professing Christ — they cry, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" But by living in sin — they cry, "Crucify him, crucify him!" They are not struggling with sin — but sternly attached to sin! It is not weakness which is the cause of their conduct — but wickedness. They are hypocrites — that is, they wear a mask. They pretend to be what they well know they are not. With their mouths they show much love to Christ — but their hearts go after their lusts!

Reader, it is a dreadful thing . . .
to be a hypocrite;
to be found among the Lord's people, while not really of them;
to profess Christ, and not to possess Christ!

You may deceive men — but you cannot deceive God. A mere profession may do when in health and strength — but it will not do for sickness and death. You may be bold and fearless now — but when God shall unmask you, and expose the nakedness of your soul — then you will be afraid, fearfulness and trembling will seize upon you suddenly. If you are indulging in any known sin, under a profession of religion — you are a 'sinner in Zion' — and your state is most dangerous!

The time is coming, when the 'sinners in Zion' shall be afraid. God has threatened them. He has threatened them with his sorest judgments. He is true and faithful to his word. His nature is unchangeable. You may change — but he cannot. His wrath is eternal — for it is his just displeasure against sin, it is his righteous opposition to the sinner. He hates all sin. But he especially hates deception. Hypocrisy is odious in his sight. He has pronounced the most dreadful woes against all such. They will not find any mercy at his hands — if they persevere in their hypocrisy.

They are generally afraid of trials — but how will they meet death? And if they are afraid of death, how will they stand in the judgment? How will they be able to lift up their faces before him, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, who has been witness to all their hypocrisy, and who hates all the workers of iniquity!

Hypocrites are generally bold, conceited, confident, and daring — while things go smooth with them; but fearfulness will surprise them — -when death seizes upon them, or God calls them to appear before him in judgment. The Lord Jesus is coming. He is coming in power and great glory. He is coming to judge the world in righteousness. He is coming to render to every man according to his works. In the prospect of that day he proposes the most solemn QUESTIONS:

"Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?" The element of fire is opposed to our nature. It inflicts the most dreadful pains. It is used by the Lord to represent the punishment that is to be inflicted upon all ungodly people. It is not merely fire — but consuming fire. Fire in its strength. Fire raging as it does when well fed with fuel. O how dreadful to be tormented in that flame! To be surrounded by that fierce, scorching, destructive element! Sinner! think of devouring fire, a lake of devouring fire — it is the due desert of your sins!

"Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" Then, there are everlasting burnings! There is a fire that never shall be quenched! There are torments that shall never, never, never end! Yes, while God lives to punish, while the cause of punishment remains — the sinner must be punished! The torments of Hell will not purify. The lost are never sanctified by their sufferings in Hell. They will sin yet more and more — and justice requires that punishment should continue to be inflicted.

Impenitent sinners are to dwell with everlasting burnings. Hell is to be their unchangeable residence, their eternal portion. O what a dwelling! What a doom! What a destiny! And yet it is just — strictly just!

Let us then press home the question upon our consciences: "Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" Can a question be more solemn? Is it not necessary? Ought it not to alarm us? Can we be justified in postponing the consideration of it, even for one hour? For one moment?

My reader, are you a mere professor? Are you surrounded by such? God directs you to put the question to your own conscience, and to your fellows, "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" Ah! What if you should! What if your profession should end in this doom! What if your hope should prove like the spider's web? What if while you cry, "Peace and safety!" — that sudden destruction should come upon you? It may! It is possible. Is it probable? Search and look. Examine your heart. Examine impartially. Examine thoroughly. A mistake here is fearful, it is fatal, it may be irremediable.

Deceitful and deceiving professor — ponder these solemn questions. They are especially addressed to you. Every false covering will soon be stripped off. Your heart and your life will be laid bare — by the holy, sin-hating, sin-punishing God! We must sound the alarm! We would alarm you to prevent your ruin! We would be faithful — that you may be saved. Take heed that you do not eternally perish! Take heed that you do not persevere in hypocrisy — until it is too late. Do not even dream of redemption from the devouring fire, when once in it — or of the everlasting burnings being quenched! That is the greatest folly. It is an invention of the father of lies, to deceive your souls, and secure your damnation!

Now, you are under the reign of mercy; now, you are within sight of the cross; now, while the gospel invites you — confess your folly, deplore your criminality, sue for pardon, seek for sanctifying grace, and escape, escape, escape from the devouring fire! Flee, flee, flee from the everlasting burnings!!! But if you persevere in sin, if you continue to practice hypocrisy, I solemnly warn you, that you shall surely perish! Hell will be opened to meet you at your death, the fierce flames of damnation will curl around you, the doors of the horrid prison of despair will close upon you — and you will be lost, lost, lost forever!

Your destruction will be your own act and deed — the effect of the course you have chosen, of the line of conduct you have pursued. Repent then and turn to God, so your iniquity shall not be your ruin. For, if you do not repent — it surely will. It deserves Hell. It demands punishment. It appeals to the justice of God, and its appeal will be regarded. A just God must punish the impenitent sinner. Hear then, the warning voice! Flee from the wrath to come. Hasten and escape from the consuming fire — from the everlasting burnings! Flee, flee for refuge, and lay hold of the hope set before you in the gospel. Life and death are set before you, therefore choose life that you may live — live and be happy forever!
 

 

The Lost Soul's Request!

We know comparatively little of the unseen world. We do know that there is a Heaven of joy and peace for the saved sinner — and there is a place of sorrow and suffering for the lost sinner.

Our Lord in one of his parables, sets before us . . .
the suffering life, happy death, and glorious state in Heaven — of a poor believer;
and the mirthful life, death, and awful state of suffering in Hell — of a wealthy sinner.

"In Hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment!" He sought a little alleviation of his sufferings — but was denied the least. Being directed to remember how he had lived on earth — he thought of his former honor, and the state of those whom he had left behind him, he answered: "Then I beg you, father Abraham — send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment!" Luke 16:27, 28. Observe,

The Object of the Rich Man's Solicitude: his "five brothers." They were perhaps younger than himself, though it is probable that he was comparatively young.

They were still in the land of hope — and he was in the dismal region of despair.

They were still under the reign of mercy — and he was under the iron rod of justice.

He feared for them — for he knew in what state he had left them! He feared for them — lest they should persevere in sin, and at length come to the same place of torment! He most ardently desired their salvation, and that they might escape the sure wrath that is coming. He despaired of their salvation by ordinary means, and therefore he petitioned that Lazarus may be sent, that he might testify to them.

Ah, if we realized what Hell is, and sympathized with sinners as we ought to do — we would be prepared to make use of any means, and of all means, in order, if possible — to prevent souls going there! It is very strange, that professing to believe the Bible representations of Hell, the certainty of every unconverted sinner going there, and that conversion is effected by the use of means which are in our power — that we use them so little, or so feebly.

Look at this lost soul in Hell — he remembers his brethren, and, appealing to Abraham, gives expression to:

The Rich Man's Ardent Desire:
"Send Lazarus to my brothers! Lazarus is no longer a poor, ulcerated beggar — he will make a fit and suitable preacher! They know he is dead. They will be greatly affected by his appearance among them, and by the change that has taken place in him. O, send Lazarus, and let him bear testimony to the reality of this place of torment — to the certainty of all impenitent sinners coming here, however rich or distinguished they were on earth. Let Lazarus testify as to the nature of this place of torment, and tell them that their poor brother is in flames, tormenting flames, inextinguishable flames! Tell them that I am denied one solitary drop of water, or anything which will in any way alleviate my dreadful sufferings! Let him assure them . . .
that Hell is real,
that the punishment is most intense,
that the sufferers are immortal,
that annihilation is a fiction, and
that deliverance from this fearful agony is impossible!

Let, O let him tell them, that once here, they are here forever! Forever! Forever!

And, O let him warn them of the folly, the madness, of neglecting the soul and its salvation. Let him testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment! It is possible. It is probable. It is certain — if they live and die in sin as I did!"

That poor wretch dreaded their coming there, for if anything could add to his torments — it would be to see his own brothers under the same condemnation, in the same horrid place of punishment! He also dreaded it, as most probably by his own example, and by his influence — he had hardened them in sin, and encouraged them in their ungodly course. It would therefore be an aggravation of his woe, and cause the flame that tormented him to blaze more fiercely — to see their eternal sufferings as his own fault!

It must be dreadful — to be the cause or the occasion of another's soul being lost forever, and to have the sufferings of that soul constantly before our eyes!

Is it not a striking thought — that lost sinners, while suffering the torments of Hell — sympathize with living relations, which they have left behind them on earth?

O what a terrible thing, the exercise of a strong memory in Hell must be!

Those who now suffer the torments of the damned, are represented as desiring the salvation of their relatives on earth, and that they may be saved at any expense — saved, cost what it may. Does not this concern of the damned — condemn the conduct of many careless, indifferent, idle, and worldly-minded professors? Does it not say, that in this particular, the conduct of professors is worse than that of the damned in Hell? What a terrible thought it is, that any of us should be more unfeeling about the spiritual state, and eternal destiny of our relatives, friends, or neighbors — than lost souls are. Is it, can it be, that we have harder hearts, or more thoughtless souls — than lost spirits have?

Brethren, brethren, how active, how eager, how untiring we should be, in testifying to sinners — in praying for sinners — in pleading with sinners — and in endeavoring in every possible way to prevent them from going to that place of torment!

Reader! How is it with you? Inquire, inquire diligently, I beseech you! Is there any, even the most remote probability of your being sent into that place of torment? Think . . .
of being tormented in flames of fire,
of being tormented without the least alleviation,
and of being so tormented forever and ever!

Think of going directly from the bright land of hope — to the dismal regions of despair!

Think of going from a land of light, of Bibles, of the means of grace — to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire!

Is not the thought dreadful!

If Hell was to be the doom of your greatest enemy — would you not try to prevent it? What if it should be the doom of your brothers, your sisters, your husband, your wife, your father, your mother! Can you admit the possibility, without being determined to leave no means unused, which would be likely to prevent so fearful a calamity?

But what if Hell should be the destiny of your own soul? What if it should! It will be your certain doom — if you die unconverted. Perhaps there are some now in Hell, once related to you — who are now concerned for you. Are you as much concerned for yourself?

Christian! Have you not some dear ones on the road to Hell — for whom you should be especially concerned? If so, act the Christian on their behalf, and act so at once, persevering until they are saved!
 

 

SANCTIFICATION

That man has fallen from God, and is consequently depraved and polluted, is a fact so clearly revealed in God's Word, and so evidently proved by his general conduct — that it cannot be denied, or even doubted by anyone who believes the inspiration of the Scriptures, or attends to what is passing around him. That in this state, man is totally unfit to enter heaven, or enjoy the presence of God on earth — is equally clear. Man has forfeited all right to happiness, and is destitute of all fitness for glory. He is a rebel up in arms against God — a sinful and polluted creature! His unfitness for heaven is radical, for he is entirely depraved, and the very core of his life is a fountain of impurity — for from within, out of the heart, proceeds all that is vile, debasing, and offensive to God — and only such evil things. Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is evil, only evil — evil from his youth — evil continually, Genesis 6:5; 8:21.

He is, in a word, just the opposite of what God made him; when he came out of the hand of his Maker . . .
he was holy — he is now depraved;
he was light — he is now darkness;
he was strong — he is now weakness;
he was love — he is now enmity against God;
he was in union with God — he is now separated from him;
he was pure — he is now dead in trespasses and sins!

O! fearful state! O! awful condition!

But is this the state of all people? It is! Of every one! Are there no exceptions? There are none! "For all are gone out of the way, they are together become filthy!" "There is none that does good — no, not one!" Psalm 14:1-3. Romans 3:10-18.

Then man's state by nature is really fearful, for he is . . .
God's enemy,
Satan's slave,
sin's representative,
the world's vassal,
and fit fuel for everlasting burnings.

Then heaven is closed against him, for "there shall never enter into it, anything that defiles;" and "without holiness no one shall see the Lord," Rev. 21:27; Hebrews 12:14.

Then there is no hope. Not from the law — or on the ground of anything a fallen creature can do; but there is hope in the gospel — on the ground of free and sovereign grace. God has devised and revealed a way by which . . .
sin can be pardoned,
the ungodly can be justified, and
the depraved and polluted can be sanctified.

He has set forth the Lord Jesus, that by him, whoever believes in him should not perish — but have everlasting life. He has graciously promised his Holy Spirit to those who ask him; and declared further, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you, and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws!" Ezekiel 36:26, 27. A man may be born again, or created anew in Christ Jesus; and except a man is born again — he can neither see, nor enter into the kingdom of God, John 3:3, 5.

This naturally leads us to the notice of our subject, which is SANCTIFICATION. By sanctification, is intended a separation from that which is evil, and being set apart for that which is good. It is not a change of place, circumstances, or state; but a change of nature. It has its origin in the gracious purpose of God, it is the fruit of his good pleasure, for it is his sovereignty that God sanctifies.

The saints are all sanctified by God the Father — that is, set apart to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and made fit for heaven by the influence and operations of the Holy Spirit; chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, Jude 1; 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

Sanctification flows from connection with our Lord Jesus Christ, who, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate, Hebrews 13:12. He, the sanctifying Head, sanctifies all of his members; and, together, they form one holy family, so that he is "not ashamed to call them brethren," Hebrews 2:11. He is made sanctification unto all who are in union with himself, 1 Corinthians 1:30.

But our personal and experimental sanctification, is produced only by the indwelling and operations of the Holy Spirit; and consists in our consecration to God and his service. It is the life of God in the soul. A new creation. A divine nature imparted. A resurrection from the dead. A new heart is given, a tender heart of flesh. The soul is melted in the fire of divine love, and molded afresh by the truth. Old things pass away, and all things become new.

The understanding is illuminated,
the conscience is quickened and cleansed,
the affections are spiritualized and elevated, and
the will is directed into a new channel, so that it chooses the things which are most excellent.

The work begins with the washing of regeneration, in which the soul passes from death to life; and is carried on by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, which continues to quicken and sustain it, Titus 3:5. The sanctified person is . . .
washed from the filth of sin,
cleansed from the guilt of sin,
and becomes devoted unto God.

The new nature which is imparted produces new sensations — from which flow, new desires, new fears, and new hopes. New motives influence the conduct, and new objects engage the attention.

The nature of SIN is discovered and hated,
the practice of sin is deplored and avoided,
the consequences of sin are feared,
and full salvation from sin is sought.

The ways of the Lord appear pleasant,
the time and talents are employed in his service,
the Bible becomes the daily companion,
the saints appear the excellent of the earth, and
the ordinances of the gospel yield profit and pleasure.

Jesus is now . . .
the object of faith,
the subject of meditation,
and appears altogether lovely.

No sanctified person ever thinks lightly either of sin or the Savior; but
the heart rests on his atonement,
the tongue pleads his name,
the soul thirsts for his grace, and
the whole person seeks shelter and safety in his perfect righteousness.
He is now trusted, loved, and obeyed. He is all in all.

The sanctified man generally enjoys prayer; but he feels that he must pray when he does not; for prayer is . . .
the vital breath of his soul,
the vent of his sorrows,
the expression of his desires,
and the utterance of his feelings.

He daily . . .
feels more and more his need of Jesus,
observes his numerous defects,
grieves over his departures from God,
repents of every sin, and
longs to be exactly like his dear Redeemer.

He often mourns because he sins against a God so gracious — and yet rejoices because he is saved in Jesus with an everlasting salvation. He can only maintain a peaceful, happy conscience by frequent application to the open fountain. Nor does he feel quite satisfied, unless he enjoys the witness of the Spirit in his heart. He walks with God, and habitually aims to please him. The bent of his mind is to spiritual things, and they become natural to him — he pursues, loves, and enjoys them.

Sanctification includes all the graces and fruits of the Spirit — as faith, hope, love, patience, humility, meekness, zeal, long-suffering, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, and temperance. It is the desire of the truly sanctified, to do the whole will of God from the heart, and to suffer all his sovereign will with resignation.

His pattern is the life of Jesus;
his rule is the precepts of the gospel;
and his aim is to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

He is spiritually minded. He lives upon Jesus, and lives to Jesus. As God's chosen child, holy and dearly loved — he longs to clothe himself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, Colossians 3:12, 13. His daily business is to "add to his faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love." 2 Peter 1:5-7

He daily renounces all dependence on his doings and feelings, and rests on the finished work of Jesus alone, for his acceptance with God, and title to eternal life. To him . . .
the gospel, which proclaims a full and free salvation by faith alone — is good news;
holiness
is the only element in which his soul enjoys health;
sin
and sinners are a constant cause of grief; and
freedom from all impurity is the reigning desire of his heart.

He . . .
mortifies his members,
crucifies the flesh,
puts off the old man with his deeds,
and lives by faith on the Son of God.

Such is sanctification, as set forth in God's holy Word, and experienced by the Lord's people.

The AGENT in this great work is the Holy Spirit — to him, and to him alone, it is to be attributed. It is his office and work to sanctify; and all real sanctification is . . .
the effect of his indwelling,
the proof of his power, and
the display of his grace.

The Father's love chose us unto salvation;
the Son's blood redeemed us from damnation; and
the Spirit's power sanctifies and makes us fit for glory.

Thus the whole Godhead is manifested, engaged, and glorified, in our salvation: and Father, Son, and Spirit, are alike known, loved, believed, and adored.

Sanctification is evidently a principal end of all the purposes, promises, and operations of the glorious Jehovah.

We are chosen in Christ — that we might be holy, Ephesians 1:4.

We were redeemed by Jesus — to be "a peculiar people unto himself, zealous of good works," Titus 2:14.

We are "called with a holy calling," 2 Tim. 1:9.

And we are to be presented before our God at last, "holy, unblamable, and unreprovable in his sight," Colossians 1:22, Jude 24, 25.

We are now called . . .
"holy brethren," Hebrews 3:1;
"a holy priesthood," 1 Peter 2:5;
"holy and beloved," Colossians 3:12; and
the "holy temple of the Holy Spirit," 1 Cor. 3:17, 6:19.

"This is the will of God, even our sanctification," 1 Thessalonians 4:3; and until our sanctification is complete, and we exactly resemble the Lord Jesus Christ, in body, soul, and spirit — our salvation will not be finished, nor God's glorious purpose accomplished. We must be like him, for we are predestined to it: "we shall be like him — for we shall see him as he is," Romans 8:29. 1 John 3:2.

The temples of the Holy Spirit shall be thoroughly purified!
The bride, the Lamb's wife, shall be free from every spot, wrinkle, or any such thing!
The children of God shall be perfect — as their Father who is in heaven is perfect.

The INSTRUMENT by which this work is effected, is the Word of God, the truth as it is in Jesus. Hence he prayed, "Sanctify them through your truth, your Word is truth," John 17:17. Every doctrine, promise, precept, and narrative in God's Word — is of a sanctifying tendency; all teach us to . . .
avoid sin,
cleave to the Lord, and
perfect holiness in his fear.

"By the Word of God we are begotten again," James 1:18; by the same incorruptible Word, we are preserved in the faith, 1 John 3:9; and it is said to work effectually in all those who believe, 1 Thessalonians 2:13. But it is the Word as believed, as pleaded at the throne of grace, as obeyed in the life, for without faith the Word will not profit. Hebrews 4:2. But by faith, it purifies the heart, Acts 15:9.

Afflictions and trials are often employed to teach us the value, use, and importance of the Word; and, in connection with the Word, they further our sanctification. Yes, believer, your sorrows, your troubles, your bereavements, are all necessary; they are . . .
to wean you from earth;
to raise your thoughts and affections to heaven;
and to urge you on your way to your Father's house!

They are but your Father's voice, saying "Arise and depart; for this is not your rest; because it is polluted!" Micah 2:10.

Our Father chastens us in love, not for his own pleasure — but for our profit; that we might be partakers of his holiness, Hebrews 12:10.

Let us therefore prize and use the gospel, seeking to know all that is included in the apostle's words, when he said, "But we all with open face beholding, as in a glass, the Lord's glory — are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit," 2 Corinthians 3:18.

The work of sanctification is PROGRESSIVE.

At first we see the new-born babe, "desiring the sincere milk of the Word, that he may grow thereby," 1 Peter 2:2.
Then the young man who is strong, and has overcome the wicked one, 1 John 2:14.
At length the father in Christ, who knows him who was from the beginning, 1 John 2:13.

There is "first the blade, then the head, and then the ripe grain on the head." Therefore we are exhorted to . . .
"grow in grace," 2 Peter 3:18;
"purge ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit perfecting holiness in the fear of God," 2 Corinthians 7:1;
"be filled with the Spirit," Ephesians 5:18; and
"to abound in the work of the Lord," 1 Corinthians 15:58.

John, speaking of the present privileges and bright prospects enjoyed by the saints, says, "And every one who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure," 1 John 2:3.

Progressive holiness is just this:
the more entire yielding of the understanding to God's Word;
the more hearty surrender of the will to God;
the more steady fixing of the affections on heavenly things;
and the more complete consecration of the entire person to the Lord's glory.

Who will say that he is completely sanctified? Rather, what believer will not readily acknowledge that there is in his heart and life — room for more seriousness, humility, zeal for God, thankfulness, prayerfulness, faith, hope, love, patience, and meekness? Surely every Christian will say, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect — but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 3:12-14

Reader, are you sanctified?

What are your views of SIN? Is it in your estimation, the abominable thing? What are your feelings towards sin? Do you hate it? Do you mourn over it? Do you confess it with sorrow before God? Do you turn away from it with disgust?

What think you of CHRIST? How do you feel toward him? What know you of fellowship with God? What is it makes heaven desirable to you? Is it the holiness of the place, employments, and society? Unless you . . .
hate sin,
loathe self,
prize the open fountain,
cling to Jesus as your only hope, and
pant for holiness as the sick man for health
 — your sanctification is very doubtful!

Remember, no holiness — no heaven! You must be born again. You must be washed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God — or you will be found "in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity."

But we would not distress the weak believer, or wound the feeble-minded; and therefore we observe, that the most thoroughly sanctified, still feel the warfare within; the law in the members still wars against the law of the mind, and at times prevails. Corruption will work, Satan will tempt, and darkness at times gathers over the soul. The work of sanctification is not perfect, and at times it appears very feeble; but do not yield to fear, do not give way to despondency. The principles of grace are immortal, they must live, and shall overcome at the last. Seek more grace. Seek holiness. Seek it at the cross — at the throne of grace, from the God of all grace. Seek it by prayer — seek it by faith — seek it with hope. "The Lord will give grace," Psalm 84:11; he will give "more grace," James 4:6.

Let nothing satisfy you but holiness, or entire consecration to God.
Heaven requires it,
the law demands it,
atoning blood gives a title to it,
the promise secures it to every believing applicant,
the throne of grace is accessible, that we may seek it,
the Spirit works it,
trials deepen it,
and the resurrection will complete it.

Your heavenly Father is holy, and he says, "Be holy — for I am holy." "As he, therefore, who has called you is holy — so be holy in the whole of your conduct," 1 Peter 1:15, 16.

The more you are sanctified . . .
the deeper will be your humility,
the more vivid your views of sin, and
the stronger your confidence in God.

And yet, perhaps, while others are admiring the consistency of your life, and, it may be, even envying your attainments — you will be lying low before God, as the chief of sinners, and occasionally crying out, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death!" Romans 7:24.

For the nearer we are to the Lord . . .
the more vivid and painful our views of sin,
the stronger our desires after perfect holiness,
and the more we value and trust in the finished work of Jesus.

Then the mouth is shut, in point of boasting; but is opened wide to praise and pray.

Do not then be discouraged or mistaken — but pour out your heart before the Lord, and cry mightily to God.

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!" 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
 

 

The Great Defect!

Some things in religion may be dispensed with, without affecting our eternal salvation. But there is one thing we must experience — we must be born again. There is one blessing we must possess, and that is the Holy Spirit. As well may we expect to be saved without the sacrifice of Christ for us, as expect to be saved without the Spirit of God within us! And yet, in all ages, there have been those, under a profession of religion, who have thought themselves safe without this indispensable qualification. In the days of the Apostles, there were those who were "worldly people, having not the Spirit." Jude 19. This was the great defect, and this defect was the cause of all the errors they fell into, and the evil course into which they were betrayed. There is reason to fear that in these favored times, and in our privileged land, there are many professing Christ who are in just the same state — they have not the Spirit; and yet, no testimony can be plainer or more decisive than this, "If any man has not the Spirit of Christ — he is none of his." Let us attend to this subject a little.
 

What May Such People Have?

They may have a profession of religion, and that profession may have been made in a scriptural way. No one may be able to object to their creed — for it may be sound; nor to their conduct — for it may be moral. All the doctrines of the gospel may be believed, and all the moral requirements of the gospel may be outwardly observed.

The intellect may be enlightened,
the memory may be well furnished, and
the life may be generally consistent.
Yet such people may not have the Spirit!

They may fill an office in the church, and be a deacon, an elder, or even a minister.
Their gifts may be respectable.
Their duties may be regularly performed.
Their names may stand high.
Their usefulness may appear to be great.
They may be loved by the Lord's people.
They may be honored in the church.
Yet they may be destitute of the Spirit!

They may have a false hope buoying them up, and bearing them onward, so that they may not even doubt the goodness of their state: and this false hope may arise from . . .
impressions they have felt,
pleasures in religious services which they have enjoyed,
and the doctrines of the gospel which they have embraced.

They may have an unfounded confidence, which makes them bold, fearless, and active. A confidence founded, not on Christ, not warranted by the word — but produced by mistaking the gospel, and being ignorant of their own depravity and pollution.

They have tolerably clear light, which is the foolish virgins' lamp.

They have a profession of religion, which is the foolish virgin's robe.

They unite with the Lord's people, which is going forth to meet the bridegroom.

But they have no oil in their vessels — they have not the Spirit.

How much a man may have without this! How far a man may go without this! How long a person may remain under a profession of religion without this! With how many, a man may pass for a Christian without this! Let us beware, lest we should at last be found among those of whom it will be said, "having not the Spirit."
 

In What Are Such People Deficient?

Not having the Spirit — they lack true saving faith, for faith is of the operation of God, and is a fruit of the indwelling of the Spirit. They may give their assent and consent to all the great truths of the gospel, and to all that is said about Christ. But they have never been brought . . .
as poor sinners — to apply to Christ for salvation;
as really lost — to trust in him for deliverance;
as condemned — to commit themselves to him to be justified by his blood;
as stripped of everything of their own, and of all confidence in the flesh — to place their confidence in Christ alone.

Not having the Spirit — they have no genuine repentance. They may be sorry that they have sinned, for fear they should be punished — but they have never had their hearts broken at the cross, by an exhibition of the love of God to them, notwithstanding their sins. Repentance toward God flows from faith in Christ, which faith is produced by the Holy Spirit in the heart. The true penitent thinks not so much of the punishment which his sin deserves — as of the goodness, grace, and holiness of the God against whom he has sinned.

Not having the Spirit — they have no spiritual love. The natural affections may be excited, and bo drawn forth toward spiritual things; but it is not spirituality which excites them — but some amiable characteristic, some moral excellence, or some natural beauty. Spiritual love flows from a spiritual nature, and is fixed supremely upon God in Christ — and subordinately upon all people, and things, in proportion as they have a resemblance to him. Spiritual love never seeks its own advantage, or honor — but the honor and advantage of the object loved. This love also flows from faith, and is regulated by faith in its exercise and degrees.

Not having the Spirit — they have no enlightened zeal. They may be very zealous for a creed, a form of religion, or any of the outworks of Christianity; but for God's glory, for the honor of Christ, and for the good of souls, irrespective of sect or party — they are not, they cannot be. Zeal is the flower of love. True zeal flows from love, enlightened by divine truth, and always aims principally at the Divine glory.

Not having the Spirit — they have no right, heart-affecting, soul-transforming views of Christ. They may think highly of him, and they may speak well of him. But to them he is not a personal, present, soul-satisfying Savior. The eye does not affect the heart. Therefore the heart is not set upon Christ, so as to devote itself and all that it has to Christ. Now the Spirit, while he unfolds the work of Christ, testifies to the ability of Christ, and applies the blood of Christ. He directs the heart, and fixes the affections supremely upon the person of Christ. So that just in proportion as we experience the teaching and work of the Spirit — shall we be taken up with the person and personal glories of Christ.

Not having the Spirit — they have no deep and abiding conviction of sin, especially of the sin of unbelief. Now when the Spirit of truth has come, he convinces the world of sin, because it believes not on Christ. The people of whom we are writing, are convinced of outward acts of sin, and also that there are many things within them which are contrary to the law of God. But the hidden evils of the heart are not discovered by them; the great tap root of all sin, UNBELIEF, is not unfolded to their view; and therefore they are not humbled under it, nor led to loathe themselves before God on account of it.

Not having the Spirit — they have no hearty, thorough, self-renunciation. Now SELF must be renounced, before Christ can be enthroned in the heart — religious self, sinful self, self in every form! For we must sink into nothingness, into self-abhorrence — before we shall prize or glory in a salvation all of grace. The more we experience of the Spirit's work and power in our hearts, the less we shall think of ourselves, our experiences, our attainments , or our works. Self will be nothing — that Christ may be all in all.

Now where there is not . . .
a living faith in a living Savior;
genuine sorrow for sin, and departure from sin;
spiritual love to God and all that is godlike;
enlightened zeal for God and his glory;
heart affecting, soul-transforming views of Christ;
deep and abiding convictions of sin, specially of the sin of unbelief;
and habitual and thorough self-renunciation
 — there is not the Spirit — at least there is not that satisfactory proof of the indwelling of the Spirit which every professor of Christ should seek to possess.
 

What Are the Consequences of Not Having the Spirit?

Not having the Spirit — we have no title to Church privileges. Baptism, without faith, is not pleasing to God. The Lord's supper, unless we discern the Lord's body, is only eating our own condemnation. A place in the church, without Christ in the heart, only makes our conversion more difficult, our salvation more improbable, and leads to a hotter place in Hell. The church is no place for an unconverted sinner. Without union to the head — we can have no communion with the body; and without the Spirit — there is no union to Christ.

Not having the Spirit — we have no fitness for the Lord's service. Spiritual services require spiritual people. We cannot preach, or teach, or pray, or do anything acceptable to God — without the Holy Spirit. So that whatever gifts we may possess, whatever station we may fill, whatever calls we may have — we are not qualified to engage in the Lord's service, unless the Spirit of God dwells in us.

Not having the Spirit — we can have no spiritual fellowship, either with God, or with the saints. Fellowship springs from sameness, or similarity of nature. Light can have no fellowship with darkness. Christ can have no fellowship with Belial. God can have no fellowship with an unconverted sinner. If we would have fellowship with God, or with God's people — we must be taught, led, and sanctified by the Spirit of God. We may have fellowship with believers in temporal things, or in religious services; but fellowship with them as saints, in spiritual things — we cannot have without the Holy Spirit.

Not having the Spirit — there can be no consecration to the Lord's service and glory. People and things were consecrated under the law, by the application of blood and oil; and consecration is effected in the same way now. The blood of Christ must be applied to the conscience to remove the guilt of sin — and the Spirit must be imparted to set us apart for God. Therefore John wrote to God's consecrated ones of old, "You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things." That Holy One is the Lord Jesus; the anointing is the Holy Spirit; the things known are the things freely given to us of God. Again he says, "The anointing which you have received of him abides in you." The Spirit once given, abides; as Jesus said, "I will send you another Comforter, who shall abide with you forever."

The Holy Spirit . . .
sets us apart for God,
leads us to engage in the service of God,
enables us to perform the will of God,
blesses us to the Church of God, and
first enables, and then honors us, in being witnesses to the world for God.

Without the Spirit, therefore, we have . . .
no title to church privileges;
no fitness for the Lord's service;
no enjoyment of spiritual fellowship;
no consecration to the Lord's glory.

The consequences of not having the Spirit, hereafter will be truly dreadful! Make whatever profession we may, pass muster among the saints now as we will — we shall surely be detected then.

The chaff will be separated from the corn,
the tares from the wheat,
the sheep from the goats, and
the foolish virgins from the wise.

We shall be disowned by Jesus himself! He will say, "I never approved of you." In vain shall we plead, "Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and in your name cast out devils, and in your name done many wonderful works," for then will he say unto us, "I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice iniquity!"

We shall be shut out of the marriage supper of the Lamb. The wise virgins, all who have oil in their vessels, or all who have the Spirit, will be admitted within: but it will be in vain for us to come, stand outside and knock, crying, "Lord, Lord, open to us!" for he will answer, "Truly I say unto you. I know you not!"

We shall be exposed. Our folly will be made manifest unto all. Our portion will be shame and everlasting contempt. We will be treated with contempt by devils, and as the scum of God's creation — after being treated with respect both by saints and sinners here! This will be dreadful — unspeakably dreadful! Everlasting contempt! Oh, how fearful! How humbling! How degrading!

We shall be punished. Eternally punished. We shall know what the wrath of God means. We shall understand what the curse of God is. We shall feel the terrible force of the expressions, "weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth!" We shall suffer all that is intended by a consuming fire, everlasting burnings, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest! We shall be where the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. Then, then we shall find that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!

Reader, reader — have you the Spirit? Do you profess to have the Spirit? If so, see to it that you have it in reality; for if you have not, in a very little time . . .
you will certainly be detected;
you will be publicly exposed;
you will be openly disowned by the Judge of all;
you will be shut out of Heaven;
you will be shut into Hell;
you will be treated with contempt by all God's creation;
you will be punished with everlasting destruction, away from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

It is of little consequence what a man has then — if he has not the Spirit; for all real religion begins, is carried on, and completed by the Spirit. He breathes the first breath of life in us, he feeds and fosters the life he imparts, and he completes the work which he begins in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As no substitute can be found for the Holy Spirit and his work, we should carefully examine ourselves, whether we have received the Holy Spirit or not. Paul supposes the Lord's people will know it, hence he says, "What? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body!" 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Lest we should be deceived, let us not be satisfied with less than the fullness of the Spirit. We read of the saints of old, that "they were filled with the Holy Spirit." "He was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit," "Stephen, full of faith, and of the Holy Spirit." Nor are we to suppose that this was a peculiar privilege, to be confined to the few, for Paul exhorts the members of the Church at Ephesus to be "filled with the Spirit." "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess — but be filled with the Spirit."

On this fullness of the Spirit — let us set our hearts;
for this fullness of the Spirit — let us seek;
without this fullness of the Spirit-let us not be satisfied.

Our Heavenly Father is kindly disposed to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. Let us, therefore apply, and apply in downright earnest, pleading for the Spirit, as the Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind — as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ — as the Spirit of adoption, and the Spirit of Christ — as the Spirit who . . .
teaches,
guides into all truth,
helps our infirmities, and
seals us unto the day of redemption.

Father of mercies, fill us with the Holy Spirit!

Gracious Savior, give us the Comforter in fullness and in power, to abide with us forever!

Holy Spirit, come and make our hearts your home, and let us be filled with your presence, power, and glory — yes, let us be filled with all the fullness of God! Amen.
 

 

The GOSPEL

The Gospel is good news, or glad tidings. It is . . .
sent from Heaven,
proclaimed on earth,
heard by sinners, and
gladly embraced by those who are ordained to eternal life.

The Gospel is the glorious glad tidings of the Blessed God! It informs us that God is love, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, that he has blessed his people with all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and has given us the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

The Gospel is the glorious good news of Christ! It informs us:

that he is appointed and anointed to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and the remission of sins;

that he has borne our sins, suffered in our stead, and removed our transgressions by his death;

that he has conquered Satan, blotted out the handwriting that was against us, and made our peace by the blood of his cross;

that he now fully and eternally justifies all who believe on his name, is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, and has pledged his Word that he will cast out none that come unto him;

that he has finished the transgression, made an end of sin, brought in everlasting righteousness, made reconciliation for iniquity, abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light.

The Gospel is the glad tidings of the undeserved favor of God toward poor sinners. It sets forth grace as reigning — to conquer, pardon, and justify sinners without works. It tells us how grace abounds over sin, brings us salvation, and conforms us to the precepts of Heaven. It is the good news of salvation.

The Gospel informs us that . . .
eternal redemption is obtained,
a way into the holiest opened, and
all condemnation removed from those who believe in Jesus.

The Gospel is the glad tidings of a hope laid up for us in Heaven — a rest, a portion, an incorruptible inheritance . . .
given by the Father,
secured to us by the Son, and
revealed by the Holy Spirit, who becomes the pledge of it in our hearts.

The gospel comprises . . .
doctrines to be believed, and precepts to be obeyed;
promises to encourage, and rules to direct;
invitations to embolden, and warnings to guard;
ordinances to be observed, and relations to fill.

The gospel reveals . . .
a Savior, in whom we must trust;
a Sovereign, whom we must obey;
a Priest, on whose atonement we must rest;
a Mediator, through whom we must apply for every blessing which we need;
a Prophet, from whom we must learn;
a friend, in whose love we must confide;
a brother, from whom we may expect;
a father, whose authority we must revere;
an apostle, whose mission we must study; and
an advocate, to whom we must commit our cause.

The gospel . . .
flows from the free love, rich grace, and abundant mercy of our God;
is founded in the Savior's person, mediation, and death;
becomes efficacious through the revelation, operation, and application of the Holy Spirit. By it, he begets faith, imparts love, and excites hope; and when accompanied by his blessing — it is received in demonstration and power.

The gospel . . .
produces penitence — and godly sorrow for sin;
begets hatred to sin — and love to holiness;
weans from the world — and wafts the affections to Heaven;
makes us zealous for God — and the good of immortal souls;
delivers us from the power of darkness — and translates us into the kingdom of God's dear Son;
crucifies he flesh — and liberates the spirit;
unites Christians in love — and raises them above the fear of death;
fortifies us against persecution-and makes us rejoice in suffering shame for Immanuel's name;
humbles the spirit — and dignifies the man;
destroys covetousness — and makes us benevolent;
roots out pride — and implants meekness;
transforms us from the world — and conforms us to God;
begets hatred to uncleanness — and makes us chaste;
throws down idolatry — and leads us to worship God;
conquers SELF — and exalts Christ;
softens the hard heart — and produces kindness;
delivers from sin, Satan, and the world — and devotes body, soul, and spirit to the Lord.

The gospel is proclaimed below — to sinners of every name; and it is enjoyed above — by all who have felt its power. It belongs to Messiah's reign at present — but shall never be driven from Immanuel's dominions in future.

It is called the GLORIOUS gospel. It is . . .
glorious in its Author,
glorious in its nature,
glorious in its effects, and
glorious in its design.

It is said to be an EVERLASTING gospel. It is unchangeable in its nature and eternal in its existence.

It is called the TRUE gospel, or the gospel of truth, because it contains the truth of God and is opposed to all false religions.

It is the gospel of PEACE. It proclaims, imparts, and leads all who receive it into the enjoyment of peace:
peace with God,
peace with conscience,
peace with the church, and
peace with all mankind.

It is opposed to all human systems, and triumphs over all opposition. Is is founded in the highest inflames, attended by the power of the Spirit, and designed to glorify God in the salvation of his people!

It must stand,
it will spread,
it shall ultimately prevail.

It differs from the law — but is not strictly speaking, opposed to it: both are useful in the church, for both have a work to perform.

The law wounds — the gospel heals.

The law discovers the disease — the gospel presents the remedy.

The law sounds the alarm — the gospel provides the refuge.

The law inflames the house — the gospel supplies the water that quenches it.

The law awakens fear — the gospel begets hope.

The law demands payment — the gospel finds a surety.

The law shoots the arrow that wounds and rankles — the gospel applies the balm that soothes and heals.

The law wrecks the vessel — the gospel brings the life-boat to save the lost.

The law stirs up sin — the gospel purges away guilt.

The law binds with fetters — the gospel proclaims freedom.

The law strips us naked — the gospel clothes us in the best robe.

The law condemns the sinner — the gospel acquits him of all charge.

The law says, "I must die!" The gospel says, "Christ died for me!"

The law says, "God is angry!" The gospel says, "God is reconciled, his anger is turned away!"

The law stirs up sin, and ministers wrath and death; the gospel saves from sin, and ministers love and life.

The gospel is compared . . .
to the great jubilee trumpet — which proclaimed liberty, restoration, and wealth;
to honey — which is sweet, strengthening, and medicinal;
to a net — which, cast into the sea, catches, collects, and draws the fish to shore;
to leaven — which works, assimilates, and makes light;
to seed — which grows buds, and blossoms;
to treasure hid in a field — which is valuable, useful, and prized by the finder;
to light — which discovers, detects, and cheers;
to gold — which is tried, pure, and costly.

It is called . . .
"the gospel of God,"
"the gospel of Christ,"
"the gospel of the grace of God,"
"the glorious gospel,"
"the everlasting gospel."

The Scriptures speak of the gospel in the highest terms. They call it "the joyful sound." The Apostle said that he was not ashamed of it, "for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes." It turned the Thessalonians from dumb idols "to serve the living and true God." It made Paul the object of the world's hatred, Satan's envy, and the Church's love. It turns . . .
lions into lambs,
leopards into kids, and
vultures into doves.

It turns swords into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-hooks.

It turns a wilderness into Eden, and the desert into the garden of the Lord.

Wherever it is received by faith, a new creation appears; instead of the thorn — comes up the fir-tree; instead of the brier — comes up the myrtle-tree.

The gospel is an everlasting monument of God's wisdom, grace, and love. O may I feel more of the power, receive more of the light, and manifest more of the spirit of the gospel! O may I find it as sweet as honey, yes sweeter than the honeycomb to my taste! May I be taught to despise everything in compare with it, and say —
Should all the forms that men devise,
Assault my faith with treacherous art;
I'd call them vanity and lies,
And bind the gospel to my heart!
 

 

Yet They Are Your People

"Yet they are Your people, Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your great power and Your outstretched arm." Deuteronomy 9:29

The imperfections of the Lord's people, are sometimes so numerous and so great — that it is difficult for them to recognize the likeness of Jesus in them. They are so worldly, so selfish, and indulge such unlovely tempers — that we are ready to say that they can never be the Lord's redeemed people.

But it is impossible for us to say, with how much imperfection — true grace may dwell.

Who would have thought that Jonah was a true prophet, one of God's own choice, an object of His infinite and endless love? But he was!

Who, that heard Peter curse and swear that he never knew Jesus, would have said, that he had love in his heart to Him? Yet so it was!

It is well for us, that God sees not as man sees; for man judges by the outward appearance — but the Lord judges by the heart. A sour temper — sometimes conceals the sweet grace of Jesus. A rough exterior — may hide a gentle loving heart. But the Lord's people are, they always have been — very imperfect. Moses admits this; but he closes by concluding after all, "Yet they are Your people, Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your great power and Your outstretched arm." We will notice,
 

First, the Lord's conduct towards Israel. There is the stamp of His own nature, the impress of His own divinity, upon it. It is the conduct of a God, who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth. In Egypt, when smarting under a tyrant's rod — He looked upon them, He pitied them, He appeared for them, and exerted Himself on their behalf. Long did He bear with them, and was determined to deliver them. He treated and showed Himself to them — as God. He brought out His people from under Egyptian slavery — though haughty Pharaoh resisted, though the people complained, and though timid Moses was afraid. Having brought them out — He constituted them His own peculiar people, called them His children, treated them as such, and claimed them as His own inheritance!

Just so, has He acted towards us: we were in bondage under the elementary principles of the world, we were led captive by the devil at his will, we were serving divers lusts and pleasures, hateful and hating one another. He looked upon us, He pitied us, He determined to save us. He sent us His Word — His servants — His Spirit —  and His grace. He crushed the power of our foe, He subdued the enmity of our hearts — and He brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light, translating us into the kingdom of His dear Son.

He constituted us His people — by the work of His Spirit; He made us His children — by adoption and grace, and claims us for His own inheritance.

We are His people — and He is our God;
we His sheep — and He is our shepherd;
we are His children — and He is our heavenly Father.

In acting towards us thus, He . . .
displays His sovereignty,
manifests His grace,
exalts His gratuitous mercy,
confounds our foes,
lays us under the deepest obligation, and
will secure to Himself everlasting glory!
Let us now consider,
 

Secondly, Israel's conduct toward God. What a contrast is here!

Look at them at Marah — murmuring against Moses and against God, saying, "What shall we drink?"

See them in the wilderness of Sin, murmuring and exclaiming, "If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt! There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death!"

See them Mount Horeb, where they make the golden calf, and worship it.

View them at Taberah, where they wailed, "If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!"

See them at Massah, where they cried, "Why have You have brought us up out of Egypt — to kill us and our children, and our cattle with thirst?"

Look at them at Kibroth-Hattaavah, where they provoked the Lord to wrath.

See them at Kadesh-Barnea, where they indulged in unbelief, and were excluded from the land.

Their conduct from first to last was ungrateful, for God was their firm, fast, and faithful Friend.

It was unnatural — for He was their kind, tender, and indulgent Father.

It was treasonable — for He was their just, merciful and gracious Sovereign.

It was fearful — for it was against a present God, the symbol of whose presence was constantly before their eyes.

Well might Moses say of them, "You have been a stiff-necked people since the day I knew you!"

Well might God say of them, "I know how stubborn and obstinate you are. Your necks are as unbending as iron. Your heads are as hard as bronze. I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth!"

What a fearful picture, what a catalogue of crimes! Still Moses says, "Yet they are Your people, Your inheritance!" Oh, wondrous grace! Can these be the Lord's people? Yes, of them it is written, "The Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure." Surely it could not be for their excellency; or on account of their good works! No, "for My own sake," says the Lord, "for My names sake." God had a reason — but it was hidden in His own heart; He has a cause for acting — but it is found in Himself — not in His people.

But as base as their conduct was — who of us can cast a stone at them? Who has not done the same, really — if not formally? Have we not . . .
murmured against His providence,
complained of His dealings,
idolized His gifts,
lusted after forbidden objects,
and disbelieved His Word?

Which of Israel's sins is it, of which we cannot find the counterpart in our own hearts or conduct?

Have we not been ungrateful — as ungrateful as they were?

Have we not been unnatural in our conduct toward God — as unnatural as they were?

Has not our conduct been treasonable — as treasonable as theirs was? Is not our sin fearful — more fearful than theirs, as it is committed in clearer light, against greater love, after deeper obligations?

Friend, however you may feel — the writer feels that he is truly guilty.

Whatever excuse you may have — he feels that he has none.

However you may extenuate your crimes — he cannot extenuate his.

Conscience seems at this moment, to whisper, the language once addressed to Job, "Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquities infinite?" Yes! I am vile! I loathe myself! I abhor myself! I desire forever to glorify God's most, free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace — which alone saves me from hell! But let us glance,


Thirdly, at the plea of Moses.
The Lord was angry and threatened to destroy them. Moses falls down before Him, to plead with Him. He admits every charge that was brought against them — but still pleads, "Yet they are Your people, Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your great power and Your outstretched arm."

"Notwithstanding that they are base, unworthy, and guilty — yet they are Yours! They have been, they are rebellious — yet still, after all, as bad as they are — yet you have chosen them, wrought for them, acknowledged them, pledged yourself to them, and are engaged to deliver them!"

Just so, in reference to us, and the Lord's imperfect people with whom we are connected: they have naughty tempers, depraved hearts, inconsistent ways, and a host of infirmities, and imperfections — and yet they are the Lord's people.

He has chosen them — when perhaps none but the Lord would, knowing all about them, and the very worst of them.

He has wrought for them, and wrought in them, and does work by them — to our wonder and surprise.

He has acknowledged them at His throne, in His house, and by His providence — when none but a God would.

His Word is pledged to them, and He is engaged finally and eternally to deliver them.

Yes, poor, timid, tried reader; as bad as your heart is, as imperfect as your life is, as numerous as your faults are — yet you have not gone beyond Israel, nor beyond many of the Lord's people around you. Do not write bitter things against yourself. Do not try to blot your name out of the book of life. Do not lie not against your right. You may be one of the Lord's people — notwithstanding all you have done, all that you feel, and all that you fear; and if you really hate sin, rest on Jesus, and sigh and seek for holiness — you are one of them, too.

Observe: Grace, free grace — is the source of all our blessings. But for grace — we would have been left wretched, and miserable, and poor, and naked! Through free grace — we have a saving interest in Jesus, and in all new covenant blessings.

Poor are the returns which the Lord receives from us. What have we rendered to Him — for all His wondrous benefits to us? What are we now rendering? What has been the state of our hearts towards Him? How have we treated Him in the closet, in the family, in the house of prayer? He has spoken — and have we listened? He has wrought — and have we observed? He has commanded — and have we obeyed? He has prohibited — and have we avoided? He has exhorted — and have we attended? He has invited — and have we accepted? Have we?

But amidst all, our filial relationship still remains with God — and may be pleaded. He is our God — and we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. He still . . .
speaks to us in His Word,
watches over us by His providence,
listens to us on His throne, and
promises to be very gracious at the voice of our cry.

God's grace — is wondrous grace. His mercy — is from everlasting to everlasting! Amidst all our changes — He never changes; and therefore we are not consumed.

 

The Potter!

The doctrine of God's divine sovereignty is generally offensive to the carnal mind — because it strikes a death-blow at the root of man's pride, and lays the sinner low in the dust before God. Man does not like to be represented as lying absolutely helpless at the foot of divine mercy, entirely at the Lord's disposal. But God must be a sovereign, and if ever we are saved, it must be in the exercise of his sovereignty.

God commands Jeremiah to go down to the potter's house, to be taught a lesson there:
"So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: 'O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?' declares the Lord. 'Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.'" Jeremiah 18:1-6

These words are as applicable to us, as to them. Observe,

Our Position. We are in God's hand! He has full possession of us, and absolute power and authority over us. We cannot fly out of his hand, or escape from under his eye! We are in God's hand — as clay in the hand of the potter. We are powerless in his hand. We are wholly at his disposal — to be molded and changed, as to form, appearance, and value — just as he desires. He does with his creatures, according to his will — both in Heaven, and on earth. His will is our law; his decree is our destiny. This may be seen in nature, in providence, and in grace.

He arranged our birth, our position in society, and our calling by his grace.

Whatever he wills — he works.

Whatever he has purposed — he brings to pass.

The potter does not more really preside over the clay — than the Lord presides over all the affairs of the world.

We are in God's hand, as marred vessels. We have no beauty, no apparent value — unfit for sale, and unfit for use. If we are to be of use, if we are to glorify his great name — we must be re-made. Therefore every Christian is said to be, "his workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works," and that according to his foreordination. Whatever we are spiritually — we are by his grace. Notice then,

God's Sovereignty. He is our owner. The potter cannot claim the clay, which he has dug out of his own land — as absolutely as the Lord can claim us!

We are his — for he CREATED us. We were not — until he gave us a being; we never would have been — had he not willed it.

We are his — for he has PRESERVED us. By the constant exercise of his sustaining energy — we have been kept in existence according to his sovereign will.

As believers, we are his by REDEMPTION. Every legal impediment has been removed out of the way of his claiming us, and justly re-molding us, and raising us to the highest happiness and glory.

We are God's material for making vessels of mercy, which are to adorn his heavenly temple, and show forth his praise.

He is our absolute owner. No one can justly question his right, or interfere with his disposal of us. He may do as he will, with his own.

But as infinitely wise, whatever he does will reflect his wisdom.

As impartially just, whatever he does will be in accordance with justice — no part of the creation shall sustain any wrong, by anything he sees fit to do.

As plenteous in mercy, his mercy will appear in every exercise of his sovereignty.

We are his, absolutely his — but in dealing with us, in disposing of us — he will act wisely, justly, and in accordance with his mercy. Hence,

The Inquiry? "Can I not do with you as this potter does — says the Lord." Can I not break up the old marred form, reduce it to a shapeless mass, and re-form you for my own use and glory? Yes, he can — and he does! Therefore . . .
we are regenerated,
we are renewed in the spirit of our minds,
we are begotten again to a lively hope.

But God puts the question to us . . .
to convince us that we are absolutely at his disposal;
to impress us with a sense of our dependence on him;
to instruct and teach us that we are at his sovereign mercy;
to silence all the carnal reasonings and objections of the flesh;
and to humble our proud hearts!

O what a mercy it is, that the vilest can be changed! To change the nature and character of the sinner — is God's work alone! We are in one sense, that is in reference to all that is spiritually good — like passive clay in God's hand; he must work in us to will, and to do. He must form us for himself — if we ever actively show forth his praise.

Our God is our divine potter — and who shall effectually resist the working of his mighty power? Who can justly complain, if all that God does as a Sovereign in our world, is done in the exercise of his mercy, and is for our welfare?

Who can find fault without folly — in seeing God, the only wise, the all-comprehending, just, and holy God — taking marred vessels, and making them into vessels of honor — glorifying himself in doing so!

O my soul, lay low before the Lord, and let his own question deeply impress you, "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it: Why did you make me like this?"

O Lord, teach and sanctify me by your Spirit, that I may not only admit the doctrine of your sovereignty; but admire its working, and adore its holiness, justice, and grace!

 

Abiding in Christ

"No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin — has either seen Him or known Him." 1 John 3:6

The design of God in the gospel, is to make us like Himself — to conform us to His beloved Son, who is "the image of the invisible God." To this end — all the promises, privileges, and precepts of His Word are directed. At this, the work of the Holy and ever blessed Spirit aims. We must resemble Him — imperfectly here on earth. We will resemble Him — perfectly and completely, in Heaven. Christ-likeness is the object we should constantly keep in view — at this we should habitually aim. Being justified by grace, we should daily seek to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit; and that our bodies, souls, and spirits, should be preserved blameless, unto the coming of the day of God. This was John's object in writing this epistle, at this he aims directly or indirectly in every part of it. "These things write we unto you," he says, "so that you will not sin." And, "No one who abides in him keeps on sinning." Here is,
 

First, A DISTINGUISHING PRIVILEGE. To be in Christ. To abide in Christ. UNION to Christ, is the most glorious privilege of a child of God. It is vital and permanent. Faith brings us to the feet of Christ, love fixes on the beauty of Christ, and the Holy Spirit becomes the bond that unites us to His person.

Being united to Christ, it becomes our imperative duty, as well as our high privilege — to ABIDE in Christ. This gives power to prayer, as Jesus says, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you — you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done for you." And this is the cause of fruitfulness. "He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit, for without me," or severed from me, "you can do nothing." No union — no power; no union — no fruit.

To abide in Christ, is to realize Him as PRESENT with us — and to act us under His eye. An ever-present Savior is one of our greatest comforts. Realizing Him as present — we exercise faith in Him, He is the object of our confidence and trust. Realizing Him as present — we daily set our love upon Him, He is the object of our affection and delight. Realizing Him as present — we thus become zealous for Him, and diligent in His cause. Realizing Him as present — we live in fellowship with Him. This fellowship is an interchange of thought, feeling, and purpose; we drink into His Spirit, become of His mind, and naturally seek His honor. We come to Him — but it is to receive from Him; and out of His fullness we receive, grace upon grace.

We are to abide with Him — as our HEAD, who influences us; as the natural head does the body.

We are to abide with Him — as our HUSBAND, supplying us with all we need, and taking our cares upon Himself.

We are to abide with Him — as our FOUNDATION, sustaining us, and bearing the entire weight of our everlasting salvation.

We are to abide with Him — as the VINE, which renews its branches by sending up the sap which produces the buds, foliage, and fruit. We must believe in Jesus for influence, supplies, supports, and constant renewals.

To abide in Christ — is having to do with Christ every day and all the day — for all we need, desire, or hope for. As the wife abides with her husband, as the stone abides on the foundation, as the branch abides in the vine — so we must abide in Jesus. Thus piety becomes our element, spiritual things become natural, and carnal things lose their power over us. Here is, 

Secondly, The RESULT of this privilege. "No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning." This does not mean that they are absolutely perfect, or entirely free from sin; otherwise every believer, would be a sinless person.

But it means that abiding in Christ, they do not sin DELIBERATELY. They may be betrayed into sin. They may be overcome by temptation, as the best of men have been. But they cannot deliberately plan and execute that sin, which is prohibited by God's holy precepts.

They cannot sin HABITUALLY. Occasionally they may be overcome — but the habit of sin is broken. Every believer breaks off his sins, by righteousness.

They cannot sin FINALLY. Or having fallen, they cannot remain in that state. Grace within them will work and struggle, until it raises them out of such a condition.

He who abides in Christ, knows what sin is — in its nature, tendency, and deserts.

He knows that the nature of sin is contrary to God, turning the back upon Him, and trampling His law under foot. How can he do this while, he lives in intimate fellowship with Him?

He knows that the tendency of sin is to alienate him from God, hide his face, and expose him to His dreaded frown. How then can he indulge it?

He knows that every sin deserves hell, and that every willful sinner deserves endless banishment from God.

Therefore he does not continue to sin. His heart is set against sin, and instead of indulging — he mortifies it; instead of yielding to the flesh — he crucifies it, with its passions and lusts. He thirsts for holiness, as the thirsty traveler for water! Holiness is the ruling desire of his soul. This is the great object of his pursuit. This is his chief delight. Often he sighs and cries out "Oh! to be holy, perfectly and perpetually holy!" Here is, 

Thirdly, the proof of a CARNAL state. "No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him." His creed may be sound. Evangelical sentiments may float in his brain, like snow flakes in the air. He may be able to split hairs in doctrine. But if he sins continually — deliberately, habitually, and finally — he has never known the Savior.

A carnal state, is a state of ignorance. The carnal man is in darkness. Christ is not truly perceived or known. Such may be familiar with His name, and with all the leading facts of His Word — but they do not know Him. The man who lives in any known sin, has not discerned . . .
the glory of His person,
the nature of His work,
the tendency of His love, or
the design of His gospel.

He has no true faith! Faith is the eye of the soul; Christ is the object placed before it; and the gospel is the light by which Christ is seen. If the eye fix on Christ, the heart immediately desires a union to His person, and is willing to give up everything for this.

Faith sees that He came to put away sin, to destroy the works of the devil, and to make all those who believe on Him a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Faith feels that the tendency of the love of Christ — is to holiness; and that it constrains all who feel it, to live not unto themselves — but unto Him who died for them and rose again.

The soul that lives in sin, does not know the design of Christ's death — that it was to be the death of sin.

The soul that lives in sin, does not know the nature of His love — which is the great principle of holiness.

The soul that lives in sin, does not know the life of Jesus, as the pattern from which every believer is to copy — and the rule which every Christian is to obey.

No sin is, or can be, sanctioned by the gospel! No sinner, who lives in, and enjoys sin, can be a Christian. Such are not united to Christ, they cannot be said to be abiding in Christ.

Union to Christ, is the source of evangelical holiness. No union to Jesus — no holiness of heart and life. And if there is no holiness of heart and life — there can be no union to Jesus. As well may the branch grow without union to the vine — as a Christian be holy without union to Jesus! And as well may a living branch be united to the vine, and never put forth leaves or fruit — as a person may be united to Jesus, and not bring forth the fruits of righteousness.

Indulgence in sin — proves a person to be ignorant of Christ. Head knowledge he may have — heart knowledge he cannot have. For just in proportion to our heartfelt, experimental knowledge of Christ — will be our hatred to sin, fear of sin, and careful departure from sin.

Union to Christ, if it is real and vital — will destroy the love and power of sin within us; and if we are not delivered from the bondage and service of sin — whatever may be our creed, profession, or confidence — we are still strangers to Christ, and separate from Him. For "No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin — has either seen Him or known Him."

Living faith always . . .
perceives Christ,
receives Christ,
leads to union with Christ,
consecrates the heart to Christ, and
devotes the life to the service of Christ!

This is the faith which distinguishes God's elect, to which the promise of salvation is made, and which invariably works by love.

 

More of Christ! More of Christ!

What is it my soul, which causes this uneasiness, this dissatisfaction, this deep inward yearning after something which you have not, or do not at present enjoy? I am not at rest. I am not rejoicing in God. I am not singing from the heights of Zion. Yet, I have no slavish fears, I have no gloomy doubts of my saving interest in Christ, I have no actual dread of death or the judgment. But I feel a desire to climb higher, to know more, and to enjoy the power of religion within — as I have not of late. It seems to me that all my needs lead me to Christ, and all my desires go out toward Christ. I want — well, what do I want?

I want to feel more of my NEED of Christ. I have imagined at times, that I could not have a deeper sense of my need of Christ, and of all that Christ is, and has — than I have already experienced. But I am persuaded now that I may, and that only in proportion as I daily feel my need of Christ — shall I desire to know him, trust in him, and enjoy him. I know theoretically, that I need Christ in every office which he sustains, in every relationship which he fills, and in every character which he has assumed. I need him not only to rescue me from death — but to feed me, clothe me, teach me, keep me, guide me, and comfort me. I need him to do all for me, and all within me — which either God, or my circumstances require. O to feel more of my need of Jesus, that I may not be happy one moment — but only as I look to him, lean on him, and receive from him!

I want to KNOW more of Christ. O how little do I really know of Christ! I have thought of him, spoken of him, and wrote about him — but how little I really know of him. I want to know more of the person of Christ, more of the grace of Christ, and more of the work of Christ. I want to know more of Christ for me, and more of Christ within me. I want to know more of the words of Christ, and more of the heart of Christ. I want to know Jesus as God's Christ — and as my Christ. I want so to know Christ, as never to doubt his love, question his veracity, or to fear his coming. Yes, so to know him — as to devote myself wholly to him, and be ready at any time to depart and be with him!

I want more AFFECTION for Christ. Yes, I want to love Jesus — and to feel that I love him. I want to love him — and to prove by my conversation, conduct, and spirit — that I do so love him. There ought to be no doubt on my own mind on this point — but I should be ready to say, "I love him — because he first loved me." There ought to be no cause or occasion for any who know me, to question whether I love him. O no, his love should so influence my conduct, and his love should so season my conversation — that all about me may feel sure, that if I love anyone, I love Jesus. O that the Holy Spirit would shed abroad the love of Christ in my heart more and more — that my love to him may be as strong as death!

I want to realize more sensibly my UNION with Christ. Christ is the head of the church, and all the true members of that church are in union with him. I cannot but believe that I am one with Christ. I often feel as if I could not live without Christ. But I want daily and hourly to live under the impression — that Christ and my soul are one. That I am a member of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. What privilege can exceed this — to be united to Christ! Then, because he lives — I shall live also. Then he will use his influence for me, spend his wealth upon me, and desire to have me with him to behold his glory. O Jesus, dwell more sensibly in my heart, and let me dwell more sensibly in you!

I want more COMMUNION with Christ. Communion flows from union — and proves its vitality. No union to Christ — no communion with Christ. And if there is no communion with Christ — then there is no evidence of union to Christ. The branch being one with the vine — receives its life, sap, and nourishment from the vine. Just so, we being one with Christ — receive our spiritual life, holiness, and happiness from Christ. The member lives, grows, and is strong — because it is in union with the head. Just so, the believer lives, grows, and is strong — because he is in union with Christ, the head. In proportion as we realize our union with Christ, will be the sweetness and constancy of our communion with Christ. And in proportion to the sweetness and constancy of our communion with Christ — will be the assurance of our union to Christ. O for more sweet, sanctifying, and soul-ennobling communion with Jesus!

I want more ASSIMILATION to Christ. What I see in Christ I admire, and I admire all that I see in Christ. But admiration is not enough. I want to be like Jesus, just like him — altogether like him. The more I am with him, and the more I see of him — the more I sigh, cry, and long to be like him! I think one may live at such a distance from Christ, and have so little to do with Christ — that he may not be very anxious or desirous to be like him. But I am sure that we cannot be much in his company, or be led by the Holy Spirit, to see much of his moral and spiritual beauty — but we shall desire to be fully like him. At times, this seems to be the one thing needful with me, the one thing that I desire of the Lord — that I may be like Jesus. But it is not always so, it is not sufficiently so — therefore I cannot but wish for more assimilation to Christ.

I want to be fully POSSESSED of Christ. Not only to be like him — but to be with him — not only with him in grace — but with him in glory! I am sure that I shall never be perfectly satisfied — until I have Christ always with me — until I am always with him in his Father's home and kingdom. This is promised me, I must believe the promise, and wait for its fulfillment. Soon it will be true in my experience, "Absent from the body — present with the Lord." I shall "depart and be with Christ — which is far better" than being here, distant from him, and so often sighing for the enjoyment of him! Then I shall possess Christ! Then I shall be fully satisfied with the presence of Christ.

O Lord, let me have a deeper sense of my saving interest in Christ now, let me enjoy more of him while on earth — and then I know that I shall be satisfied when I awake up in his glorious likeness!

Now it seems to me that these things go together, or naturally follow each other:

In proportion as I feel my need of Christ — I shall desire to know Christ — to know him fully, to know him experimentally.

In proportion as I know Christ — shall I desire to set my affections on Christ, and to love him with an unquenchable love.

Just in proportion to my love to him — will be my desire to realize close and vital union to him.

In proportion as I realize my union to Christ — shall I want to have and enjoy communion with Christ.

In proportion as I enjoy communion with Christ — shall I long for assimilation to Christ.

And as I long for assimilation to Christ — shall I desire fully to possess him, and to be forever with him!

Reader, do you know anything about these things? I have written these lines out of my own heart, and they express the feelings and desires of my soul.

If I know anything — I do know in a degree my need of Christ.

If I desire anything — I do desire to know Christ.

If I wish to love at all — I wish to love Christ supremely.

If I prize anything — I prize union to Christ.

If I desire anything — I desire communion with Christ.

If I aspire to anything — I aspire to be like Christ.

If I am persuaded that I shall be satisfied with anything — I am persuaded that I shall be satisfied with the presence and possession of Christ.

All my religion finds its center in Christ!

My whole creed begins, goes on, and ends with Christ!

I value doctrines — but I set more value on Christ!

I prize ordinances — but I think more highly of Christ!

With me it is — Christ first, Christ middle, Christ last!

Reader, is it so with you?

 

Sighing for Jesus!

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God! When can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:1-2

I have just been reading of the last days of a believer in Jesus, a kind of reading of which I am very fond. For while I admire the holy and useful lives of Christians, and look upon them as the best and most certain evidences of true faith; yet I love to listen to their dying testimony, and mark how they acted in the swellings of Jordan. I know what it is to live — but I do not know what it is to die, and therefore as I must die, and I know not how soon, or how suddenly — I love to accompany others to the last conflict, and observe now they endure and overcome.

Death-beds differ, even the death-beds of true believers. Some are filled with joy, others are only hopeful. Some glide away smoothly and softly — while others have much hard fighting at the last. Some have no doubts or fears — while others are very much tried with them. Some shout victory — others can only say, "I have a good hope." Some speak much to those about them — others say but very little. This was the case with the good man I was reading of, his whole dying experience was comprehended in one sentence, "I am sighing for Jesus!"

He did not sigh for life, nor for ease — but he was sighing for Jesus. I cannot help observing, how much of my experience now, is expressed in those words, "I am sighing for Jesus." Yes, yes, I can do without riches, or fame, or the honor which man confers. I am pretty well content with what providence sends me — and yet I often sigh, and sigh deeply too. Some would think me unhappy — but I am not. Some may conclude I am discontented with my situation in life — but I am not. Yet I sigh — I often sigh.

I have read of a bird, which if caught and caged, never ceases to sigh, until it obtains its liberty, or dies. I am somewhat like that bird, and I expect I shall continue to sigh — until I obtain my desire. I have had a glimpse of Jesus — and I sigh for a full view of him. I have tasted the sweetness of communion with him — and I sigh for uninterrupted fellowship. I have felt a little of the cleansing influence of his precious blood, and Holy Spirit — and I sigh for a thorough cleansing, that I may be perfectly and forever holy. I sigh to be exactly like Jesus! I sigh to be forever with Jesus! I believe that if I were just like him, and always with him — that I would sigh no more. But I think nothing else will put a complete stop to my sighing.

Perhaps someone is ready to say, "Oh, I have often heard you religious people go sighing about — and I felt sure that you were miserable, notwithstanding all your pretensions." Stop, not too fast, friend — you have heard us sigh — but we are not miserable. No, no, we have more of real happiness while sighing — than you have while singing. We have been just what you are, and where you are — and know therefore what you enjoy, and we would not exchange our saddest hours, for your most joyous ones! We do sigh — but we sing also; and our sighing very frequently is but like tuning the instrument, in order to the production of sweet and thrilling music. Our sighs always introduce songs now; and our sighs on the bed of death — will end in the glorious songs of Paradise.

We only sigh for what God has promised us. Our sighing is produced by the sweet and ravishing tastes we have had of the love and grace of Jesus. We do not sigh for sinful pleasure, or forbidden objects; no, we sigh for Jesus; that we may know him more perfectly, love him more entirely, and enjoy him uninterruptedly! And this we shall do by and by; the day is coming, and it may be very near, when the days of our mourning shall be ended, and when we shall heave the last sigh, and begin the never-ending song. "The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away!" Isaiah 51:11

Reader, do you ever sigh? What do you sigh about? Is it only about worldly disappointments, or earthly trials, or bodily pains? If so, I pity you, heartily do I pity you, for your sighs will not produce any good result, "the sorrow of the world," or worldly sorrow, the sorrow of worldly men about worldly things, "works death." This is the testimony of God, and it is true, as thousands have already found it, and we fear that thousands more will.

But are you sighing for something better than you have, something that will give you solid peace, enable you to pass through life's trials with confidence, and face death's terrors with courage? If so, go at once to Jesus — and he will give you what you need, and give it freely. He has inspired many a timid heart with courage, he has imparted peace to many a troubled breast, he has given confidence to many a fearful soul, and he will do the same for you. You may sigh afterwards — but the very nature of your sighing will be changed, nor will you sigh for the same object. You will only sigh for more of what you have, for the perfecting of the work begun.

Timid Christian, take comfort, you are sighing for Jesus; so am I; so was the dying Christian I was reading of. Our experience is the same, produced no doubt by the same Holy Spirit, and occasioned by the same ardent longing for holiness and perfect joy. We belong to the same family, are entitled to the same blessings, and are traveling to the same glorious home!

Our sorrows will soon end, and our sighing forever cease. We shall soon be with Jesus, like Jesus, and everlastingly employed in praising Jesus; and then, we shall sigh no more! The experience of the wilderness — only fits us for the land of rest! The sorrows of earth — only prepare us for the joys of Heaven!

Let us then sigh — but not be sad. Let us mourn — but never murmur. Let us carry the cross, face the foe, breast the wave, push on our way through the desert, and expect the glorious end to crown the whole! In the field of labor, while at a distance from home, during our conflict with sin and Satan, with our doubts and fears — it is no wonder that we sigh! But once at home, once at rest, once with Jesus — we shall sigh no more! No one ever sighed for Jesus, who did not love him. No one who ever loved Jesus and manifested it by sighing for him — was ever left to perish — nor ever will. Then, O then, may I sigh for Jesus while I live; and when lying on my dying pillow — may this be this my dying testimony, "I am sighing for Jesus!"

 

Desires Regarded

Our religion is sometimes at a very low ebb. What with trials without, stirring up corruption within, and the temptations of Satan taking advantage of our various defects — we can scarcely tell whether we have the root of the matter in us or not! At such times, we are led to look back, and to take hold afresh of those portions of God's word, which cheered and comforted us when we first began our pilgrimage. On one such sweet portion my eye is now fixed, may the Lord help me to write a few lines on it, which may do those good who are weak in faith, and weary in the way. "He will fulfill the desire of those who fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will save them." Psalm 145:19
 

The Characteristics. FEARING. Our fear is often of a very mixed character, partly legal and partly evangelical. Our fears are often very painful; and seldom are they beneficial.

When first awakened by the Holy Spirit, and led to see our lost state and condition — the principal object of our fear is the wrath of God. We know we deserve it, the guilt of sin in the conscience, fills us with alarm respecting it — and we fear that it will suddenly fall upon us. The eye of the mind is fixed on the threatenings of the word, and in them appears the holiness, justice, and majesty of an offended God. Our fears now gain strength, and terrible alarms often agitate the soul. We need the promises and invitations of the word, and long to appropriate them — but dare not so much as touch one of them. They are for the Lord's people — and we cannot believe that we are such; or they are for particular characters — and we dare not conclude that we are among them. O if we could but escape the dreadful wrath of God, if we were but delivered from his awful threatenings, if we had but a saving interest in his promises, or if we could but even claim his invitations — our fears would not be so strong, or so painful — but we cannot!

When the mind has been led to see something of the graciousness of the Divine character, and the nature and design of the great atonement — hope springs up, and our fear is somewhat changed in its character. We now fear sinning against God. If we could but abstain from sin! If we could but live a holy life! If our hearts were but clean! But when we turn the eye within, and see what a horrid pit of pollution the heart is, and mark the working of corruption there — we fear that we are too vile to be noticed, or regarded with pity or compassion, by a holy God. O what painful fears we feel working within us now — we fear that we must be banished from God, that we shall never see his face, or feel his forgiving love! We see net how a just God, can ever forgive or justify such sinners as we are! If we could but pray, or repent, or believe, we might hope; but when we try to pray — we are all confusion; when we would repent — our hearts are as cold as ice, and harder than the nether millstone; and when we would believe — we feel as if we could believe anything but the gospel, and every one but God. Yet under all this, there is the fear of God — for conscience is tender, the soul is set against sin, and the walk is in accordance with God's precepts. Of such, though they have not peace, though they do not enjoy rest, though they are not happy — we must say that they "fear God."

They have had many and painful desires working within them, which desires indicate the bent of the mind, and the working of the Spirit of God. The principal, the ruling desire, is for a saving interest in Christ. This appears to the soul, as the one thing needful. If soul had this — it could endure any privations, suffer any pains, and do anything God requires; but without this — every duty is a task, and every privilege a burden. It cannot rest on general principles, saying, "Christ died for sinners, and therefore he died for me; or he is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and therefore for my sins." It wants something more definite, something more distinct, something more satisfactory. It wants to see that Christ was its personal substitute, and its all meritorious sacrifice; doing all that the law required of it, and suffering all that the law threatened to inflict upon it. Or to realize that it is savingly interested in the person, work, and death of Jesus — being identified with Jesus, represented by Jesus, and doing and suffering in Jesus.

When such a sense of a saving interest in Christ is obtained, then the desire of the soul is to know Christ, to know all about Christ. To know Christ thoroughly, scripturally, and experimentally; so to know him, as to commit all to him, and leave all with him. Then the soul desires to hold near, dear, and close communion with him; often to hear from him, having his word applied to the conscience and the heart. The soul also longs to love him, trust him, obey him, enjoy him, and praise him; to share with his people in all their joys and sorrows, griefs and gladness, to be one with them on earth, preparatory to being one with them in Heaven forever. Such are some of the desires of those who fear him. 

The Lord's Loving-kindness. "He will fulfill the desire of those who fear him." His Spirit kindled it, and his grace will fulfill it. This led the Psalmist to exclaim, "How excellent is your loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of your house; and you shall make them drink of the river of your pleasures." Not only satisfied — but abundantly satisfied. Not only satisfied — but filled with pleasure — drinking, as the thirsty traveler, of the river of pleasure.

O the sweet satisfaction felt, the intense pleasure experienced, when the Spirit seals home a sense of our saving interest in Jesus, unfolds the glory of his person and work, sheds abroad his love in our hearts, and seals us to the day of redemption! He gives freely, without any inducement on our parts, as it is written, "He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away." There was nothing in the party but hunger, poverty, and helplessness — and the Lord filled the soul, satisfying it fully. "He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."

Poor tried soul, the Lord will fulfill your desires, he may delay to do so for a time — but he will make good his word, and you shall rejoice in him, and bless his name.

"He also will hear their cry, and will save them." Pray they cannot, according to their own apprehension — but cry they do, they must. As Peter, when sinking in the water, cried, "Lord, save me!" And the poor woman, overwhelmed with distress about her daughter, cried, "Lord, help me!"

So this poor soul cries, and cries often, and from the depths of the soul, "Lord, save me!" They cry — as the young ravens for food, or the young lions for prey, or the babe for the breast. Their brief prayers are the language of the new nature — the cry of the regenerated soul.

They cry, because burdened with sin, and terrified with a sense of wrath.

They cry for deliverance from their fetters, and the bondage in which they are held.

They cry against temptations, especially temptations to sin and despair.

They cry because of enemies, especially the enemy which would condemn their souls.

They cry for help in troubles, and deliverance from sin and Hell.

They cry for strength and direction, under a sense of weakness and perplexity.

They cry, and as the mother hears her infant, and flies to its relief; as the father hears his son, and runs to meet and forgive him, so the Lord hears the cry of a quickened soul, and saves it.

God-fearing souls are blessed. They hunger and thirst after righteousness, and they shall be filled. They want to be right, internally and externally, before God and before man, in state and in experience; for this they hunger and thirst — and with this they shall be blessed. They desire — for what God intends to bestow; they cry — for what God delights to give. He therefore will fulfill their desire, he also will hear their cry and will save them.

Is my reader, a poor, doubting, fearing soul? If so, let me say for your encouragement, that if you can trace out within your heart — a desire for Christ and his salvation, and if that desire is the abiding, ruling desire of your soul — it is a proof of the work of the Spirit of God in your heart; it is the smoking flax which Jesus will never quench — but will raise it to aflame. If you have a cry put into your heart for deliverance from sin, Satan, and Hell — then God has put it there, and he who put it there, intends to answer it. It may be a feeble cry, a pitiful cry, a painful cry — but the Lord will hear and answer it. Cry on then as the woman of Canaan did — cry so much the more, as discouragements increase, as the poor blind man in the gospel did — and Jesus will soon hear you, and answer you to the joy and rejoicing of your soul.

God notices desires and looks. He hears the desires of the humble, and satisfies the desire of every living soul — that is, of every one made alive by the Holy Spirit.

A look reaches his heart, raises his arm, opens his hand, and brings deliverance; as David testifies, "I sought the Lord and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him and were lightened; and their faces were not ashamed." God reads the desires of your heart. God notices the uplifted eye. God listens to the feeblest cry. God promises to appear and save the crying soul.

His promises meet our circumstances, and answer to our experience. The work of the Spirit within us, prepares us for the promises which God has made for us, and then the promises are fulfilled. When God fulfills his promises — he glorifies his own faithfulness, and fills us with joy and peace. Blessed, forever blessed, be our promise-making, and promise-fulfilling God. His mercy is ever great towards us, and his truth endures from generation to generation.

In thousands and millions of instances — has he already fulfilled the desire of those who fear him, and he will do so in millions more. In all ages he has heard the cry of the soul which desires grace, mercy, and salvation at his hands; he hears it now, and he will hear it evermore.

Holy Spirit, comfort the heart of the poor, depressed, and sorrowful soul, whose desire is toward you, and who longs to enjoy the salvation of God!

 

Brought Low — but Helped

"I was brought low — and He helped me!" Psalm 116:6

The circumstances of the Christian often vary — and it is no uncommon thing for his frames and feelings to vary with his circumstances. On this account, many of the Lord's people are either elevated — or depressed, but seldom enjoy a calm, peaceful, and settled state of mind. Their depression is great — or their joys are high. But even this is overruled for their good, and is sanctified to the humbling of the soul, and the preserving it from self-importance and pride. What a mercy it is to have a God to go to — let our frames and feelings be what they may. What a mercy to have one who will sympathize with us, and of whom it is said, "Like as a father pities his children — so the Lord pities those who fear him." This was David's encouragement, and lay at the root of much of his experience, and led him to say, "I was brought low — and He helped me."
 

His Painful Condition. "I was brought low." O how low the believer is brought sometimes — into what straits and trials, into what troubles and distresses!

Sometimes in his outward circumstances, by the loss of property, or friends, or situation; all seems against him, everything seems to conspire together to bring him low.

Sometimes in body, by strong pain, extreme weakness, or nervous disorders; so that everything loses its relish, and he can enjoy nothing earthly.

At other times it is distress in the soul, by violent temptations, by distressing bereavements, by the hidings of the Lord's face, or his withholding divine communications. Now everything appears to be covered with a pall — and gloom and darkness spreads over the soul.

But at times the Lord so sanctifies the circumstances, as painful as they are, that they become real blessings:
pride is humbled,
false confidence is destroyed, and
the man walks softly before the Lord.

Yet at other times — faith is shaken, the heart is straitened, doubts spring up, fears are strong, the evidences are beclouded, prayer becomes a task — and we think that God must be angry with us. This brings us low, lays us prostrate, and we cry plaintively unto God. Then in answer to the cry of faith, the Lord sends help, or appears for our relief, and soon we are able to say, "I was brought low — and he helped me!"

His Encouraging Testimony. "He helped me." Blessed be his holy name, he never allows us to sink — but he comes to our help! He helps us in trouble:
by rendering his assistance,
by sending us supplies,
by raising us up friends,
by restoring us to health and strength,
by reviving our graces and raising our spirits;
or by imparting a little scriptural light, a little holy love, a little Heavenly dew, or a little spiritual unction.

Thus he draws out our souls in prayer, excites hope in his mercy, awakens confidence in his Word — and we sink in deep humility at his footstool.

Now we can bear trouble with patience, and look for deliverance with courage. He helps us out of trouble, by turning our captivity as he did Job's. Now . . .
providence smiles,
health returns,
promises are applied,
comfort is imparted,
the Spirit bears his inward witness,
the heart is enlarged,
confidence is produced, and
sweet communion with himself is granted.

This is sending and taking us out of the deep waters. This is bringing us up out of the horrible pit — and setting our feet upon a solid rock. This is like returning to the days of our youth. Now we can sing in the ways of the Lord, because great is the glory of the Lord. Now we can say with the prophet, "O Lord, I will praise you, though you were angry with me — your anger is turned away, and you comfort me."

We must sink — before we rise. This is always true in grace, for before honor — is humility. We must pace the valley of humiliation, before we ascend the mount of high and holy communion with God. And very frequently is it the case, that the lower we sink — the higher we rise. If the Lord is stripping us, emptying us, pruning us, and bringing us low; so that we feel weak, empty and void of good — it is in order that he may strengthen us with his might, bring us to rest on his Word, fill us with his own love, and lead us to look for everything in Jesus.

When brought low — hope should be encouraged. The Lord will help us. We ought not then to encourage fears, or yield to despondency — but should rather chide ourselves for yielding to such feelings, as David did, when he said, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." He who brings down — will raise up. If the Lord bring us down by his providence — he will support and raise us up by his grace. He may lay us so low — that no hand may be able to reach us but his own; or our affairs may become so perplexed — that no one can unravel them but himself. But as sure as this is the case, he will appear for us, and work our deliverance. He will never leave us prostrate, for it is his prerogative to raise up the poor out of the dust, and lift up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory!

None of God's people die in the pit. Joseph was cast into one — but the coming of the Midianite merchants, caused him to be taken out. Jeremiah was cast into a worse pit — but Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, was used to deliver him. Just so with us — whatever pit we may fall into, or be thrown into — so sure as Daniel was taken up unhurt out of the den of lions — so shall we be delivered.

The church of old testified, "We went through fire and through water — but You brought us out into a wealthy place." Just so shall we shortly be delivered, and when we stand on the borders of the promised land, when we are about to cross the river that separates time from eternity, when about to close the eyes on everything below, we shall then with our dying breath for the comfort of those we leave behind us say, "I was brought low — and He helped me!"

"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine! When you go through deep waters — I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty — you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression — you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3

 

The Remedy for a Troubled Heart!

"Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God — believe also in Me!" John 14:1

We often trouble ourselves. We often allow our hearts to be tossed about like the waves of the sea, without any real cause. Our Savior forbids it. He forbids it in tender love. He forbids it because it is injurious. Inward commotion, or confusion, such as is referred to in the text, unfits us for social duties, pious exercises, and usefulness in the church of God. It lays us open to temptations, and fosters unbelief and anxiety. Our Lord would have us calm, patient, and composed; therefore He says, "Let not your heart be troubled!"

He prescribes a remedy for heart trouble, or inward anxiety:

1. "Believe in God." Believe in God as your Father — as loving you, acting for you, and rejoicing in your welfare. See Him . . .
ordering all events with consummate wisdom;
overruling all with infinite skill; and
sanctifying all to your welfare, by His sovereign grace.

There is no room for 'chance' — for His government is perfect.

There can be no unkindness — for His love is infinite.

All will be directed right — for He personally superintends every detail in the universe!
The floating of the atom,
the rolling of the sea, and
all the movements of every mind —
are alike under His control and direction!

"He works all things after the counsel of His own will."

2. "Believe also in Me." Believe. . .
that I sympathize with you;
that I feel the deepest interest in your welfare;
that I never withdraw my eye or heart from you for one moment;
that I will support you in every place, and under every trial;
that My arm shall be stretched out for you, to lean upon, as you come up out of the wilderness of this world;
that I will save you to the uttermost;
that I will show you a brother's love;
that I will stand by you as a firm friend in every distress;
that I will overturn all the designs of your foes against you!

Believe that I will fill my characters in your experience, as your Savior, Brother, Friend!

Believe that I will fulfill my word to you; every promise, the largest, the kindest — "for Heaven and earth shall pass away — but my word shall not pass away, until all be fulfilled."

"Let not your heart therefore be troubled. It does not befit you as My redeemed child. It is injurious to you. It dishonors me. It can do no good. Therefore watch against it, as against a foe! Pray against it, that you may have grace to overcome it. Strive against it, for it is your duty. Always view worry as an evil, as an evil which it is possible to overcome. View it as . . .
inconsistent with your profession,
as injurious to your soul,
as dishonoring to your God."

There is no cause for you to be troubled, for your God performs all things for you. It is inconsistent for you to be troubled, for your Savior has bequeathed you His peace. It is sinful for you to be troubled, for you are bidden to cast all your care upon the Lord, and are assured that He cares for you. All your worry will not change the color of a hair, will not weaken the power of one foe, will not lighten a single burden — it is therefore folly — as well as sin!

The remedy is before you. It was prescribed by the great Physician; it has proved effectual in innumerable instances; it is just suited to you, it was intended for you! Will you use it, and prove its beneficial effect?

Remember Jesus, that Jesus who . . .
lived
for you,
labored
for you,
suffered
for you,
died
for you,
rose
for you, and
is now in Heaven pleading for you —
says, "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God — believe also in Me!"

Be still, my heart —  these anxious cares,
To you are burdens, thorns, and snares;
They cast dishonor on your Lord,
And contradict his precious Word!

Did ever trouble yet befall
And He refuse to hear your call?
And Has he not His promise past,
That you shall overcome at last?

He who has help'd me hitherto.
Will help me all my journey through,
And give me daily cause to raise
New Ebenezers to His praise!

 

The Savior's Will

"For a will is in force only after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives." Hebrews 9:17

People who have property and riches, in the prospect of death, have long been in the habit of making a will, and bequeathing their riches, according to their pleasure, among their relations and friends. The will of the dead is considered sacred, and the executors are expected to perform their duty with fidelity and care.

The Lord Jesus Christ being in possession of unsearchable riches, and intending to bestow them upon a variety of classes of character; before he left this world to go unto the Father — made a will, and has left behind him a will containing legacies of incalculable value! These legacies are payable upon application at the proper court, to each and every person entitled to them. The characters entitled are described, and the blessings to which they are entitled are stated with great clearness and perspicuity. The will is now put into our hands that we may . . .
make out our claim,
apply for the blessings, and
enjoy the blessings-to the praise of him who has blessed us in his will.

1. The first class of beneficiaries, are those who have been guilty of crimes against the law, government, and majesty of God — who deserve to die, who are under sentence of death, and exposed to eternal wrath! All such characters discovering this to be their true condition, feeling alarm at their danger, and being willing frankly to confess their crimes — are promised a free, full, and everlasting PARDON!

Jesus purchased a right to pardon, and in his will expresses his determination to give the pardons which he procured — to the vilest of the vile! If any man reflecting upon his conduct, surveying his thoughts, and examining his heart — finds that he has been a traitor from the beginning, and that even now his heart is the dwelling place of every abomination — yet even to such, a free pardon is promised upon confession! Through the infinite grace of the testator unto all such, is proclaimed "forgiveness of sins, and by Him, all who believe are justified from all things!" He says, "I will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have sinned against me! He who confesses and forsakes his sin — shall find mercy!"

He is Faithful and Just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness! He has willed the pardon, and it shall be enjoyed upon application — not on account of anything felt, feared, or done by the applicant — but solely out of his great love, rich mercy, and sovereign favor!

Are you then, my reader — a poor, sinful, wretched, condemned sinner? Are you filled with fears of Hell, and trembling at the wrath of God? Are you desirous of escaping the curse, and enjoying the favor of Jehovah? Are you willing, heartily to confess your guilt, and his justice in your condemnation? If so, then you are one of the people named in the will of Jesus, there is a certain pardon for you!

But do not give way to fear or doubt, nothing can be plainer than that you are warranted to expect to be forgiven all trespasses for Jesus' sake! The Father honors the will of Jesus — when he pardons such as you; and the Spirit glorifies the Savior when he delivers that pardon to the praying soul!

2. Another class of beneficiaries, are those who are stripped of self, and find themselves wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. To them — Jesus wills the gift of his perfect RIGHTEOUSNESS! He labored to fulfill the precept of the law, and died to pay its penalty; that he might produce a righteousness which would justify God in justifying an ungodly sinner. This righteousness is infinitely glorious, and answers all the claims of law and justice! It honors the divine government, and exalts the possessor to glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life! It is all that the law can demand, and just what a sinner needs.

This righteousness was Jesus' own working, and was therefore his own personal property — and he wills to every ungodly sinner who believes on his name. His Father is well-pleased with it, and has agreed that it shall be imputed to all, and be worn by all who have believe, without any difference.

This garment which is ever new, always available, and the perfection of beauty — is freely bestowed upon all who renounce their own good works — and are willing to venture entirely, and without reserve, upon Jesus' word and work, for life and salvation. But it is only willed to the naked, the poor, and the destitute; and it is willed to all such. If you therefore feel that you are destitute of a righteousness; discover the absolute necessity of one for justification before God; and hunger and thirst for this blessing, as the hungry man for food — then for you it is intended, and to you it will certainly be given! You shall receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, that you may reign in life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Only believe — and this legacy is yours!

3. If any are troubled in mind on account of sin, or distressed with the perplexing circumstances of this earthly life, and make application in his name at the throne of grace — unto them Jesus has left the legacy of PEACE. "Peace I leave with you — My peace I give unto you." Tranquility of mind, flows from . . .
receiving his work,
believing his word, and
entrusting all our concerns to his care.

He invites us to commit all unto him by faith, in prayer — and to leave all with him — as with a wise, kind, and faithful friend. And so acting, he assures us that peace passing all understanding shall keep our hearts and minds. He does not wish that any who believe in him — should be anxious, distrustful, or troubled with cares. He therefore provided for all their needs beforehand — and appointed every day's portion according to the day; and requires them to live and walk by faith; believing that he can and will supply all of their needs.

He bids them not to worry about food, clothing, or life; nor to look forward to tomorrow with alarm, or fear; but to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, with the assurance that every necessary good shall be added unto them. To set their hearts at rest — He has willed them a sufficiency for every day and all their days! This enables them to rejoice in God, and in all things to aim primarily at his glory.

Is his word true? Then it ought to be trusted!

Is he faithful? Then we ought not to doubt!

Was he ever proved false? Why then should we fear?

He will keep in perfect peace — all whose minds are stayed on him, because they trust in him.

Jesus is over all, possesses all, rules all, and directs all! And he bids us to cast all of our cares for body and soul, for time and eternity — on him; assuring us that he will care for us. He gave his life for us — and he will not withhold one good thing from us! He will give us his peace — and we receive the legacy and enjoy it, to the praise of his grace.

4. To those who feel weak, timid, and fearful; those who have . . .
foes
to face,
difficulties
to encounter,
corruptions
to mortify,
temptations
to resist,
trials
to endure, and
troubles
to pass through

 — he has left this valuable legacy, "My GRACE is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness." His grace, his strength — are to be employed for us, and to be used by us. The same grace which made Paul what he was, and by which all the martyrs triumphed — is left as a legacy to us! The legacy is payable Now, and the proclamation from the high court of Heaven runs thus, "Come boldly to the throne of grace — that you may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need!" His grace enables you . . .
to conquer foes — sin, Satan, world and self;
to overcome difficulties — however numerous or peculiar;
to resist temptations — however powerful, well-timed, or deceitful;
to endure trials — with fortitude, courage and patience; and
to pass through troubles — without fear or distrust.

All things are possible to grace — and grace is willed to us! By grace, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. We can do nothing good, or acceptable to God — without grace! But we can do all things — through Christ strengthening us! Our strength lies in absolute dependence on the word, presence, power, and faithfulness of God! Our weakness and falls are from that spirit of independence which at first led man from God, and constantly prompts us to endeavor to do without him.

If we abide in Jesus, if we venture, trusting only to the power of a present God — we cannot fail! But though as strong as Samson, if we venture at anything alone — we shall fall as foully as Samson did. It is not by human might, that the Christian runs the race set before him — but it is by the Spirit of the Lord Almighty!

Grace is willed to us by Jesus, and Jehovah will give grace and glory; and no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. He has willed to all of his family, "All things which pertain to life and godliness."

No man is required to live godly at his own expense; everything necessary is prepared, promised, and bestowed by Jesus. A godly life is a life of self-denial, and dedication to the Lord; his person is to be daily offered up as a sacrifice to God. His private interests are merged in the interests of his beloved Lord. It is for him to exhibit to the world — the Spirit and graces of his Savior, and thus live to his glory, who died for his sin. All spiritual blessings, and every temporal mercy which is necessary — is bequeathed to him! Seeking the Lord, he shall not lack any good thing. His Heavenly Father knew what he would need — and provided for him accordingly; and Jesus has assured him that applying to the Father in his name — he will bestow needed grace upon him.

We apply for what Jesus purchased, and receive by grace, all that God has promised. Our present portion of temporals may be scanty — but it is sufficient; and better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great revenues without it. The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.

Our Savior in his wisdom has apportioned to his people enough, enough for their real welfare — though perhaps not enough to gratify their pride, or please their carnal imagination. He teaches us both how to abound and how to suffer need. He either sanctifies our poverty — or gives us more. He gives more grace, he gives liberally and upbraids not.

We are traveling to the place which the Lord our God has promised us, and we only need our traveling expenses; and these we shall assuredly receive! And if our fare is coarse, our bed hard, our habitation uncomfortable, and our society unpleasant — it can be so but for a little while, for soon the command will come, "Arise and depart — for this is not your rest — for it is polluted!"

5. Finally, our Lord has willed us an INHERITANCE, which is incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading! It is laid up in Heaven for us. It is a house not made with hands, in a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. It is an eternal weight of glory. To introduce us to our inheritance — he will come himself! And to satisfy us with it — he will abide with us forever!

One branch of his will runs thus, "Father, I will that those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."

In this inheritance, all will be purity, peace, activity, and glory! Jesus will be forever honored, and we shall be forever delighted and satisfied! Our sun will no more go down, neither will our moon withdraw itself — for the Lord shall be our everlasting light, and the days of our mourning shall be ended. The people shall be all righteous, and they shall inherit the land forever, that Jehovah may be glorified!

To this we are fast hastening, every moment brings us nearer! So shall we allow ourselves to be much affected, by any of the trials along the way? Shall we be much cast down, on account of the difficulties of the road? Rather, let us lift up our heads rejoicing — for our redemption draws near. We have willed to us an immeasurable and eternal inheritance — and we are on the road to take possession of it! Let us then be sober and vigilant, that we may be found of our Lord in peace, without spot and blameless. Let us . . .
submit to his wisdom;
walk by his directions;
depend on his veracity; and
imitate those who through faith and patience, now inherit the promises.

In a very little while — Jesus will come back for us!

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is!" 1 John 3:1-2.

 

In Word and in Power

"Our gospel came to you not simply with words — but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." 1 Thessalonians 1:5

The purposes of God are accomplished in the use of means; and while God's rule is his purpose — our rule is the precepts of his word. In attending to duty, we expect the Lord to accomplish his will. We are commanded to preach the gospel to every creature, and it is our duty to do so; and while we are doing so, God accompanies it with power to the hearts of his elect. In this way, Paul knew that the Thessalonians were elected of God, as he states, "Our gospel came to you not simply with words — but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction."
 

The Privilege Conferred. The gospel was sent unto them. The gospel is good news — good news from God — good news from God to every creature. It is the good news of salvation — of salvation for sinners — salvation for sinners which is all of grace. It is a salvation which prevents all penal evils — and secures all real, spiritual, and everlasting good. Paul calls it our gospel, because he was entrusted with it, he was commissioned, to proclaim it, he knew the power, savor, and sweetness of it in his own soul, and he preached it to others. This gospel he carried to Thessalonica, and preached it with much success, so that many were converted, a church of Christ was formed, and others were raised up to spread it further.
 

The Difference Made in its Reception.

It came to ALL as a message from God, and it was delivered to all without distinction.

To SOME in word only, as a fact to be believed, as a message to be received and acted upon, and as a subject commending itself to the understanding, the conscience, and the heart.

But it came to OTHERS in power. There was a divine agent secretly working — even the Holy Spirit. There was an all-conquering energy put forth — even the power of God. There was a glorious effect produced — even a full persuasion of its truth and authority, of its high and infinite importance, and of its adaptation to their circumstances and needs. In consequence of this:
they cordially embraced it, with all readiness of mind;
they acted upon it, exercising faith in Jesus;
they were transformed by it, into the moral likeness of God;
and were filled with joy and peace in believing.

This proved to the apostle that they were chosen to salvation, so that he could say, "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God."

See, God's sovereignty. He sends a message to all — to every creature. A message full of love and mercy. He proposes and presents Christ to all and to each one who hears the gospel. He equally and alike invites all to come, receive, and enjoy salvation.

But he sends the Spirit to some — in whom he exerts his secret power, in consequence of which they not only listen to the message — but embrace the offered blessing, and are saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.

See, why the gospel succeeds. Not because a certain class of men preach it, or because it is preached in any particular way; though the Spirit generally makes use of the most suitable means; but because the power of the Holy Spirit attends it! This irresistible power . . .
quickens the soul,
opens the eyes of the understanding,
and awakens the slumbering conscience.

There is an alarm felt in consequence of sin — the wrath of God is feared, and a dread of damnation fills the soul. Now the gospel appears just adapted to the sinner's case, and the Lord Jesus becomes the great object of desire. The soul feels a sweet all-persuasive influence prompting it to embrace the gospel, receive Christ, and be reconciled to God. The conquering power exerted subdues the enmity of the heart, overcomes the prejudices of the mind, and at length brings the soul into subjection to the obedience of Christ.

The influence exerted, resembles the influence of light on flowers, or the thaw on frozen gardens, or the sun's rays on wax or ice. Gently, quietly, and gradually — the heart is changed; and the change of the heart soon appears in the life, as here, "You turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God — and you became imitators of us."

See, what we should especially pray for. We have the gospel, we have our ministers, and we have our sanctuaries; but one thing is still lacking — it is "the power of the Spirit of God." The gospel will have an effect without the Spirit — for it will be "a savor of death unto death." But the effect we desire to see, even the conversion of sinners, the sanctification of believers, the edification of the body of Christ, and the subjecting of the world to Christ — never will be, never can be — without "the power of the Holy Spirit."

For the presence and power of the Spirit to accompany the word — we should earnestly, constantly, and unitedly pray. On this blessing our hearts should be set, to obtain this blessing all the saints should unite, and until we receive this blessing, we should give God no rest.

Reader, how do you feel on this point? Has the gospel been attended with the power of the Holy Spirit to your own soul? Are you very desirous that the same power should attend it to others? Do you cry mightily to God that the power of the Spirit may attend the gospel — be it preached by whom it may?

 

ANTIDOTES!

My mind is at times harassed with fear, tormented with doubts, and burdened with a load of guilt. I have tried a variety of things in order to get relief, and have looked for deliverance in many ways. But experience has taught me, that the only way to conquer fear, dissipate doubts, and remove a burden of fresh-contracted guilt — is to look back to the cross! There, I see Jesus as the Sinner's Substitute, bearing our sins, in his own body on the tree, paying all the debt we had contracted, answering all the demands that can be made upon us, harmonizing all the perfections of God in our salvation, and providing a free and full salvation for us. As I look on the cross — I feel peace flow into my soul, and a holy quietness take possession of my spirit.

I ask, "What should I fear? Jesus has made a full atonement for all my sins. He has given full satisfaction, to the law and justice of God, for all my misdeeds.

Why should I doubt? God is love, or he would not have given his Son to die the just for the unjust. Having given his Son, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself — will he not deal graciously with me, and freely give me all things?

Why should I carry a load of guilt? Has not Jesus been punished for me, that I may not be punished? Did not Jesus die, that I may live forever? Is not the atonement of God's own Son sufficient? Does not the blood of Jesus cleanse from all sin? If Jesus suffered for me, if he died in my stead — then surely I may go free.

Thus looking back to the cross, and exercising faith in Jesus, I find my fears depart, my doubts remove, and my sense of guilt taken away. I have peace with God, confidence in God, and can leave all things with God.
 

Sometimes I feel sad and lonely. I have no one to whom I can open my heart, or into whose ear I can pour all my complaints. I need one who has a fellow feeling with me. One who has experienced what I do. One who can stoop to and help me. At such times I find it best to look up to the throne of grace, and sigh for fellowship with Jesus. He has been tried in all points like as we are. He has a human heart. He has carried the experience of earth, with him to Heaven. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He is our brother still. He remembers the lonely mountain, the howling wilderness, and the gloomy garden. He never forgets how he felt the need of sympathy, and friendly fellowship, when he went backwards and forwards to his disciples, and found them sleeping. I will therefore lift up my eyes to Jesus in the Heavens, and will seek to pour out my heart before him, and receive comfort and consolation from him. I have always one who feels for me, and feels with me. One that will listen to me, and prove his love by sustaining, cheering, and delivering me.

O Jesus, Savior of my soul, when I look up to you, and believe that you are before the Father for me, and ever sympathize with me — I feel relieved, and the principal sense of loneliness and isolation leaves me! O my soul, whenever earth refuses to furnish you with a companion, a comforter, a friend who can identify himself with you — look up to Heaven, for Heaven will furnish what earth denies!
 

"Why should any living man complain?" Lamentations 3:39. Occasionally, I am tempted to complain of my hard lot — and think myself harshly dealt with. Ingratitude rises and works in my heart. This always makes me wretched. I then find it profitable to look down into Hell — and realize its horrors and agonies as my just desert.

If anyone ever deserved to go to Hell — I did!

If justice was ever honored in a sinner's damnation — it would have been in mine!

If anyone was ever saved by grace alone — I am the man!

Shall I then, who deserve to be in Hell — but am not; shall I who am an heir of Heavenly glory — though no one ever deserved it less; shall I, because of a few trials, troubles, and disappointments, or because I have rather a heavy cross to carry — shall I dare to murmur, or fret, or complain, or think myself harshly dealt with?

Shocking inconsistency! What are my present pains or sufferings — compared with the Hell that I deserve!

All the afflictions that I am called to endure here on earth — cannot even be compared with only twenty-four hours in Hell! And yet my desert is, not to be in Hell for a few hours — but forever! Surely every lost soul, every damned spirit — will be ready to rise up in judgment against me — if I complain of my present lot! What base gratitude — if I do not praise the Lord with joyful lips, for His rich, free, and sovereign grace!

O my soul, whenever tempted to complain of my difficult lot — think of my deservings! Think of what would have been my eternal doom — if God had not saved me by His sovereign grace! Yes, I do find that looking down into Hell . . .
silences my complaints,
awakens my gratitude, and
humbles me in the dust before my God! 

Now and then, I get weary and ready to faint along the long and difficult way. The journey appears so long, the road is so rough, the seasons are so trying, the difficulties increase so fast — and my strength and courage are so small. Every little trouble is magnified — and numberless mercies are overlooked! Then I find it of advantage to look forward to — the heavenly crown promised, the glorious mansion provided, and the eternal kingdom prepared. O what a splendid close to this dreary pilgrimage! O what a finish to this exhausting race!

A heavenly crown — and a crown for the likes of me! A crown of life, a crown of righteousness! A crown of glory which fades not away.

A mansion — a glorious residence in my Heavenly Father's house. A residence fitted up by Jesus expressly for me. A residence which anticipates all my wishes, gratifies all my desires, and far exceeds my highest expectations!

An eternal kingdom — and a kingdom prepared to express God's highest love, to display God's deepest wisdom, and to exhibit the exuberant riches of God's glorious grace!

Heaven! Oh, what will Heaven be! The vision of God. The presence of Jesus! "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand!" Psalms 16:11

Heaven! Oh, what I shall see, hear, feel, and possess in Heaven! "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined — what God has prepared for those who love him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

Looking forward to Heaven — how can I do otherwise than pant for glory? What are the trials along the way — when I think of the end! What are the sorrows of earth — when I think of the joys of Heaven! What are my sufferings for Christ — when compared with the glory which shall be conferred by Christ!

May I, whenever depressed and disconsolate, whenever disheartened and cast down, whenever sad or sorrowful — look forward to the eternal rest which remains for the people of God — to the glorious inheritance promised, to that eternal city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. O the glory, the glory — which awaits the way-worn pilgrim, the toil-worn laborer, the exhausted sufferer in the cause of Christ! 

And is it not the province and prerogative of faith to act thus? Does not faith ever look BACK to the cross of Jesus — for pardon, peace, and reconciliation to God? Does it not look UP to the throne of God — and sigh for fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ? Does it not look DOWN into the eternal pit, the prison, the torments, from which there is no redemption — in order to fill the soul with gratitude, love, and praise? Does it not also look FORWARD to the unfading crown, the eternal kingdom, and the glorious inheritance — and inspire with hallowed pantings for glory? Yes, it is even so!

Then, O gracious God, increase my faith, and help me to look BACK to Jesus crucified for me — that I may enjoy unspeakable peace, and solid satisfaction of soul!

Help me to look UP to your throne — that I may enjoy the closest, the sweetest, the most hallowed fellowship with you possible!

Help me to look DOWN to the gloomy regions of despair, the abode of misery and woe — that I may be grateful for my deliverance from such a fearful doom!

Help me to look FORWARD to the glory, the splendor, the unspeakable bliss — which is laid up for all who love you, and look for the appearing of your Son.

May my faith be strong, simple, and rightly directed. May it be influential and work by love. May it grow exceedingly, and be found unto your praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Author of faith — work faith in me! Object of faith — be ever present with me! End of faith — let me embrace you, and rejoice in you forever!

 

Consistent Teaching

"You, then, who teach others — do you not teach yourself?" Romans 2:21

We all need teaching; but, generally speaking, we love to teach — rather than to be taught. We instruct others — but neglect ourselves. This is true of preachers and Bible teachers especially. The language of Paul may be addressed to many of us, "You, then, who teach others — do you not teach yourself?" Let us endeavor for once to be impartial, and look at this point closely, soberly, and seriously.

You teach others to be temperate — but indulge yourself far beyond what nature requires! A variety of fine dishes must be provided, and, if positive gluttony is avoided — conscience has learned to be silent.

If two invitations are given — one to plain and poor meal, where the spare time will be taken up in prayer and godly conversation; and another to a sumptuous table, where gossip and entertainment will engage the attention — which will be preferred? "You, then, who teach others — do you not teach yourself?" "

You teach others self-denial — but do not practice the same yourself. Others are exhorted to make sacrifices — to work for God — to earn, that they may give, to give even out of their poverty. But the teacher is paid for all that he does, and gives little or nothing. Not a journey does he take — without some remuneration; not a sacrifice does he make, not a power does he overtax. He talks freely, urges warmly, illustrates eloquently, argues fervently; but he is ranked among some whom our Lord addressed, "They do not practice what they preach." Reader, is this at all like you? "You, then, who teach others — do you not teach yourself?"

You teach others to be humble; but is humility your characteristic? A proud man in the pulpit preaching humility — or a proud teacher in the class teaching humility — what an anomaly! And yet there are such things. They talk about humility; but their general bearing, their conduct towards others, their evident self-importance — proves that they are not humble. They appear to say, "Others should be humble — yet I may be proud. Others should be meek — yet I may be haughty. Others should submit — yet I may resent. Others should forbear — yet I may avenge myself." Or, "Do as I say — not as I do." Can this be right? How must it appear in the eyes of God?

Preacher, teacher, professor — are you proud? Is there the proud look? The haughty manner? The contemptuous sneer? The cold, distant, self-important bearing? Can this be approved by God? Will this pass the scrutiny of the Most High? Will the Holy Spirit fill your heart, or consecrate your body as his temple? Is it any wonder that you meet with no success? "You, then, who teach others — do you not teach yourself?"

You teach activity for God and immortal souls; but relaxation, the parlor, the worthless book, or some vain entertainment — occupies your time and attention. Others should go out into the streets and lanes of the city, and into the highways and hedges; others should visit the sick, relieve the poor, warn the rebellious, expostulate with the backslider, and carry the gospel to every creature. But you have not the tact, the talent, the time — in one word, you have not the disposition! If you would try — there is very much that you could do. Indeed, none of us know what we can do — until we try. The slothful man says, "There's a lion in the streets! If I go outside, I might be killed!" A likely thing — "A lion in the streets!" No, no! It is laziness, it is sloth and the love of ease in the heart. Be active yourself, or say nothing about it. Never blame others, unless you set them the example. "You, then, who teach others — do you not teach yourself?"

You teach, it may be, close walking with God; but, like Peter, you follow afar off yourself. What! is it good for others to get near to God, to live as under his eye, to speak always as within his hearing, and to endeavor to commend themselves to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator — and can it be well for you to live at a distance, to forget his presence, to speak as if he heard you not, and to walk as though he regarded not your conduct?

Many talk of close walking — who know but little about it. They are seldom closeted with God. They realize but little of his presence. They receive but few communications from him. They are but seldom thirsting for his presence. Alas! the frivolous conversation, the worldly spirit, the careless manner, and the lack of conformity to God — tell a tale which cannot be well misunderstood! You who urge others to walk closely with God — do you not teach yourself?

You teach also the importance of gospel ordinances; but are they prized by you? Do you frequent the prayer-meeting and the weekly sermon? Or, will a little weariness, a short distance, or a slight indisposition — satisfy your conscience as furnishing a sufficient excuse for your absence? If gospel ordinances are important, let them be treated with respect, and be observed with punctuality.

Have you been baptized on a profession of your faith? Why not? Do you regularly attend at the Lord's table? Is your place in the sanctuary regularly occupied? If ordinances are means of grace — do you not need grace? If you need grace, ought you not regularly to use the means through which grace is communicated? If you do not regularly use the means — is it not evident that you do not desire the grace that you need? If you teach at all — you should teach the value and importance of gospel ordinances; but if you do so teach — you ought to be very careful to corroborate by your conduct — what you teach with your tongue. "You, then, who teach others — do you not teach yourself?"

You teach that a man should be prepared for death, or stand ready for the coming of his Lord. But are you prepared to die? Are you ready, if the Bridegroom should come? Are you watching, waiting, and working? Do you live above the world, distinct from the world — aiming always to glorify God in the world? Is your hope laid up in Heaven? Can you prove that your treasure is there, because your hearty hopes and affections are there? Are you like the loving bride — who sighs, desires, and longs for the return of her beloved bridegroom? Are you looking for that blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of the great God our Savior, Jesus Christ? Or, are you living for the world, pleased with the world, scraping together the yellow dust of the world, and feeling the greatest reluctance to leave the world? Would the news of the Lord's coming today, or tomorrow — be unpleasant to you? Search, look, and allow me to ask, "You, then, who teach others — do you not teach yourself?"

Dear brethren, this subject requires the most solemn and serious consideration. How can we teach others consistently — if we do not teach ourselves, so as to practice what we teach?

How can we reprove others for gluttony — if we take as much or more ourselves?

How can we preach "owe no man anything" — if we contract debts and neglect to pay them?

How can we urge others to be meek and lamb-like — if we are passionate and roar like lions?

How can we exhort others to self-denial — if we indulge ourselves in pampering our appetites, in costly apparel, in expensive journeys, and unnecessary furniture?

How can we reprove others for inactivity — if we are dull, lifeless, and dronish?

How can we urge others to liberality — if we are close-fisted, covetous, and lovers of filthy lucre ourselves?

In a word, how can we reprove any sin — if we ourselves indulge in it!

How can we exhort to any duty — if we ourselves neglect it!

How can we urge to the attainment of any excellence — if we disregard it ourselves!

How can we be of much use, either to the world or the church — unless we ourselves live up to our profession?

"You, then, who teach others — do you not teach yourself?"

Holy Spirit! come down in all the fullness of your power upon all our pastors, preachers, and teachers — and so sanctify, influence, and transform us — that we may teach what is truth, and practice what we teach; and conform our lives to our profession — for the dear Redeemer's sake. Amen.

 

PAUL'S SUBJECT 

Paul was . . .
an extraordinary man,
called to an extraordinary office,
and being sent to perform an extraordinary work,
he chose an extraordinary subject.

He knew history,
he was acquainted with philosophy, and
he was well versed in tradition.

There were . . .
few subjects that he could not handle,
few themes that he could not discuss,
few congregations that he could not interest.

But he made the conversion of sinners the object of his life—and he chose Christ crucified to be the subject of his ministry! No matter where he went—he took his subject with him. No matter whom he addressed—he directed their attention to this point.

He knew what man required—and what man preferred; but it made no matter to him. As he wrote to the Corinthians, so he always acted, "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified—a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God!" 1 Corinthians 1:22-24  

Paul's subject then, was Christ Crucified! Christ was God's anointed, the Messiah, the Son of God! Christ was the promised Savior, who came to destroy the works of the devil! Christ the anointed Son of God—was put to the most cruel, shameful, and degrading death—he was crucified, and he was put to this death—that he may he a sacrifice for our sins, expiating them, and putting them away forever! He died as the Substitute of His people, as the Surety, who had engaged to discharge their debt, and as the conquering Savior putting all His foes to flight.

Blessed Jesus, you were the representative of your people, the victim of their transgressions, and the sacrifice for their sins! Your blood was the price paid for their ransom; and your resurrection secured their discharge!

O my soul, look to Jesus—as crucified for your sins!

Think of Jesus—as dying in your stead!

Speak of Jesus—as full of grace and love! 

Paul CHOSE this subject—and he had good reasons for doing so!

First, it is a most comprehensive subject,
for it is the center where . . .
time and eternity,
God and man,
sin and holiness,
life and death—meet!

It is the theater where God . . .
displays His perfections,
unfolds His purposes,
maintains His rights,
confounds His foes, and
secures His glory!

It is the instrument by which . . .
death
is destroyed,
sin
is conquered,
rebels
are reconciled,
saints
are sanctified, and
heaven
is opened!

It is an object which . . .
confounds reason,
astonishes angels,
attracts sinners,
imparts holiness, and
furnishes matter for endless praise!

Second, it is the most honored subject.
It tunes the harps of heaven.
It fills the sweetest songs on earth.
It is that by which the Holy Spirit works . . .
  in the conversion of sinners,
  in the consolation of saints,
  in the sanctification of believers, and
  in the establishment of the church of God.

By the preaching of Christ crucified . . .
the oracles of the heathen were silenced,
the altars of the heathen were cast down, and
the temples of the heathen were transformed into houses of prayer.

By the preaching of the cross . . .
society
is elevated,
nations
are honored, and
millions
are snatched from Hell.

Third, it is a subject that is intensely hated!
Devils
hate it, and try to prevent its publication.
Erroneous men hate it, and try to substitute something of their own for it. And just in proportion as men are influenced by the prince of darkness, or yield to the pride of their own fallen natures—will they hate the doctrine of the cross!

But all Christians love it,
all the ministers of Christ glory in it,
all poor perishing sinners need it!

The more we know of God's nature and government—the more we see of man's natural state and condition; and the more we feel of our own weakness and depravity—the more shall we prize and value the doctrine of the cross. Christ, and him crucified shall be . . .
the subject of my ministry,
the theme of my songs,
the joy of my heart, and
the foundation of my everlasting hope!

Christians—WHAT do we preach?
We are ALL preachers—and we preach daily!
But do we preach Christ?
Do we speak of him with our tongues?
Do we write of him with our pens?
Do we honor him with our lives?
Is Christ and His glory, the grand end and aim of our life?

WHY do we preach Christ?
Is it out of love to Him?
Is it that we may do good to souls?
Is it that we may please God?

Christ crucified should be preached by every Christian.
Christ crucified should be preached in all companies.
Christ crucified should be preached every day.

Beloved,
if we would save souls from death,
if we would rescue sinners from eternal misery,
if we would make believers happy,
if we would cover Satan with shame,
if we would deprive death of its sting,
and if we would make the road to glory plain—
we must preach Christ crucified;
we must exercise faith in Christ crucified;
and we must daily meditate on Christ crucified!

May Christ and His cross be all my theme!

May Christ and His cross be all my hope!

May Christ and His cross be all my joy!

Cross of Jesus! Jesus crucified!

To you would I look in life—and all its troubles!

To you would I look in death—and all its pangs!

To you would I look in glory—when filled with all its joys!

"God forbid, that I should glory, except in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ!"

 

Contentment

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13

Man is a poor discontented creature. He is never satisfied for long. Whatever he has — he wants something that he has not. And if he had all that he could desire — he would rack his mind to find out something to wish for, and be dissatisfied about. Sin is the source of all dissatisfaction — the parent of all discontent.

But if lost sinners are discontented — believers ought not to be. They are commanded to be content with such things as they have. They are exhorted, having food and clothing, therewith to be content. But, alas! many Christians know but little of real contentment. Now, if I can pen a few lines, which with God's blessing, would produce or increase contentment in my own heart, and the hearts of a few of my fellow believers — I shall do good. Let me then look up to the Lord, and beseech him to give me grace, to enable me to do so, to the praise and glory of his holy name.

Fellow traveler to Zion, are you contented with the lot your God has cast for you? Or, are you complaining, sighing, and uselessly wishing for a change? If the latter — then stop complaining, and listen for a few moments to me.

Consider what God is to you. Is he not your God in Jesus? Is he not your Heavenly Father? Does he not love you with an everlasting love? Has he not ordained and arranged all your affairs for you in his infinite wisdom? Has he not also assured you, that all things work together for your good? And under such circumstances — must it not be wicked to complain, repine, or be discontented?

Then, consider what Christ has done for you. Has he not put away your sins, by the sacrifice of himself? Has he not provided you with a glorious, an everlasting righteousness? Has he not promised to be with you always, even unto the end? Is he not now pleading for you in Heaven, and preparing a place for you in his Father's house? Has he not also given you his Word, that he will come again, and receive you unto himself, that where he is, there you may be also? Is this the case — and you discontented? O for shame!

Consider what eternity will be to you. Eternity, a state of endless existence, what will it be to the believer? It will be . . .
light — without darkness;
joy — without sorrow;
health — without sickness;
pleasure — without pain;
triumphs — without trials;
and life — without death.

In eternity, you will . . .
receive all that you desire,
enjoy all that you can wish,
be where you will be perfectly happy, and
possess
all that your God can give.

Set then eternity — against time, the future — against the present, and blush if you feel the least dissatisfaction with your lot.

Consider the providence that watches over you. Providence is . . .
God's eye fixed upon you,
God's mind devising for you,
God's heart sympathizing with you,
God's hand supplying you,
God's arm placed beneath you.

You are the especial care, of a special and particular providence, which . . .
numbers the very hairs of your head,
watches every step you take, and
will overrule everything for your eternal welfare.

Child of providence, child of the God of providence — be content!

Consider the design which God has, in trying you. It is to prevent your falling into the evils produced by fullness of bread, or uninterrupted prosperity. It is to produce humility, or faith, or some other grace — which will adorn your character, count on your future history, and bring honor to his dear name. God's design in every pain or privation, in every trial and trouble, in every loss and cross — is worthy of himself.

All flows from divine love.

All is directed by infinite wisdom.

All is designed for your good.

Ought you not then to be thankful!

Consider the consequences of prosperity to many. How it . . .
feeds their pride,
inflates them with vanity, and
binds them to the present world.

In the closet, they are lifeless;
in the sanctuary uninterested;
in Christian society, uncomfortable;
and when thinking of death, unhappy.

They have . . .
little spirituality,
little gratitude to God, and
but little comfort in their own souls.

They do little good, have little fellowship with God, and are very unlike the Lord Jesus Christ. Would you wish to be like them?

Consider why the Spirit is given to you. It is to . . .
fortify you against fear,
strengthen you in every trouble, and
conform you to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Spirit is given to you . . .
to lead you to Christ,
to teach you to make use of Christ, and
to instruct you how to bring honor and glory to Christ.

The Spirit is given to you to . . .
unfold and apply the promises,
help your infirmities in prayer, and
cry, Abba Father, in your heart.

The Spirit is to do all within you — as the Lord Jesus has done all without you. Then, sow to the Spirit, live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit — and discontent will flee away; joy, peace, and gratitude, will fill your soul; and your life will be as happy, as it is often uncomfortable now.

Or, consider God's decree, which fixed your lot, and did so for the wisest and best of reasons. His decree is so fixed, that all your struggling, fretting, and complaining, will not alter it.

Consider Christ's example, who chose the poor man's place; and who was poorer than you are, more tried than you are, and who suffered far more than you can. Yet he never complained. No one ever heard a word tinged with discontent proceed from his lips; and he is the copy you are to imitate, the example you are to follow.

Consider the gracious promises. Promises . . .
of God's presence,
of God's care, and
of God's assistance.

Promises made to . . .
banish fears,
excite your gratitude, and
inspire you with holy confidence.

Promises which secure to you, all that is necessary for the present life  — and of that which is to come.

Consider the condition of the primitive saints. Where you have one trial — they had fifty. Where they had one outward comfort — you have a hundred. They were many of them homeless, friendless, and oppresed. To them, earth was a wilderness, life only a series of trials; and death, or the coming of Jesus, alone afforded them hope of deliverance. Look at them hidden in dens and caves of the earth, clothed in goat skins, or sheep skins, wandering about from place to place — destitute, afflicted, tormented!

Consider of your deserts. What have you merited? What have you deserved? Can you claim one comfort, one privilege, one exemption from suffering on the ground of desert? Or, if you had only your desert — would you have . . .
a rag to cover you,
a morsel to feed you,
a drop to refresh you,
a shed to shelter you,
a law to protect you,
a friend to speak to you, or
one ray of hope
to cheer you?

Would you have anything but Hell? The frown of God, the wrath of God, the curse of God, and these forever! Oh, what a dreadful state you would be in, if you had only your deserts!

Consider your future prospects:

DELIVERANCE, perfect deliverance . . .
from every foe and every fear,
from every pain and every privation,
from every trouble and every trial.

POSSESSION, eternal possession . . .
of health and wealth,
of life and liberty,
of God and Heaven,
of Christ and inconceivable glory!

Oh, how bright, how beautiful, how blessed, the prospects of a believer in Jesus are!

Consider, finally, God's glorious designs in all that he does or permits. It is his own glory in connection with your present and everlasting welfare. His designs are always worthy of himself, and he never does anything, or allows anything to be done, which will in any way affect his people — but with a wise, a holy, a gracious design.

How then, can you be discontented . . .
if you believe that God fixed your lot by his immutable decree;
if you keep your eye fixed on Jesus as your example;
if you receive and rest on the great and gracious promises;
if you consider the condition in which primitive saints were placed;
if you think of your own deserts;
if you consider the prospects opening before you;
if you meditate on God's glorious designs in all that happens to you?

I ask, how can you be discontented?

But if discontent should be felt working within you, then as an antidote to this accursed evil, think . . .
of what God is to you;
of what Christ has done for you;
of what eternity will be to you;
of the providence that watches over you;
of the design of God in trying you;
of the painful consequences of prosperity to many;
and of the purposes for which the Holy Spirit is given you.

And, if such considerations fail to make you humble, grateful, and contented — then go to the mercy-seat and confess your sins, mourn over your evil heart, and beseech God to give you more grace — so that your whole soul may be brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.

Gracious God, you have commanded us to be content with such things as we have, because you will never leave us, nor forsake us. We beseech you to give us the grace of contentment, that we may obey your wise and holy command! O, grant that we may not only be content — but grateful. And from a deep sense of your undeserved goodness, and unmerited love — may we praise and bless your glorious name forever!

Holy Spirit, give us such a view of the Hell we have escaped, such a view of the Heaven promised us, and such a view of the price Jesus paid for our ransom — that we may sink into the profound depths of humility, and rise to the highest heights of grateful love!

O Savior, we bless you, we praise you, and we magnify your glorious name, for all you have procured for us, wrought in us, and set before us! And we rejoice that throughout eternity, we shall be still praising you!

 

O That I Had the Wings of a Dove!

"Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest!" Psalm 55:6

The trials of a believer are often severe. Many a storm has he to endure, many a river to ford, and many a fire to pass through — in his way home to the promised land. Little did the Christian think, when he first stepped into the liberty of the gospel, that there were such rough roads, dark nights, and terrible storms before him — but, more or less, every traveler to Mount Zion, must experience them. It is generally found to be a rough road, which leads to the celestial city. Many a Christian has found his courage fail him, and his heart misgive him, on his way home.

The darkness is sometimes so dense,
the cross is at times so heavy,
the disappointment at some seasons is so great —
that the stoutest heart quails, and unites with the timid spirit, in exclaiming, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest!"

These trials are necessary, to . . .
try our sincerity,
exercise our graces, and
render the promises sweet and precious.

When all goes smooth, and everything is pleasant — we attach but little importance to the promises, have little power in prayer, and are too apt to over-value ourselves. But trying times . . .
endear the throne of grace,
strip us of pride and self-importance,
and strengthen our trust in Jesus.

Never is Christ so precious — as in times of peculiar trial. Never is the Bible so valued — as in the day of trouble and distress. The wilderness with its barren burning sands, its storms and tempests, its dangers and its difficulties — endears the promised land; and makes the pilgrim occasionally to cry out, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest!"

Rest! O how sweet is the thought of rest — to the weary, way-worn, exhausted traveler! Rest! O how sweet is the thought of rest — to the afflicted, tried, and tempted Christian! He most generally thinks of Heaven as a place of rest:
rest from suffering,
rest from sorrow,
rest from toil, and
rest from conflict.

Rest with Jesus.

Rest in the home of God.

Rest, perfect and perpetual.

Peaceful and glorious rest.

We have the foretastes of it occasionally now, which makes us at times long for its fullness and perfection. Like the grapes of Eshcol, which when tasted, stimulates us to hasten across the wilderness, that we may take possession of the promised land; so the inward calm, the secret repose, the rest at times enjoyed in the soul — urges us on, and makes us cry out, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest!"

But we may be too anxious to be gone. We may be in too great a hurry to depart. We had therefore better pray for . . .
patience to endure,
and strength to bear,
and courage to face our trials —
than wish for wings to fly from them.

As an old writer says, "Better pray for the strength of an ox — to bear your troubles; than for the wings of a dove — to fly away from them." Even cowardice, or self-love, may prompt us to use the exclamation. Let us, therefore, while we may have a desire to depart and be with Christ as far better for us; remember, that it may be more for the glory of God, for the benefit of others, and even for our own ultimate good — that we remain here. And if so, it is better calmly and patiently to say, "all the days of my appointed time I will wait — until my change comes," than from a desire for self-indulgence to cry out, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest!"

 

The King's Highway

"Set your heart toward the highway." Jeremiah 31:21

In anticipation of the expiration of the seventy years' captivity in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah was directed and inspired by the Holy Spirit, to stimulate, encourage, and direct the Jews in reference to their return to their own land. And among other things he said to them, "Set your heart toward the highway" — the way by which many of them were brought into Babylon, and the way by which all of them must return. Now as there was a highway from Babylon to Zion — so there is a highway from earth to Heaven, and to this I wish now to direct attention.
 

The Object. The highway, that is Jesus — for he is the way, and no man comes to the Father but by him. Now this is the way that just suits sinners, and it is the only way that will suit them.

It suits them, because it is a way in which we can get rid of sin. We no sooner enter on this way, than we get rid of . . .
the guilt of sin from the conscience,
the power of sin from the heart,
the practice of sin from the life, and
the penal consequences of sin from the person.

It is a way in which we acquire a title to property. When a government wishes to colonize, it often offers a grant of property to emigrants, to induce them to leave their native land, and sail for a far-off country. So when we enter upon Christ, the highway to the land of glory — we acquire a title to an inheritance which is incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away.

It is a way in which we find provision made for the entire journey. What Joseph said in reference to his brethren, "Give them provision for the way," Jesus does in reference to all who seek to go to glory by him. Here we find strength and wisdom, comfort and courage, the bread of life, and the waters of salvation! No one can faint by the way, or fail of reaching the end, from lack of provision. There is provision made for us from the first step out of a state of sin, until we step into glory.

There is, in this way, the certainty of a safe arrival. The righteous shall hold on his way. No funeral was ever seen on this highway. No bleached bones of pilgrims who had sunk and perished along the road, were ever seen here. All who enter upon Christ, all who start aright — arrive safe at the journey's end.

O blessed way, where we . . .
get rid of all sin and its consequences,
get an unquestionable title to Heaven,
find plentiful provision for our journey, and
prove that as our day, so is our strength, until we arrive at Mount Zion!

This way is PLAIN, the simplest mind cannot mistake it — it is only believe, trust in Christ alone, venture wholly on Christ — and you shall be saved.

It is a WELL-TRODDEN way, for from the days of righteous Abel until now, pilgrims more or less numerous have trodden this way. Millions have proved it to be suitable, safe, and certain!

It is very often found to be a SHORT way. The thief on the cross found it so, and so have many others. They have stepped out of self on to Christ — and have passed in a very brief space of time, to glory. It is just the way to suit weak, weary, and dying sinners.

It is a FREE way, no toll-booths, no fees, no conditions — all is free. Whoever will, may enter on it, pass along it, and reach the home of the blessed by it.

It is a PUBLIC way — the king's highway. The nobleman may walk with the peasant, and the pauper with the king. The publican and harlot have the same right to use it — as the most chaste and moral. Upright and moral character is not required. Whoever will, may come, and travel unmolested to the heavenly Canaan!

It is a LIVING way. It gives life. It increases life. It ensures life. It introduces to everlasting life. Death never set his foot on it, nor ever will.

It is the ONLY way. By this way, anyone can get to eternal glory — but by no other. By this way, the greatest number, of the greatest sinners, may escape from the wrath to come. But by no other way can anyone reach the promised land. O that it were thronged by perishing souls, hastening from earth to Heaven!
 

The Exhortation. Set your heart toward the highway! Reader, do you need this exhortation? Or, are you on this road? Don't try any bye-path — neither pope nor prelate, priest nor presbyter, ceremony nor sacrament — but come to Christ at once — venture on Christ alone. Direct the eye to this highway — let the heart move in the dirction of it, be sure you enter upon it, persevere in it, and think often of the glorious end to which it leads.

Do not imagine that you are in the way — when you are not. Do not be deceived by a dream. But make sure work of it. In the way — you are safe; but out of it — you are lost forever! Are you willing to leave the Babylon of this world? Many to whom Jeremiah spoke were not willing to leave Babylon of old, and therefore they perished there. Will you start for Mount Zion at once? For what should you wait? Why should you delay? What will you get by it? Rather, what will you lose? If you are willing, listen to the prophets advice, "Set your heart toward the highway!"

Make up your mind then, solemnly, seriously, deliberately make up your mind. Be determined to escape from eternal wrath, to obtain salvation, to find a home in the promised land.

Never rest outside of this way. Do not rest in mere desires, resolves or wishes — but enter upon the way, make thorough work of it.

The entrance is strait and narrow. You must strip, and give up self, sin, and the world — and then you pass through it. There is plenty of room for the sinner, the naked sinner, any naked sinner — but only the naked sinner.

The way is narrow — but it is wide enough for you. Greater sinners than you, have traveled this way, and gone singing from earth to Heaven. As flagrant sinners as you, have entered the strait gate, and journeyed along the narrow way — the grace that enabled them, will enable you. It is only . . .
repent
, or change your mind, which has been to live in sin, reject Christ, and go with the world;
believe
, or venture on Christ, trust in Jesus, commit yourself to him, renouncing all and everything beside;
give God the heart, the whole heart, the heart just as it is! Give it him to cleanse, adorn, and save
 — and thus make a start for eternal glory.

Is there any difficulty finding the way? Be sure you ask of those who know. Take the prophet's representation for your example, "In those days, at that time, the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten."

Imitate Israel in the days of Jeroboam, who withstood the temptation of the King, and "set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel." So you will enjoy the blessing of which David sung, "Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, until each appears before God in Zion!"

Beloved, there is a way . . .
from earth — to Heaven,
from sin — to holiness,
from condemnation — to justification,
from eternal death — to eternal life!

That way is Jesus, to that way you are welcome. In that way you may walk and . . .
find peace with God,
enjoy communion with Jesus,
escape dangers, and
obtain everlasting life.

You will either walk in it — or you will not. If you will not, there is but one other way, and that is the way of eternal death! ""Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it!" Matthew 7:13-14.

Therefore Jesus exhorts in another place. "Strive to enter in at the strait gate" — strive as if in an agony — as if eternal life and eternal glory depended upon it — strive, nor leave off striving, until you are safe through the gate, and traveling in the way to eternal glory!

 

The Cords of Love!

"I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love!" Hosea 11:4

God's love to his people is variously and wondrously displayed. But this is more especially the case, in the manner by which he brings them to himself. He makes Israel the type, in their deliverance from Egypt, and being brought into covenant with himself. In reference to that event, he says, "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love!" And this is the way in which he generally converts souls, brings them to himself, and saves them forever.

The WORK. "I drew them." As he said by Jeremiah, "I have loved you with an everlasting love — therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you." So the Savior testified, "No man can come unto me, except the Father who has sent me draws him." He drew Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness, and through the wilderness into the promised land. Just so, he draws his people OUT from the world, from sin, from self, and from Satan; and they leave all those voluntarily, cheerfully, and forever! He draws them TO himself, as a God of love; as a Father of the fatherless, and as the hope of the lost and miserable; he draws them to his beloved Son, to his cross, his house, and his service. And they rely on his work, unite with his family, and do his will from the heart.

The MANNER in which it was performed.

"I drew them with the cords of a man." That is reasonably — or according to their nature. He gives commands — and so manifests authority. He uses arguments — and so appeals to the judgment. He presents inducements — in order to affect the heart. He addresses the conscience — awakening conviction. He calls his witnesses, he assigns reasons — and so takes away all excuse.

"I drew them with the bands of love." The band is a thick, threefold cord, stronger than the cords of a man. He gives time, he uses means, he bestows favors, he speaks loving words, he performs loving deeds. In this way — he attracts, affects, and wins over the soul to himself. His love works gradually, gracefully — but effectually. By revealing his love to us in Jesus — he does much; but by shedding abroad his love in our hearts — he does more. Many have withstood his terrors — but who can withstand his love?

Observe, it is difficult to detach the soul from the world, from sinful customs, from idolizing self, and from the captivating power of Satan! Yes, it is so difficult, that none but God can do it, and he has to exert not merely "the cords of a man," but the strong "bands of love." Many come reluctantly from the world — to God, from sin and self to — the Savior. It takes years of gentle means — to win some! There are cases, in which the drawing is so gradual, and the pace of the coming soul is so slow — that they can scarcely believe that God has had anything to do with it, and they often write bitter things against themselves in consequence. But if the cord of man will not bring the chosen vessel, the band, shall.

God will not draw in vain. His purpose cannot be frustrated, nor the efforts of his love be lost. In the day of his power, in the power of his love — he will prevail, and no flesh shall glory in his presence!

He draws gently, especially the young, and those who have been piously educated. He often draws gradually, almost imperceptibly — but never in vain! He at length draws right up to the point of conversion — and sin is parted with, the world is forsaken, self is mortified, and Satan is conquered! Then, grace is admired! Then, salvation is prized! Then, Jesus is precious! Then, the soul is free! Then, the peace of God makes the heart happy!

Beloved, have you ever felt "the cords of a man" — the Lord drawing you by arguments, reasons, persuasions, appeals, inducements, and threatenings? Have you yielded to these drawings, and devoted yourself to God? Have you experienced "the bands of love" — the Lord affecting the heart, attracting the attention, and winning you over to himself?

Israel was not more really in slavery in Egypt — than you were in slavery in the world! Israel was not more certainly under the tyranny of Pharaoh — than you were under the tyranny of Satan, sin, and self! It was not more necessary for the Lord to save Israel — than for the Lord to save you!

"The cords of a man," are used when you read the Word, hear the gospel, or are spoken to by Christian friends. And if these are resisted, you are not sure that the Lord will use "the bands of love," or exert the invincible power of his Spirit in your hearts! Yield to the attractions of the cross. Surrender at the call of God. Submit to the authority of the gospel. If you do not — the results will be fearful.

Good and gracious God, let it please you to exert the mighty power of your love, in the reader's heart. If he has not been drawn to Jesus, to your blessed feet — draw him! If he has — draw him nearer and nearer still. O to feel the drawing power of the Holy Spirit daily — drawing us from worldly society, from poring over self, from all that is carnal and fleshly, and bringing us into closer, sweeter, and more blessed fellowship with our covenant God!

 

God is Love!

"God is love!" 1 John 4:16

This is a truth which cannot be learned from nature. For though we see the bright, the beautiful, and the benevolent in nature — we see also the dull, the dreary, and the frightening. If we see the smiles of infancy — we see also the wrinkles of old age. If we hear the laugh of health — we hear also the groans of suffering. Walk through a large hospital; stand on the shore and witness a dreadful shipwreck; or read the horrible details of the ravages of plague, and famine — and who would from these conclude, that God is love.

Neither creation nor providence without the Bible, would teach us that God is love. It is God in Christ — that is love. Here God can speak the most loving words, and wear the most loving smiles. Here he is pure, unmixed, and infinite love; because in Christ, his justice has received satisfaction for man's sin, and his law has been magnified and made honorable. In Christ, God has to ask nothing of man, except that he yield to him his heart, for he has received all that as the moral Governor, and Judge of all — he could require. In Christ he asks us to be friends, beseeches us to be reconciled, offers us the richest, choicest, blessings, and rejoices to do us good.

Look at God in nature — and you see something of his greatness, goodness, and power. Look at God in providence — and you see something of his beneficence, wisdom, and justice. But look at God in Jesus — and you see all of his glorious perfections, and all his divine attributes — but especially you see his LOVE. Love to sinners shines above every other perfection of his nature, and sheds a glorious luster on them all.

Love brought the sinner into Christ. Love prompts us to receive Christ as the sinner's substitute and sacrifice. Love sends us the invitation to come, and be pardoned, justified, sanctified, and saved. Love makes the promises of peace, provision, and eternal life. Love calls to us as children to return and enjoy a father's favor, receive a father's blessing, and be made happy in our father's presence.

All that God does for His children — is in love!

All that he withholds from us — is in love!

And that all he requires of us — is in love!

His precepts are from love — as much as His promises!

His warnings are as much from love — as His invitations!

His prohibitions are as much from love — as His permissions!

His love uses the rod — as well as gives the kiss!

His love withholds — as well as gives!

All, all, is in love! "The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone he accepts as a son!" Hebrews 12:6

"God is love." That is, in Christ, God is love. Let me therefore always look to God in Christ. Let me deal with God in Christ. Let me worship God in Christ. I will admire nature, I will observe providence — but I must know God in his beloved Son. Here is no terror to make me afraid. Here are no judgments to fill me with alarm. In Jesus, I see the Most High God . . .
as the God of peace — speaking peace to coming sinners;
as the God of patience — exercising patience toward weary saints;
as the God of all comfort — comforting those who are cast down;
and as the God of all grace — giving grace and glory to all who apply in the name of Jesus. O sweet and blessed representation of Jehovah! How can I fear a God of love? How can I be justified in complaining of any of his dealings? In Jesus,
all His thoughts, are loving thoughts;
all His words, are loving words; and
all His works, are loving works.

In giving, or withholding — He manifests His love.

In afflicting, or restoring — He alike displays His love.

Every pain, and every pleasure — is from love.

Every storm, and every sunbeam — is from love.

The fruitful shower, and the destroying hurricane — are ruled and overruled by love, for the good of the believer in Jesus.

O my soul, never indulge a hard thought of God. Never listen to Satan's insinuations against God. Never judge of the Lord's ways by your feelings, or by sense; but believe the testimony of his Word, and rejoice in the well proved fact, that "God is Love!" Holy Spirit, give me clearer views of God in Christ, help me so to believe, as always to realize, let whatever will happen, or let my circumstances be what they may, that "God is Love!"

 

The Love of Jesus!

"I have loved you!" John 15:12

WHOM does Jesus love? Every believer, whatever his outward circumstances may be. That is, everyone who loves Him — and are in a measure, like Him. How wonderful that Jesus should love us, who are so viler, so debased, so ungrateful! Yes — and it is fact, and He has proved it in a variety of ways.

He displayed His love BEFORE we knew Him, or were even capable of doing so — in choosing fallen men to be saved — and not the fallen angels. They fell as we did — but their nature was more noble, their fall was from a greater eminence — yet He did not assume their nature to save them — but He became man to save us! And why? He tells us, "I have loved you!"

In making a full atonement for our sins, He satisfied justice to the full. He removed the curse entirely. He produced for us a righteousness, sparkling with glory beyond the rays of the morning sun! And why? He tells us, "I have loved you!"

He displayed His love NOW in the following ways:

In conquering all our spiritual adversaries which had overcome us, and had taken captive our entire race. No human arm was strong enough to overcome them, no mere creature could escape from them; but He came, He fought, He conquered, He triumphed in our nature, in our name, for our sake! And why? He tells us, "I have loved you!"

In going to heaven as our forerunner. He has carried our nature into the presence of the Father, He has shown that the path to glory is attainable, and He is now actively employed in heaven preparing places for us! And why? He tells us, "I have loved you!"

In sending the Holy Comforter, who comes in His name, to quicken, call, cleanse, and sanctify. By Him we are . . .
converted to God,
prepared for glory,
rendered useful in the present world,
and comforted in all our tribulations.

He was sent by Jesus into the church when first enthroned at the right hand of the Father. He was sent by Jesus into our hearts! And why? He tells us, "I have loved you!"

In acting as our intercessor and advocate before the Father. "He made intercession for the transgressors." He has pleaded for us, He presently pleads for us, He will continue to plead for us! And why? He tells us, "I have loved you!"

He has displayed His love in His DEALINGS with us. He found us cruel, determined, unfeeling enemies to Him. But He reconciled us, made us friends, and filled us with wonder at His love.

He bore with us, while under conviction of sin, when we thought harshly of Him, doubted Him, and tried by all possible means to do without Him.

He keeps us by His power and Holy Spirit, for we cannot be trusted for one solitary moment!

He only chastens us in love — when he might justly punish us in wrath.

He restores us from all our wanderings, and freely forgives our follies.

He carries on His work within us, and generously supplies all our needs. He rejoices to save us, though as repulsive as worms, and viler than the earth!

And He does all this for us, and does all gladly, notwithstanding our ingratitude, perverseness, and rebellion! And why? He tells us, "I have loved you!"

His love is displayed in what He INTENDS do for us. He will come in glory and majesty as our Bridegroom, to fetch us home, and openly marry us, and make us the partners of His throne, triumphs, and glory forever!

He will separate us from all sin and sinners, and everything that can pain, trouble, or grieve us.

He will clothe us with glory as bright as the sun, and as lasting as eternity! He will bring us to reign, and to triumph — and crown us with glory!

He will fill us with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and give us to possess more than our eye has seen, or our ear ever heard, or our heart could ever imagine! And why? He tells us, "I have loved you."

What will he not do for those whom He loves? What has not the love of Jesus done, or promised to do? It is, it will be, it must be matter of wonder throughout eternity — that Jesus should love us so — so freely, so constantly, with love so pure, so unbounded, and so Godlike!

Behold, how He loves us!

Behold, and wonder!

Behold, and praise!

Behold, and love Him in return!

 

The Past Reviewed

"You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness." Deuteronomy 8:2

It is well sometimes to look forward — and anticipate "the blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior."

It is good sometimes to look within — and examine whether we are in the faith.

It is right sometimes to look around — and see the posture of our foes, and what temptations are laid for us.

It is necessary also to look back — and see the way the Lord our God has led us.

WHERE have we been?

1. In a wilderness. For sin has changed the character of the present world; it was once the garden of the Lord — it is now a desolate wilderness. Its leading characteristic is barrenness. There is no food for the soul, nothing to satisfy the immortal spirits in it. King Solomon, who knew most, possessed most, and enjoyed most of this world, has said, "Vanity of vanities — all is vanity!"

2. It is a dangerous place, full of robbers, wild beasts, and terrible pits! It is full of troubles, and all who dwell in it are exposed to many, great, and painful privations.

Who has been our GUIDE? The Lord your God has led You. He well knows the place — with all its turnings, windings, and dangers! He tenderly loves our persons; His love has in it more than a mother's tenderness, and more than a father's steadfastness and strength. He always consults our welfare. He does not always aim to please or gratify us — but He always guides us into safety, peace, and honor. He leads us accoiding to our nature and circumstances: for Israel He provided the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night — to refresh, preserve, and lead them. He leads us by . . .
1. His sacred Word,
2. His Holy Spirit, and
3. the events of His Providence.

By what WAY have we been led? Not by the nearest, or the smoothest, or the easiest — but the best way. The right way. The only right way. It has been rough, difficult, and round about — but it has been right. God chose it for us, and He has led us in it. It was the way in which He could . . .

teach us the most important lessons;

try and exercise all our graces;

prove the sincerity of our professions;

prepare us for His service below, and His glory above;

and make us really useful, that He might make us honorable — for only the useful are honorable in the kingdom of our God.

How LONG has He been leading us? Israel had been led forty years — so has the writer — so, perhaps, has the reader; this is a long period, more than half of man's allotted time below. It is the most interesting period; for in these years, we have been . . .
called by grace,
separated from the world,
consecrated to God,
sent into His vineyard,
and formed into families.

It is also the most important period. Few are converted after they are forty years of age. Generally, The Lord's people are called while young. In the past forty years . . .
our state has been changed,
our nature has been renewed,
our character has been formed, and
our usefulness has been evident.

What now does the Lord REQUIRE? "You shall remember all the way the Lord your God has led you." This implies we should notice, record, and preserve an account of the Lord's dealings and leadings. Remember the way — all the way — the occurrences of the way:
that you were led — not dragged, not driven, not carried — but led;
that your leader was not a tyrant — but a God, a friend, a father;
that you were led, not left to 'chance';
that you led every moment, every step, in every place, even when you least perceived it!

Remember that the Lord's leading has preserved you — and but for that — you would never have arrived so far in safety.

Remember your faults — how many, how great, how various! Remember how you have provoked the Lord, and grieved His Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 9:7, etc.)

Remember His favors — how rich, how free, how suitable! You were a slave, a rebel, a condemned criminal — and he ransomed you, reclaimed you, pardoned you, and raised you to freedom, dignity, and happiness! (Deuteronomy 5:15.)

Remember your foes — how they hated you, pursued you, fought against you, and were determined to destroy you; but your God delivered you. (Deuteronomy 25:17, 18: Micah 6:5.)

Remember the friendship of your God — how necessary, how constant, how condescending! Friendship unparalleled, on which your supply, your safety, your all depended. (Deuteronomy 32:7-14.)

Remember the way, the Guide, and your own conduct — or you cannot be just; you will not be either grateful or humble. Remember, for God remembers. (Jeremiah 2:2.)

 

The True Token!

"Give me a true token!" Joshua 2:12

This was the request of the harlot Rahab. Jericho was threatened with destruction; its doom was fast approaching; its danger was now imminent; the spies came to her house, and she received them, for she believed that God would give the Jericho into the hands of Israel. Her concern for the salvation of herself and family was great and natural; her precaution was wise; she wanted a token — one which she could trust, which would inspire confidence; she asked it, and her request was granted.

She used a scarlet-colored rope to let down the spies, and they said, "You shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down." And she collected all her family together, into her house, "And she tied the scarlet cord in the window." This was to . . .
mark the house,
to remind the spies,
to support her hope, and
to preserve her family.

It was visible, being of a scarlet color; it was useful, being the cord by which the spies escaped. It was the means of the salvation of the family; for when Jericho was destroyed Joshua said, "Go into the harlot's house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her" and they did so.

Now let us improve the subject:
The world is threatened with destruction, as Jericho was;
its doom is fast approaching;
the danger is near and imminent;
we should be concerned for our safety, and the salvation of those connected with us;
we should not be satisfied with a, "Perhaps we may be safe," but should seek, "a true token." The Lord gives such — and many possess them.

The life of God in the soul, is a true token of safety. If quickened by the Holy Spirit, if God dwells in us, and occupies our thoughts, engages our affections, and separates us from sin and folly — then it is a clear proof that we are the Lord's.

The fear of the Lord, by which men depart from evil, is also, "a true token." If a person fears to offend God, and desires above everything to please Him — if, with this end in view, every plan is formed, every purpose executed, and every duty attended to — then it is a scriptural evidence of union to Christ.

The spirit of prayer is also, "a true token." If we are taught our need of the blessings God has promised; if we experience the irrepressible desire after them; if we are frequently prompted to retire to pray for them; if we are assisted in pleading with God for them, with fervor, zeal, and importunity, if prayer becomes natural to our souls, like breathing to our bodies; if prayer is . . .
our relief in trouble,
our solace in sorrow,
our delight in joy, and
felt to be our privilege
 — then it is clear that we are born from above.

True repentance is, "a true token." By which we mean heartfelt sorrow for sin, because it is an offence against God and grievous in his sight; accompanied with a loathing of sin, and departure from it — on account of its filthiness and evil character. Such repentance is . . .
the gift of Jesus,
the production of the Holy Spirit, and
the distinguishing mark of an 'Israelite indeed'.

Faith in Jesus is, "a true token." That is, not only giving credence to His Word — but resting upon His perfect work for acceptance with God, looking to His mediation as the only ground of hope and comfort, and presenting and pleading His atoning blood before God for all that we need. Faith always fastens the scarlet cord in the window — or sprinkles the doorposts with the blood of the paschal lamb, that the inhabitants may be safe from the sword of justice and the wrath of God.

Love to the saints is, "a true token." Loving them because they are holy, and because Jesus loves them; loving them though poor, afflicted, persecuted, and despised; loving them so as to be willing to do anything for them, for Jesus' sake.

A holy life, flowing from faith in Christ, is, "a true token." If we are united to Jesus, the root being holy — we shall be holy too! If Jesus dwells in us — He will sanctify us, and we shall . . .
breathe His spirit,
imitate His example,
and aim at His glory!

Reader, have you "a true token?" Is it as visible as the gleaming scarlet — and as useful as the cord which let down the spies? Has it secured others, as well as benefitted yourself?

Are you seeking a true token? If so, do not be discouraged. Pray, "Give me a true token!"

Is the scarlet cord in your window?

 

The Burden!

"O wretched man that I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" Romans 7:24

This is the language of the apostle Paul, and conveys to the mind some idea of the strong inward conflict he endured. He speaks in the first person singular all through the passage, and uses language which it is difficult to misunderstand, unless the mind is prejudiced against the truth. Here is . . .
Paul's heart laid open,
the working of his mind set forth,
the conflict in his bosom exposed!

Here is the flesh was warring against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh — so that he could not do the things he would. He delighted in the law of God, which none but a Christian can do. He panted for holiness as with every breath — but he felt evil working in his nature, and sometimes prevailing against him, and he cries out, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

He was burdened — and he groaned being burdened.

But his burden was nothing external — he could triumph over all his external trials, and say, "None of these things move me!"

Nor was his burden his natural body — which he inhabited as a poor and uncomfortable tabernacle.

But it was the corruption of his nature; the plague of the heart; the law in his members, warring against the law of his mind! And this, like a dead corpse fastened to a living body — was weighty, loathsome, deadly, and a constant hindrance to him! It was the consequence of Adam's sin! And is was the mainspring of his life! It was a corrupt flowing fountain sending out streams of corruption, which defile the thoughts, desires, motives, plans, affections, and activities.

Its parts, are the lusts of the flesh working powerfully; its tendency, is to eternal death, or separation from God; and while it is a part of the Christian, he renounces it, disowns it, and says, "It is no more I — but sin which dwells in me!" Still it . . .
binds him down to earth,
hinders him in every holy exercise,
depresses him and sinks his spirit in gloom,
unfits him for the enjoyment of the high and holy privileges of the gospel,
and causes him in bitterness of soul to cry, "O wretched man that I am!"

But we are not to suppose the Apostle was positively unhappy — for he was not. He was delivered from guilt; and though occasionally overcome by sin, he was not a slave to sin — but a son of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. Still he felt . . .
sin working,
lust rising,
and pollution flowing!

These things hindered him.

They were powerful — and he hated them!

They put him to grief and pain — and
as a person grieved in spirit — he groaned;
as one opposed — he wrestled;
as one in pain, he sighed for ease;
as sorrowful, he pined for comfort;
as wearied, he longed for rest;
as unable to deliver himself, he applied to his God;
as conscious that it would last through life, he cried, "O wretched man that I am!"

"Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" He knew who would deliver him — and he thanks God for it. This statement is not the language of ignorance — but of impassioned desire. He longs for deliverance, and that, because he knew that his God hated sin, and his one ruling desire was to please God in an things!

He found also, that his burden prevented or interrupted his fellowship with God; and being led away by its effect sometimes, his Father hid His face from him. His evident love to holiness had become natural; consequently his hatred to sin, in every shape and form, especially in himself — was strong and painful. He found also, that sin dwelling in him, unfitted him for those high and holy duties which devolved upon him; and indisposed him occasionally for attending to them. It led him into evil, and gave Satan and the world a degree of power over him. All which things raised in his soul a burning desire for entire deliverance from this life that is dominated by sin, this fountain of impurity, this law in the members; and therefore he cries out, "Who shall deliver me?"

See, my Christian reader, the nature and tendency of sin — it plagued, pained, hindered, and caused an Apostle to call himself a wretched man! See also what we are to expect below — even sorrow, grief, hindrances, and pains! The sinful body will burden us, press us down, and cause us sometimes to long to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

Believer, your case is not singular, or new; but your experience is the experience of all the saints, even of those who were most highly favored! Paul himself . . .
felt
just as you feel,
groaned
as you groan, and
longed for deliverance as you do now.

Nothing effects the true believer — so painfully as sin! And when his conduct is so correct, that those around him can see no cause for sorrow or complaint — he feels enough to mourn over, on account of the sin that dwells in him.

 

What Is Your Life?

"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while — and then vanishes!" James 4:14

If God asks a question — we should listen to it, think of it, and prepare an answer. Here the Lord puts a question to us; it refers to the brevity of our mortal existence; he asks each one of us, "What is your life?" We think much of it. We make great provision for it. We spend much thought upon it. We are very careful to preserve it.

But what is it? Let us ponder this question. Let us give it the attention it deserves. It is especially suitable to us when shut up in our sick chamber, when afflicted and tried with losses and crosses, or at the commencement of a new year.  

Our sufferings may be great, our trials may be many — but they must be short — for what is our life? Let us look at the DURATION of our life. It is exceedingly brief. No one figure can set forth its brevity, or sufficiently affect our minds with it — and therefore many are employed.

Our life is like a flower, which springs up under the influence of an eastern sun, which blossoms for an hour, and then fades and dies.

Our life is like a shadow, which lessens and lessens until in a few minutes it is gone.

Our life is like the shuttle which flies in the weaver's hand, and passes before the eye so swiftly, that one can but just see it and say — it is gone!

Our life is like the wind which rushes by us; we hear it, we feel it — and it is no more.

Our life is like the dried leaf which is made the sport of the breeze, and soon carried out of sight.

In one passage in the book of Job, we have figures taken from three elements, to represent its rapid flight.

"My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy. They skim past like boats of papyrus, like eagles swooping down on their prey!" (Job 9:25, 26). My life is like the swift ships, with all their sails spread, which, with the canvas crowded, glide along the watery way. My life is like the eagle hastening to its prey, compelled by hunger; with strong pinions it cuts the air, and is soon at the point where it would be!

What then, is your life? "You are a mist that appears for a little while — and then vanishes!"

What is your life in retrospect? Look back over the past ten or twenty years; how swiftly they have passed away, and every year appears to pass more quickly than the last!

What is your life in comparison? What are your thirty, or forty, or even seventy years — if compared with the age of the antediluvian patriarchs — Methuselah, for instance? But what are they in comparison with eternity? Think of endless duration, of interminable ages; and while you think of them, ask, "What is my life?" Ah, what? No comparison can be drawn — but the thought may be improved. May the Lord help us to improve it.  

This naturally leads us to inquire — What is the DESIGN of our life? Why was life given us? Why is it continued to us? Our life has reference to three parties:

First, to ourselves — the design is to prepare us for eternity. We must live forever; but how depends upon the present. If we live in sin here — we must live in suffering forever. If time is spent in folly — eternity will be sent in bitter, unavailing remorse and sorrow. But if we believe in Jesus, exercise repentance toward God, are renewed in the spirit of our minds, and devote our lives to God's service — then eternity will to us be an endless existence in pleasure, satisfaction, and unspeakable delight.

In reference to God — the design of our life is to glorify him, which we can only do by believing his promises, embracing his Son, observing his precepts, and consecrating our time and all our talents to his praise. Here we should live for God — and then in eternity we shall live with God. Here we should aim in all things to honor God — and then in eternity God will honor us.

In reference to our fellow-men — the design of our life is to benefit and do them good. No one is created for himself. Each one is bound to his fellow, and every one should aim to benefit the whole. We should serve our generation by the will of God.

Our life is misapplied, it is squandered, it is wasted in folly — if we do not use it to secure our eternal salvation, to promote God's glory, and to advance the holiness and happiness of our fellow-men. 

What is the CHARACTER of our life?

Looking at its natural character — it is a gift conferred upon us by our beneficent Creator. A gift which, if rightly used, will prove invaluable; but which, if abused, will be an occasion of eternal regret. God gave us life; he placed us highest in the scale of his creatures; he made us capable of serving, enjoying, and glorifying him for ever; he has given us also the means of grace, set before us the way of salvation, and promised his Holy Spirit unto those who ask him. Having given us life, he has crowned that life with loving-kindness and tender mercies, and has pointed out the way by which we may obtain everlasting blessedness.

But let us look at its moral character. What is our life in reference to others? Is it exemplary? Is it convincing? Is it useful? Is it likely to make a good impression? What is our life in reference to ourselves? Is it holy or profane? Is it godly or ungodly? Is it befitting an immortal being, one who must live forever? This view of the subject is not sufficiently attended to by many. Is it attended to by us? 

What is the IMPORTANCE of our life? Ah, who shall say? Who can describe, what language can set forth — the importance of our present life?

Our life is the bud of being — the flower will not open on this side the grave.

Our life is the youth of existence — we shall not be full-grown in this world.

Our life is the seedtime of eternity — what is sown now — will be reaped in an eternal, changeless state.

Our life is the introduction to immortality!

What then is its importance? Ask the dying sinner, whose eyes are just opened, whose soul is just awakened to the solemnities of the eternal world. What reply will he give? Look at his death-struck countenance, mark the expression of his half-glazed eye, hear the accents of his tremulous voice; but he fails, he tries in vain to set forth the importance of the present life. He exclaims, "Oh, that I had my time over again! Oh, that I had one year — but one month, one week, of the time I have squandered! But wishing is in vain! The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved! The importance of life I cannot describe. The value of time I can never declare."

Ask the lost soul. The soul which, like the rich man, lifts up its eyes in Hell, being in torment. Despair now rules over the immortal spirit. Agonies, beyond description, torture the never dying intellect. What is the lost soul's estimate of the importance of life? It would require a new language to describe, unearthly figures to illustrate, and a voice such as we have never heard — to set forth its estimate of the precious gift of life! Only in the depths of Hell, or in the highest Heavens — is the value of life really known!

The glorified saint, while he tunes his golden harp, sings his never-dying song, and drinks in pure and celestial pleasure, can estimate — but not fully describe, the importance of this present life!

Unsaved sinner — what is your life? Is it sin? Time spent in opposing God? Time squandered upon folly? Time dreamed away to no useful purpose? Is it trifling? On, how many trifle away their precious time! They despise their own souls. They live as if existence were bounded by time — and all beyond were annihilation. Is it folly? How many live as fools! They provide for the body — but they neglect the soul. They live for time — but they lose sight of eternity. The allotted time passes away unheeded. The day of salvation is spent in sin! They only lay a foundation for everlasting self-condemnation, and open in their own hearts a source of never ceasing agony!

Believer — what is your life? Is it Christ? Can you say with Paul, "For me to live is Christ!" Does Christ live in you? Are you spiritually minded — and do you find it life and peace? Is it a wise preparation for eternity? Are you living now — as you will wish you had lived by-and-bye?

Life is at best but short — let us improve it.

Life is uncertain — let us make sure work for eternity.

Life, if rightly viewed, is very solemn — let us spend it as intelligent and accountable creatures should.

And when tempted to trifle, when inclined to squander away a day or an hour — let the question influence our decision, "What is your life?" If it is brief — should it be spent thus? And let the Savior's question be seriously considered by all who make gain the end of life — "What shall it profit a man — if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36, 37.)

Reader! the time is short, eternity is near, salvation is of infinite importance! Let us therefore decide, and accept the Savior's glorious invitation at once, and so shall we be saved forever!

 

The Spirit's Work in the Believer

"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:5-6

Spirituality flows from the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit in the soul, who . . .
  kindles spiritual love,
  awakens spiritual desires, and
  produces spiritual devotion.

All spiritual people are led by the Spirit, and are taught by Him to know the truth as it is in Jesus. They are kept looking to Jesus — and depending on the assistance of the Spirit in every duty and every trial. They live and labor to glorify God — renouncing self and endeavoring to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. They rest upon the work of Christ outside of them, for their acceptance with God; but they do not, they cannot overlook the work of the Spirit within them — but often pay particular attention to it.

The Spirit's work in the believer
consists:

1. In convincing us of sin, when we go astray from the right ways of the Lord.

2. In working repentance and sorrow within us, and leading us to confess and mourn over our sins before God.

3. In opening up, and applying the Word of God, so that it . . .
  meets our case,
  feeds our faith,
  fires our love, and
  deepens our humility.

4. In exciting and drawing forth the soul in prayer, praise, and adoration at the throne of God — so that we sometimes . . .
  melt in contrition,
  are crumbled down in humiliation,
  and are almost dissolved in love.

5. In making us bold in God's cause, and giving us to feel liberty in His presence, through faith in the blood of His dear Son.

6. In giving us soul refreshing glimpses . . .
  of the glorious person of Jesus,
  of the everlasting covenant,
  and of eternal glory.

7. In melting us down in sincere gratitude before God, under a sense of His undeserved favor.

8. In removing all legal fears, and causing holy peace to flow through the soul like a river.

9. In melting us in meekness, and producing sweet submission to the sovereign will of God.

10. In sweetly soothing and consoling under trials and bereavements; and enabling us to look forward with hope and joy.

11. In giving us sweet intimations of the love of God to us, by pleasing impressions, and holy discoveries of His grace.

12. In witnessing to our adoption, awakening the cry of "Abba, Father!" in our hearts, and enabling us to claim a filial relationship to God.

13. In drawing forth our souls in love to God — under an overcoming sense of His free and unparalleled love to us.

14. In enabling us to mount upward as on the wings of an eagle, and to run with pleasure and delight in God's holy ways.

15. In quickening us to rejoice in the Lord, when all things around are calculated to fill us with despondency and gloom.

16. In producing patience in our souls, and enabling us to look away from the things which are seen and temporal — and to look to unseen and eternal realities.

In all these things, and many more — the work of the Spirit in the experience of the believer appears.

Reader, do you know anything of these things in your own experience? Is the Spirit of God daily working in your heart, and do you pay attention to . . .
  the lessons He teaches,
  the impressions He makes, and
  the direction in which He points?

The Spirit works within the Christian, teaching him daily to make use of Christ as the panacea for all the ills of life!

O for more of the Spirit's work within us — that we may live to the praise and glory of Him who loved us, and died to redeem us from sin, death, and Hell!

Holy Spirit, work in us more and more — teaching us the truth, and conforming us to Christ! O for more of Your power, love, and holiness!

 

Guide Me, Teach Me!

Divine teaching is in substance — the same in all ages, and under all circumstances. As we all need the same blessings — we are all led to the same source of supply — and taught to ask the same favors, on the same grounds. How frequently we are struck with this thought, when reading God's word, especially the book of Psalms: the prayers of David find an echo in our hearts, and we feel that we are the subjects of the same fears, desires, and hopes. How often has my heart ascended, while my lips have uttered, "Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me — for You are God my Savior, and I wait on You all day long!" Psalm 25:4-5

This shows . . .
that we have a knowledge of our ignorance — and desire to be divinely taught,
that we are sensible of our weakness — and our need of a divine Teacher,
that we are aware that the Lord teaches his people — and reveals the truth in its purity, beauty, and glory to the soul,
that we cannot be satisfied with uncertainty, or the mere outside of truth — but that we wish to have an inward, heart-affecting, experimental knowledge of it.

Such a petition, presented to the Lord, with fervor, sincerity, and faith — proves that we are already under the enlightening and gracious operations of the Holy Spirit; for none go to the Lord, seeking to be divinely taught — but such as see their own folly, and realize the inability of man to teach them to profit. The soul, that from time to time, presents this petition —
honors the Lord Jesus Christ as the divine prophet,
proves the drawing power of the Father in the heart, and
glorifies the blessed Spirit, whose office it is to lead us into all truth.

"For You are God my Savior." From this, it is evident that we have felt our need of salvation, that we have sought the Lord on account of it, and have pleaded with God for it. Also that we have received some answers to our prayers, and have now an interest in it. We therefore plead past mercies — for present blessings; and our saving interest in God — when we seek new favors from God. We now need to be led and taught of God, we therefore cry, "I have looked to you for salvation, you have graciously heard my request, I now feel my need of your guidance and instruction — and therefore I come again, and beseech you to lead me in your truth and teach me."

It is the Christian's best plan, and highest wisdom, having received from the Lord — to go to the Lord for present supplies — let him need what he may. As also to make use of past favors, as a plea for present attention — for the Lord loves to hear his people's acknowledgment, and again appears to bless them. The Lord having manifested himself as the God of salvation, and granted the greater blessing, it would be wrong to doubt his love, or question his willingness to grant us any lesser favor.

"I wait on You all day long!" This proves sincerity, when the soul not only asks for a blessing — but waits for it. It shows that the soul not only needs and desires the good thing sought — but expects it. It is not satisfied to ask for divine teaching — but it really wishes to be taught. It does not compliment the Lord by offering a formal prayer, and then insult him, by expecting to obtain from the creature; but asking of God, expecting from God — it waits on God; waits all the day, and day after day too!

O how many profess to come to God, and seek good things from God — but only for a little time, or at intervals — whereas they should wait on the Lord, and wait on him until they obtain — seeing he has promised, "Those who wait on Me shall not be ashamed." The consistent believer, looks up to God in the morning, calls upon him at noonday, and perseveres hour after hour — until the blessing comes down. As David said, "O my God, I cry in the day-time — but you hear not; and in the night season, am not silent." And again, "Be merciful unto me, O Lord — for I cry unto you daily."

The prayer we have been considering, indicates saving personal religion! "Lead me" "I cry unto you!" That is not real religion, which is not personal; or which has not its seat in the heart, influencing the desires, and regulating the life. That soul will be preserved from all destructive errors, and led into all saving truth — which seeks divine guidance and teaching, waiting upon God for it. And those are the best educated in spiritual matters — who are jealous of their own hearts, who fear to trust their own judgments, and from a sense of their own ignorance, constantly seek to be taught of God.

But let us endeavor to impress this thought upon our minds: that merely asking is not enough! We must ask from a deep sense of need, with a desire to obtain, and persevere in waiting upon God — until we receive. Nor only so, we must use all the means in our power, as . . .
reading
the Word,
hearing
the gospel,
conversing
with others, and
meditating
on what we read and hear.

And yet at the same time, we are to expect the blessing to come directly from God, though it comes through the means.

Hence wisdom says, "Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to ME, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord!" Proverbs 8:33-35

But those who profess to seek the Lord's teaching, and to desire to know the truth — and yet listen to error, or read erroneous books — make it clear that they are not sincere, for if they were, they would not tamper with temptation, or play with the snare! Let us then keep close to God's Word, and in every difficulty, either in providence or grace, be this our prayer, "Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me — for You are God my Savior, and I wait on You all day long!"

 

An Israelite Indeed!

True grace in the heart always manifests itself by a concern for the welfare of others, and an attempt to bring them to Jesus. Where there is no concern for the salvation of others, no efforts to save souls from death — the case is at best very doubtful. When Jesus called Philip, he began to look after Nathaniel, spoke to him, pleaded with him, and met his objections; nor did he leave him, until he had brought him to Jesus. "Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him, and said of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit." John 1:47. Let us look at:

Nathaniel's Title. "An Israelite indeed!" As an Israelite — he was distinguished from other nations; and as an Israelite indeed — he was distinguished from many in his own people. He was circumcised in heart, as every true believer is, being renewed in the spirit of his mind. He was taught out of God's law — and therefore knew God's holiness, and his own sinfulness, and the method of salvation by grace. He was savingly interested in the atonement, which was made by Israel's priest, for Israel's race. He was cleansed from pollution and defilement, with the washing of water by the word. He was separated from the world around, separated by God, and for God, as the whole house of Israel were. He was related to God, being part of the people whom the Lord called his own, his first-born. To him as a sincere, sensible, and instructed worshiper of God — no sin was imputed, for to him belonged the blessedness of the man whose iniquity is forgiven, and whose sin is covered, to whom the Lord does not impute sin.

Just so, all God's true Israel are . . .
regenerated by the Holy Spirit — taught of God;
savingly interested in the sacrifice and perfect work of Christ;
cleansed from pollution by the sanctifying operations of the Holy Spirit;
adopted into God's family; and
justified from all things before God's throne. Consider, then,

Nathaniel's Excellence. "An Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit." There was no pretense about him, no hypocrisy, no sham. He was really what he appeared to be — as every professor should be.

He was sincere before God in prayer and praise, offering him the service of the heart, and giving utterance to the feelings of the soul.

He was sincere before men in his profession and in his dealings. He professed to be just what he was — and was just what he professed to be. His word might be taken, and his honesty trusted.

He was honest with himself, examining his own heart, and comparing his inner life and outward conduct with God's own righteous standard. He was all of one piece — the same in all places, in all companies, and at all times, so that you may know him. He hated craft, cunning, duplicity, and artifice; and was open and candid in his dealings. This is just what every professor of religion should be and do. Brethren, let us be deceitless. Let us have no hypocrisy, no pretense, no sham. But let us be sincere, upright, and honest. If we are wicked — let us appear so; and if we are righteous — let us prove it by works of righteousness. But never let us cover hatred with deceit, either toward God or man. Let us now glance at,

The Savior's Note of Admiration. "Behold!" Behold the character, for . . .
it is rare and uncommon;
it is excellent and admirable;
it is instructive and impressive.

This ought not to be the case — but it is. Let us, therefore, behold, and learn . . .
what Christ admires;
what grace produces;
and what distinguishes man from man — SINCERITY.

Let us behold and imitate, for there is no true religion without sincerity of heart and life. Let us behold and see what God approves, and what glory will crown, for the upright shall dwell in his presence.

Observe, profession and possession differ: many have a profession of Christ — who do not have possession of Christ. All who profess to be God's Israel — are not Israelites indeed; "for he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision that is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, whose praise is not of men — but of God." Therefore said the apostle, speaking of himself and his brethren, "We are the true circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

The Savior discerns and distinguishes. His eye penetrates the heart. He is acquainted with every thought, purpose, and motive of the soul. There is no deceiving him, for he has said, "I am he who searches hearts and minds."

Gracious Savior, search me in mercy. Show me just what I am in your sight — and make me just what I ought to be, both before God and man. Save, O save me, from all pretense, hypocrisy, and deceit; and make me open, honest, and sincere; that those who know me best, may say of me, as you did of Nathaniel, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"

 

God's Knowledge of Us

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!" Hebrews 4:13

"The Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought!" 1 Chronicles 28:9

"I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person!" Revelation 2:23

"O Lord, You know!" Jeremiah 15:15

God's perfect knowledge is like the pillar-cloud which led Israel out of Egypt, and through the wilderness: it is dark and a cause of terror to His enemies — but it is light and a source of comfort to His children.

The thought often cheers us, "My God knows me!" Others may mistake me — He never will. Others may misunderstand me — He never can. He knows me intimately, thoroughly. His eye penetrates the depth of my nature, and looks under all the mysterious folds of my heart. There is not a thought in my heart, or a word in my tongue — but, "You know it completely, O Lord!" Let me meditate upon this fact, for a short time, in a devotional spirit, for my soul's profit, and the Lord's glory. 

"O Lord, You know" my TRIALS. The quarters from which they come, their pressure upon my mind and heart, and the grace I need to bear them patiently, as a Christian ought. O Lord, You know my domestic trials, that they are great; my commercial trials, that they are heavy; my soul trials, which are worst of all. "You have tried me, and known me."

My trials increase with my years, they come from new and unexpected quarters, they often bewilder my mind, and harass my soul — but, "O Lord, You know" them! They do not come unobserved by You. Rather, are they not sent by You, and intended to unsettle my mind from the things of time, and lead me to seek fellowship with the glorious things which are above? May every trial drive me to the feet of Jesus — that I may soothe my troubled spirit with a view of His beauty and glory.

"O Lord, You know" my TRIALS! In every trial, Lord, sympathize with me, give me special grace, and help me to endure temptation as a disciple of Jesus should.  

"O Lord, You know" my FEARS. They are many, they are painful, they hang on so firmly. Many of them are unfounded, and often cause me much unnecessary pain. I am sometimes afraid of man. Occasionally afraid of God. Often, very often afraid of myself. My heart is so foul, my corruptions are so strong, my lusts are so active, Satan is so crafty, my temper is so irritable, and my tongue is so unguarded — that I am afraid that I shall some day fall and dishonor Your holy name!

Then, at times,
my mind is so dark, so carnal, so dead to everything that is holy;
my heart is so stupid, stubborn, and hard;
my affections are so earthly, depraved, and carnal
 — that I am afraid that my past experience is delusion, my hope unfounded, and my profession a mistake. I am afraid I shall fall short at last — that death will undeceive me, and eternity be spent under the fearful frown of God!

My fears are often so numerous, so powerful, and so natural, that I am as timid as a dove; and sit down and write sad and bitter things against myself.

"O Lord, You know" my FEARS, the cause of them, the nature of them, and the effect of them — and You alone can effectually deliver me from them. 

"O Lord, You know" my FOES. They are deceptive, dogged, and determined. They watch me, worry me, and weary me. They lay wait for me. They praise — and try to deceive me. They flatter — and try to puff me up. They threaten — and try to intimidate me. The old roaring lion — seeks to destroy me. The old serpent — endeavors to beguile me with his subtlety.

O the enemies I find in my heart! At times I meet with them in the church. Occasionally I come in contact with them in the world. My enemies are numerous, and they are powerful — but, "O Lord, You know" them all. They can only act under Your eye! You are present in their secret councils, You know their private plots, You watch their craftiest movements.

O what a comfort it is — when I can believe that God is my Father, and realize that He has all my enemies under His eye, and that He holds them all in check.

"O Lord, You know" my FOES! Lord, let me not dishonor You by fearing man, or trembling before Satan, or feeling alarmed at death! Rather give me wisdom and grace, to put on the whole of the armor which You have provided, and manfully resist, oppose, and overcome them! 

"O Lord, You know" my DESIRES. And these sometimes, form my only evidence of a work of grace in my heart. You know that I do desire to be holy — though I am not. You know that I desire to worship You in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. You know that I would exalt Jesus, spread His fame, and bring thousands of sinners to His feet. You know that I desire to mortify the flesh, with its affections and lusts; to put on the new man; to walk in holiness; and to be a burning and shining light. You know that I desire to be, to do, and to suffer all Your will without complaining, or even wishing for the least alteration in a single point. But my desires — and my conduct, my inward desires — and my outward behavior, are often sadly at variance, for I find the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that I cannot do the things that I would.

But blessed be God, my desires for practical conformity to His will are natural, habitual, and often powerful; and must, as I believe, spring from the presence, power, and operation of His Holy Spirit.

"O Lord, You know" my DESIRES! Give me grace that I may be enabled to carry out my desires in all the walks of life! 

"O Lord, You know" my HOPES.

Hopes that refer to time — and hopes that run into eternity.

Hopes that respect the body — and hopes that refer to the soul.

Hopes for the church — and hopes for the world.

Hopes for my family — and hopes for myself.

Especially my hope of eternal life — and of sharing in the glories and triumphs of Jesus when He comes.

The crown of my hope, You know is, the soon coming of my beloved Lord. To see Him come in the clouds, with glory, and all the holy angels with Him. To shine in the glory of the first resurrection, to be invited to sit down at the marriage-supper of the Lamb, and to share in the privileges and immunities of the New Jerusalem. O that the King of kings would come! O that the Lord would descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet call of God! O that the Lord's people could lay aside their prejudices, and as one man embrace the doctrine, and hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"O Lord, You know" that my hope of acceptance in Your sight, rests on the finished work of Jesus alone, and all my hopes of good in this world, or in that which is to come — are founded on Your most blessed and holy Word. 

"O Lord, You know" my SINS and FOLLIES. No one else does. No one else ever will. How could I look anyone in the face — if I thought he knew what was passing in my heart, or what is transacted in the chambers of my imagination within! The Lord alone can search the heart. He only knows the worst of us; and He only knows the best; for the best and the worst, are both concealed in the same heart. The eye of God sees every motive, every thought, every lust, every action! His eye is on that mysterious portion of our nature, called the imagination, on which such strange pictures are often painted, in which such fearful scenes are sometimes transacted. What a depth of pollution there is within us! What billows of corruption sometimes roll and swell! What streams of moral filthiness sometimes flow from the heart into the imagination! How difficult sometimes to keep it back. "You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from You!" Psalm 69:5

Little does the young Christian think what the pure and holy eye of God sees within him; and what his own eye will one day discover, filling him with alarm — if not with horror, with shame and self-loathing before God. Then he will enter into poor Job's confession, "Behold, I am vile!" and into Isaiah's exclamation, "Woe is me! I am undone!" "What more can I say unto You? For You know Your servant, O Sovereign Lord!" 2 Samuel 7:20

But blessed be God, the righteousness of Jesus covers all, conceals all; and the grace and Spirit of God will ultimately purge away the whole foul heap from us!

Now our iniquities are forgiven, and our sins are covered; but then our natures will be perfectly purified, and be white as the falling snow! "Beloved, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is!" 1 John 3:2  

"O Lord, You know" my FRAME. You know what it was — when I lay dead in trespasses and sins! You know what it is — in my present transitory state. You know the diseases and disorders, from which the body suffers. You know the imperfect organization and depraved principles, by which the soul is fettered, troubled, and hindered. You know the weakness of the memory, the smallness of the mental capacity, the trembling state of the nerves, and the weak condition of the muscles. Yes, my Father knows it all!

"He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust." The entire whole of us — is perfectly known to our Heavenly Father! He can fully understand us. He can sympathize with us. He can make all things work together for our good. All that in us is good — He has produced by His own Spirit and Word. All that is evil, He has permitted in His wisdom and holiness.

He knew us from eternity. When He chose us to eternal life — He knew all about us. When He called us by His sovereign and distinguishing grace — He was well aware of what we were, and what we would be. God has never been disappointed in us, whoever else may be.

O to know Him! To know Him fully, to know Him experimentally, to know Him so as to love Him with all our powers, to serve Him every moment of our lives, and to seek to promote His glory in every action we perform. O to know Him as revealed in Jesus, as seated on a throne of grace, as working all things after the counsel of His own will! O to know Him in His own glorious world, where all His perfections are fully displayed, all His attributes are manifested, and all His gracious relations are enjoyed. O for the time, when we shall know Him — even as also we are known by Him! 

"O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue — You know it completely, O Lord. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens — You are there; if I make my bed in the depths — You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You!"

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139

 

The Prayer of Moses

"Return, O Lord! How long will it be?" Psalm 90:13

So sighed Moses, the man of God, when Israel was wandering in the desert, when death was sweeping away the rebellious generation which came out of Egypt, from the earth; and when God, to a great extent, kept at a distance from them.

And so may we sigh and pray, under our present depressing, discouraging circumstances, as the visible church of Christ. God has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud: and he has covered himself with a cloud, so that our prayers will not pass through. We sigh and cry — but he seems to shut out our prayer; we mourn his absence — but he does not favor us with his presence as we desire and wish to enjoy it. The prayer of Moses is ours; yes, beloved, we are crying out, "Return, O Lord! How long will it be?"  

What is the CAUSE of this exclamation? Why do we thus pray?

Because we are not favored with those sweet, soul-melting joys which we used to enjoy. One branch of God's kingdom was, "joy in the Holy Spirit." One characteristic of the believer was, that he "rejoiced in Christ Jesus." The disciples "were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." Once, in our experience, his teachings dropped as the rain, and his communications distilled as the dew. We sat under his shadow with delight, and his fruit was sweet unto our taste. But where are those joys now? When do we enjoy such precious seasons?

Where are the people that are in such a case? Alas, generally speaking, we are cold, hard, lifeless, and unspiritual; therefore, we may well cry, "Return, O Lord! How long will it be?"

Again, the sanctifying influences of the blessed Spirit do not attend the Word as they once did. Time was, when the preacher could say to his people, "We all with open face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord — are being changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." By the gospel ordinances, the Lord sanctified his people:
the covetous became liberal;
the proud became humble;
the idle became industrious;
the self-indulgent learned to practice self-denial;
the earthly-minded became spiritual;
a gradual, progressive — but marked change took place in them!
But now, professors remain very much what they were, which makes us exclaim, "Return, O Lord! How long will it be?"

Once more, the saving operations of the quickening Spirit are withheld. Once sinners were converted by thousands: great multitudes both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. The hand of the Lord was with his servants, and multitudes were turned unto the Lord. The Lord added to the church daily, such as should be saved. The gospel was accompanied with an invincible power, and the hearers were born again by the word of truth. The gospel came not in word only — but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Now how few are really converted to God; and even in the converted — how slight the work appears. Once the soul was like softened wax, and the image of Christ was deeply impressed upon it; now it is rather like drawing paper, and the likeness of Jesus is only seen drawn in faint outline upon it. Well, therefore, may we cry, "Return, O Lord! How long will it be?"

And we do so, because we can find no substitute for the divine presence. We have learning, eloquence, argument, emotional appeals, earnest entreaties, and loving tenderness — but all this will not do! Things remain just as they were! We can be satisfied with nothing less than the presence of God. We value the servants — but we want the Master. We prize the instruments — but we long for the divine Agent. We have the wells — but we want the living, the life-giving water. And all our efforts will decay to nothing — except the Lord returns in power.

In many places, our churches decrease, our congregations dwindle, our pastors are dispirited, and dull discontent pervades all the true people of God. These things make us cry, and cry with painful earnestness, "Return, O Lord! How long will it be?" 

But what ANSWER may we suppose that the Lord will give to many of us?

Perhaps he may say that he will not return as we desire — until we separate from the world as he has bidden us. His word is, "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." But, like Ephraim of old, we have mixed ourselves among the people. Politics, business, carnal associations, and worldly thinking have led us astray; so that there is but very little difference between the professing people of God — and those who make no profession. He requires us to stand out in bold relief from the world — to be distinct and distinguishable — to be like a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hidden. While worldly professors have balls, dances, concerts, etc. — we shall be left to cry, "Return, O Lord! How long will it be?"

Again, we may not expect him to return — until we realize the end of our salvation. We are called with a Heavenly calling. We are called to glory and virtue. Our calling is to publish and preserve God's truth — to represent and set forth the true nature of Christ's holy religion — to endeavor to pluck sinners as brands from the burning, and lead them on to glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life.

We are saved: to live for God — to live like Jesus — to aim at the honor of God in everything we do — to live as saints, or unearthly persons, who are born from above, buried with Christ, risen with Christ, ascended with Christ, and identified with Christ!

We are to act like the temples of the Holy Spirit — the companions of God the Father, and of his Son Jesus Christ, with whom we profess to live in close, constant, and sensible fellowship.

We are to make God's glory the one great end of our existence, so that, whether we think or speak, rest or work, worship or visit, eat or drink, or whatever we do — we do all to the glory of God.

We may not expect the Lord to return — until we stir up ourselves to take hold upon him. Like Jacob we must go out into the plain, and there wrestle with God. Like Elijah — we must go to the top of Carmel, and there plead until we prevail. Like Hezekiah we must turn our faces to the wall, and pray until God yields to us. Like the disciples at Emmaus we must constrain him to turn in and abide with us.

Brethren, let us remember, that the energetic prayer of the righteous man avails much; that God will attend to his own elect when they cry day and night unto him — though he may seem to hold out long. Let us, therefore, stir up ourselves to take hold on him, and give him no rest until he bows the Heavens and comes down, and works wonders in our midst!

Do we feel this to be our state? Is God at a distance from us? Are the ordinances comparatively barren? Is the gospel almost without effect? Are our churches and ministers at a loss to know what to do? Do we pant and long for a change? Is this the rooted, reigning, abiding desire of our souls? Can we be satisfied with no less? Are we becoming impatient and passionately crying out, "Return, O Lord! How long will it be?" Or can we be still, silent, and comparatively indifferent under such a state of things?

Brethren, the Spirit of God is grieved — and we have grieved him!

Our Heavenly Father's heart is wounded — and we have wounded it!

Our adorable Savior has been crucified afresh — and we have crucified him!

These things call for deep thought, for bitter tears, for daily repentance, for fervent prayers, for frank confession, for earnest pleadings, and for immediate reformation!

Do we feel upon this subject — as we ought to feel? Do you? Do we act under the circumstances — as we ought to act? Do you? God refuses to be considered the author or the cause of these things, therefore he demands of us, "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Are these his doings? Do not my words do good unto him that walks uprightly?" Can we have walked uprightly, then? Impossible, or God would not withhold his presence from us! Hear his own word, "The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly!"

 

Love Put to the Proof

It is not every man's religion, which will stand the test. Many a man's profession has looked fair enough — until it has been tried, and then it has proved to be counterfeit. How important then is self-examination — and looking well to our foundation. Unless founded on Christ — the fabric will fall. Unless our religion is the work of God — it will fail us in the day of trial. God's religion . . .
 
captures the heart for Him,
  devotes the life to Him, and
  prepares us to part with whatever is called for by Him.

Such was Abraham's religion, which God put to so severe a test; and to whom when he was tried, the angel said, "Now I know that you fear God — seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me!" Genesis 22:12. 

The Principle. Godly fear. "You fear God."

In order to fear God, with a holy, filial fear — we must KNOW Him. Know Him as a gracious, merciful, covenant God. Know Him as revealed in Jesus. Know Him as a Father — the Father of mercies, the God of all grace.

We must BELIEVE Him. In order to which we must have His Word, especially His precious promises. Exercising faith in them — we shall have confidence in Him, and trust Him to make them good.

We must LOVE Him. Our love to Him will be regulated by our knowledge of Him, and our faith in Him. Just in proportion as we receive into our minds, the lovely representations of Himself which God has given in His Word, and by His Son, and according to the degree of faith we exercise in Him — will be our love to Him.

Love will lead us to FEAR Him, filling our hearts with profound reverence, and making us afraid to offend Him, or grieve Him, or disobey Him, or withhold anything from Him — and that, just because we love Him. The one ruling desire of our souls will be to please God. This was Abraham's case, therefore when God tried him — he came off victorious. 

The Proof. "You have not withheld your son — your only son from Me." God requires proof of the sincerity of our profession, when we profess to prefer Him to all besides.

The proof that God requires, is sometimes COSTLY. We must sacrifice our best — that which we love most, that which we prefer to all we have besides.

The proof that God requires, is often PAINFUL. We must pluck out the right eye, and cut off the right hand — or lay our beloved Isaac upon the altar!

The proof that God requires, is also at times, the most UNLIKELY. Who would have thought that God would have required such a sacrifice from Abraham? Would not any of his flocks or herds do? Would not a favorite servant do? Would not Ishmael do? No! It must be his dear son Isaac! This was God's requirement.

Abraham listened to God's voice, he bowed to God's authority, he yielded to God's requirement, he determined to obey God's command. Noble deed! Worthy of the friend of God.

Now he prepares for the deed — he takes his son, he travels to Mount Moriah, he builds the altar, he binds the lad, he takes the knife, he is just about to slay his son! In his intention — he had sacrificed him. Now the angel calls to him, "Lay not your hand upon the lad!" Why? 

The Testimony. "Now I know that you fear God — seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me." I have proved you now. You have manifested your sincerity. I acknowledge what I knew before — and will hold you up as an example to My church, in all future generations.

God will try our principles! Sooner or later He will bring us to the test. Let us therefore seek grace to prepare us to stand the test as Abraham did. God will approve of our ready obedience. He did in the case of Abraham — He does in every case. Let us therefore promptly do whatever appears to us to be the will of God. Let us imitate David, who said, "I made haste, and delayed not, to keep Your precepts!"

God will publish the proof of our faith and love! He published Abraham's in His holy Word — and He will publish ours before an assembled world. "Whoever shall confess Me before men — him I will confess also before My Father who is in heaven." 

Let us now turn the subject, and standing before Calvary's cross, look up to God, and say, "Now I know that You love me — seeing You have not withheld Your son, Your only son from me!"

Did Abraham furnish a costly proof of his love to God, when he offered up his Isaac? What a proof of His love, has God given us — in that He spared not His own Son — but delivered Him up for us all!

Did Abraham sacrifice his own son, with his own hand, at least in intention? God did so in reality and in fact! It pleased the Lord to bruise Him! He has put Him to grief. It was His own sword, in His own hand — which pierced His beloved Son to His heart! Therefore Jesus cried, "Father, if it is possible — let this cup pass from Me!" O what love! O what a costly proof of God's love!

As God has not withheld from us His Son — but has sacrificed Him for our sins, and by His death made an atonement for our transgressions — can He then withhold from us any inferior good? Will He not with Him also — will He not after having given Jesus — freely give us all things. O Holy and ever blessed Spirit, impress this glorious truth upon my mind, and daily bring it to my remembrance — that my heavenly Father, having given His Son to die for me — will withhold no good thing from me! Well, well may I say — as I stand on Calvary, and gaze on the slaughtered Lamb, "Now I know that You love me — seeing You have not withheld Your son, Your only son from me!"

 

A Seasonable Prescription

As we Christians advance in life, and know more of human nature, and the power of temptation — the greater interest should we take in the young, and the more urgently should we seek their salvation. It is a lovely sight to see aged Christians endeavoring to bring young people to the Savior. And this we ought constantly to see — for they know the power . . .
  of youthful lusts,
  of the world's attractions,
  of Satanic influence,
  of the deceitfulness of the heart,
  and the value of the immortal soul!

Aged friends, do you feel and act, as you should for the young? Do you do all that you can to snatch them as brands from the burning?

Solomon was an old man when he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, and in that book he manifests great solicitude for the young. Again and again he addresses them in different ways — but with what touching and subtle irony, does he speak to them in one place, "Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see. BUT KNOW that for all these things — God will bring you to judgment!" Ecclesiastes 11:9 

The Youth's Practice. He is happy in his youth — in his physical vigor, personal attractions, and newly acquired liberty. Feeling strong, he puts the day of judgment far from him. Vain of his person — he is proud of his appearance and abilities. Freed from the restraints of home — he removes the reins from the neck of his lusts. His heart cheers him on — and urges him forward in the pursuit of folly! He walks in the way of his heart — which is always evil. He is ignorant of its powers of deception. He is therefore deceived by the corrupt principles that work within it. He hushes his conscience to sleep, or by violence constrains it to be silent.

He then yields to the alluring influence of the world. And while so doing, Satan tempts him to proceed farther and farther — plotting his eternal damnation!

He does what he thinks best in his own eyes — allowing them to mislead him. He walks by sight — not according to God's Word. He is led away by appearances, and despises the counsel and example of the godly. He refuses to listen to, or be guided by the advice of parents. He despises, or slights, the preacher's admonition, and will be a law unto himself. He chooses vain people for his companions, and follows the example of the foolish! Let us now listen to, 

The Preacher's Prescription. "Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see. BUT know that for all these things — God will bring you to judgment!"

Take your own course — if you are determined.

Go on in the way which you prefer — if you think it best.

Persevere in the path that you have chosen.

BUT KNOW that there is an end to your course — and that end is a judgment!

The judgment day is fixed — and it is therefore certain.

The judge stands at the door — it is therefore near.

The dead, small and great, shall stand before God — it is therefore universal.

Every one of us shall give account of himself before God — it is therefore personal.

Before this final judgment, shall be gathered all nations — it will therefore be open and public.

God will judge in justice and uprightness — it will therefore be righteous.

It will be the great day, the last day — and will therefore be final.

"BUT KNOW that for all these things — God will bring you to judgment!"

You will not be able to escape!

You will not be overlooked or forgotten!

You will be personally summoned — and there will be no evading!

Death will arrest and cast you into prison. From thence, the angels will bring you out — and Jesus will judge you! For "He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness, by the Man He has appointed!" Acts 17:31

Young man! Young woman! To you is this word of solemn admonition sent! See how many young people are being called away by death! Fatal diseases and accidents — how common. Sudden deaths — how frequent. It is very probable that God may soon call for YOU! How necessary then that you be ready, for death very often gives but a short notice — or no notice! God . . .
  warns
you by His providence;
  He directs you in His Word;
  He invites you by His ministers;
  and He will judge you by His Son!

Whenever therefore you are tempted to indulge in any unholy amusement or practice, remember these words: "BUT KNOW that for all these things — God will bring you to judgment!"

 

A Serious Inquiry

"Lord, what is man — that you should notice us, mere mortals that you should care for us?" Psalm 144:3

"Lord, what is man!" Thus the psalmist exclaimed, when reviewing the Lord's goodness to him, and recounting the gracious characters in which the Lord stood to him. Great trials had brought him great mercies. Great difficulties had given him a great experience of the Lord's goodness. He rejoices in God as his strength and instructor, the source of his mercy, his fortress, his high tower and his deliverer, his shield and the object of his trust. God had been to him — all that his circumstances required, so that notwithstanding his many fears and numerous foes — he had persevered and prevailed. Looking back upon the past — he felt constrained to look up, and looking up he was led to contrast God's goodness to him — with his own insignificance and unworthiness, and almost involuntarily cried out, "Lord, what is man!"

It is the language of surprise! He was struck with wonder and amazement at the conduct of his God, and full of admiration, he gives vent to his overpowering feelings in this brief exclamation.

It is the language of humility! He felt crushed under a sense of God's amazing kindness to one so sinful, to one so vile; the sense of God's undeserved grace laid him very low; and from the dust of self-abasement, he expressed his wonder at the Divine dealings with him.

It is the language of gratitude! His heart was full, it was overflowing with grateful praise. Surprised, humble, and grateful — he was prepared to glorify his good and gracious God. And this will be the case with us, when we take a retrospect of the past from the right point; when we look at ourselves — and then at our God; at our righteous deserts — and His merciful dealings. We will now briefly look at the question with a view to our own edification. 

What is man PHYSICALLY? He is fearfully and wonderfully made. He is the chief of the works of God. What a wonderful structure is the body! What wisdom is displayed in devising, arranging, and adapting the different parts — to form the one simple, yet complicated machine! The bones, the muscles, the blood-vessels, the nerves, the brain, the flesh, the skin; the different organs of sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. What a beautiful and yet suitable dwelling they form for the immortal soul.

Yet when we think of what man is, and then of what man was — how great the contrast. When we look at man in youth, in health, and in full vigor — and then at what man is when aged, or diseased, or dead; we cannot but feel ready to exclaim, "What is man!"

But when we direct our thoughts to God — to His greatness, glory, holiness, and immutability — we feel a still stronger impulse inducing us to cry, "What is man?" Man so little, so sinful, so sickly, so changeable, so transitory! "What is man — that you should magnify him? and that you should set your heart upon him? That you should visit him every morning, and try him every moment?" 

What is man MORALLY? This is the worst part of the picture! It is bad enough to see man diseased, suffering, dying, moldering to dust; but when we come to inquire into the cause of all this — it is fearful indeed!

Man is dreadfully depraved. He has fallen from the state in which his good and glorious Creator placed him. He is now totally depraved. He is God's enemy. His heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. His carnal mind is enmity against God. He is full of evil principles and evil passions. He has become, not only unprofitable — but abominable! No part of God's creation presents such a hideous sight to His pure and holy eyes — as man does, for in him heart and mind are alike depraved, and set in opposition to Himself.

Man is wicked — but he is not only wicked, he is weak. Sin has become a fearful disease within him. He has no will to do good. He has no power to do good — if he had the will. Hence the apostle when partially renewed, speaking of himself, said, "To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not."

Man is perverse, he closes his eyes, his ears, and his heart against God! It is only for God to require something — and man determines not to do it; or for God to prohibit something — and man immediately desires it. His will is as much opposed to God as it can be. He slights His mercy, dares His justice, and defies His power. He perseveres in sin, unless the Lord by His invincible grace prevents him. He has sunk lower than the beasts which perish, hence the Lord complains, "The ox know his owner, and the donkey his master's crib — but Israel does not know, My people do not consider!"

There is everything in man to offend the eyes of God's holiness, and to grieve His loving heart. Looking at man as fallen, polluted, and under the power of sin — we may well ask, "What is man, that You are mindful of him?" Psalm 8:4

What is man SPIRITUALLY? That is, man as renewed by the Holy Spirit, as united to Jesus, and as brought into fellowship with God. Man as a new creation. Man as in Christ. Ah! what is man then? The change is astonishing! The alteration is striking! It is like turning from a barren wilderness — to Eden, from an arid desert — to the garden of the Lord.

Renewed man is God's own CHILD. The child of His love. The child which He has adopted for His own. The child into which He has infused His own holy nature. The child on whom He confers His richest blessings, which He elevates to the highest honors. The child whom He constitutes His heir, and a joint-heir with His only-begotten Son. The child to which He gives His Spirit, for which He prepares a city, and appoints a kingdom.

Man is God's CHOICE. When angels sinned — He cast them out of heaven, bound them in chains of darkness, and doomed them to appear before His Son for judgment. There was no mercy for them. Not one of all their vast number was chosen. They were left to reap the due desert of their deeds.

Not so man. God saw that he would fall. He knew what he would become — and yet He chose out of fallen mankind, a number which no man can number to eternal life. "Lord, what is man, that You should choose him?" The only reply we can give is, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight."

Man is chosen in Christ — chosen to holiness — chosen to everlasting life — chosen to the highest honors, and the sweetest joys. How wonderful is God's grace — and His ways are past finding out. What an overwhelming thought for a sinner to cherish in his bosom, "I am God's choice! God has chosen me to salvation! God has chosen me of His own mere grace! God has chosen me, who deserved and must have sunk to hell — if left to myself! God has chosen me to be His child, the object of His love, and to share in all the glories of His heavenly kingdom!

Man is God's COMPANION. He is to walk with God. He is called to have fellowship with God, He is directed to pour out his heart before God. He is to treat God with confidence, communicating everything to Him, asking everything of Him, and expecting every good thing from Him. God promises to visit him, to manifest Himself to him, and to dwell in him and walk in him. What astonishing grace! And will God, the great, the glorious, the holy God — take poor, sinful, vile, wretched man for His choice, His child, His companion? He will. He has done it. He is daily doing it. Even this moment He is saying to every believer, "Let me hear your voice, let me see your countenance; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely." 

What will renewed man BE? This is a question which no man can answer, for even the inspired Apostle John confesses his ignorance, "Beloved," says he, "now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be — but when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined — what God has prepared for those who love Him!"

Renewed man will be like Jesus. Man will be with God. Man will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of his heavenly Father. Man will see and hear and know, and possess, and enjoy — all he can possibly desire, all that his glorified nature is capable of. He will be more than unfallen Adam was, more than angels are, for he will be as nearly like God as perfected human nature can be made like the Divine.

Let us then meditate devoutly upon this glorious subject, let us endeavor to realize our interest in it, and let us pray the Holy Spirit to unfold and apply it to our souls — until filled with surprise, humility, and profound gratitude we exclaim with David, "Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him! Man is like to vanity, his days are as a shadow that passes away."

 

Christ's Estimate of His Church

"You are absolutely beautiful, My love; there is no spot in you!" Song of Solomon 4:7

Solomon's Song represents the love of Christ to His people, His admiration of them, and communion with them. Every spiritual person more or less understands it; but it requires deep spirituality, much intimacy with Jesus, and some knowledge of the manners and customs of the East — to fully enter into it. It is a most precious part of God's inspired Word. In the Old Testament, it is like Paradise among the gardens, or the tree of life among the trees of that garden. May the Holy Spirit lead us into it, and favor us with the rich enjoyment of the fellowship represented by it. 

The OBJECT of Christ's love, is His Church.

All that were given to Him by His Father.

All that are redeemed by His most precious blood.

All that are quickened and sanctified by His Holy Spirit.

Such He calls "My love." He compares them to a lovely and delicate woman.

In His view — she is incomparably beautiful; but in her own eyes — she is black, unsightly as the tents of Kedar. She sees so much of her own inward depravity, and feels so much of the working of the law of sin in the members — that she often loathes herself, and lying low at His feet, exclaims, "Behold, I am vile!"

In her conduct, she is represented as at times unstable and unkind; refusing to rise from the pillow of ease to admit her Beloved, though He was saturated with the dews, and called to her, saying, "Open to me, my love!" She was drowsy and cold, so that He had to call to her, invite her, and exhort her to rise up and accompany Him to enjoy the pleasures He had provided for her.

She was as timid as the dove, without heart or courage; which led Him to say, "My dove, who is in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me hear your voice, let me see your countenance; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely."

She was too pleased, intimate, and affected with the company of others; in consequence of which, he calls to her, saying, "You who dwell in the gardens with friends in attendance, let ME hear your voice!"

How exactly like us — so unstable, so unkind to Jesus, so dull and drowsy, so timid and fearful, so much taken up with the things of time. Yet her love to Him was sincere — and so is ours. We do love Him — though not so ardently as we wish. We are sincere — and we can often say, "You know all things — You know that I love You!" Even at the lowest, we can say, "You know that I desire to love You."

Yes, Jesus has our hearts; if we love anyone — we love Him. If we desire union with anyone — it is with Him. If we enjoy the company of anyone — it is His company. We have loved Him ever since He was made known to us by His Holy Spirit, and we love Him still. There have been interruptions in the exercise of our love — but it is still embedded in our hearts. We can find no substitute for Jesus, nor do we desire to find any. He is all our salvation, and all our desire. If we could love Him as we wish — our souls would be all on flame, and always on flame, with love to Him! 

The ESTIMATE Jesus has of His Church is, that she is absolutely beautiful, and without spot. "You are absolutely beautiful, my love." He views her now as she will be by-and-bye. She will be absolutely beautiful and faultless; as it is written, "Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish — but holy and blameless!"

He looked upon her with a lover's eyes — which overlooked all her defects, and fixed only on her excellencies. He admired the work of His own SPIRIT in her. That work is a holy work; a beautiful work; a work of the highest excellence. It produces love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, and faith — all of which are lovely in the eyes of Jesus.

"There is no spot in you." His perfect righteousness covers her — and hides every spot! Looking upon herself, she exclaims, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags!" Very unfit to be the bride of Him who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person. But, looking upon herself in Jesus, she says, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness; as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels!"

Precious Savior! You not only worked out this magnificent garment — but You put it upon our souls with your own hands! He has clothed me; He has covered me. Yes! Jesus makes us lovely — and then calls us so. His own graces adorn His beloved, His blood-bought bride, until, as it is said by the prophet, "Your renown went forth for your beauty; for it was perfect through My loveliness which I put upon you, says the Lord God."

Her perfect image was before Him — when He thus commended her, "You are absolutely beautiful, My love; there is no spot in you!" He saw the purpose of His Father fulfilled; the end of His work accomplished; as it is written, "For those God foreknew — He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. And those He predestined — He also called; those He called — He also justified; those He justified — He also glorified!" 

The TITLE by which Jesus calls His Church is, "My love." This expresses His choice of us, for He has chosen us to be His, from all around us. This expresses His preference of us, for He prefers His people to all the universe besides. This expresses His strong attachment to us, for His love is as strong as death, and stronger too. This expresses His high esteem of us, for He esteems His people even above angels. He saw the angels fall — and He did not take their nature to redeem them. But when His people fell — He assumed their nature, took their place, became their Substitute, died in their stead, went into heaven to plead their cause, and will soon come again to receive them to Himself! Well may He exclaim, "You have not chosen Me — but I have chosen you." "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you." O wondrous love! O more wondrous Lover!

Believer, Christ's views of you — are not like your own. He speaks of you in very different language — from what you would speak of yourself. He says, you are "absolutely beautiful; there is no spot in you;" and what He calls you — He will make you! He calls things that are not, as though they were — to express the certainty of their being so; because He is determined and engaged to make them so.

We shall soon be all that Christ says that we are! All His purposes towards us — are love. All His thoughts of us — are thoughts of love. If Christ thinks thus of us — never mind what others think; His thoughts are right — theirs are wrong; His are wise — theirs are foolish; His shall be realized — theirs disappointed. Christ often commends — when man condemns. His apostles, the first believers, and the holy martyrs, were condemned by man, and considered unfit to live! But Jesus commended, sustained, and will reward them.

As Christ speaks to us on earth, so He speaks of us to His Father in heaven. There He pleads our cause — because He loves us; there He will carry our cause — for He has wisdom, weight, and worth enough to do it. He opens His heart, expresses His desire, utters His will; saying, "Father, I will that those whom You have given Me, shall be with Me where I am — that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." Blessed be Jesus for His love, His love to us; for the revelation of His love in the Word; especially by His Spirit in the heart!

Let us therefore close our meditation in the language of Jude, "Now unto Him who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy; to the only wise God our Savior — be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever! Amen."

 

The Life of God in the Soul

True religion is not a religious form — but a LIFE. It is the life which God imparts — the life which God communicates in regeneration, and nourishes by his word, ordinances, and communion with himself. This inward principle of life develops itself in:
a life of faith in the Son of God;
a life of love, so that we love God, and everything that is godlike;
a life of holiness, so that we obey God — and in all we do, we seek to please him.

Not only so — but it constantly aspires to God as its author and source. It makes us devout, and the life we live is a life of devotion. In all that we do — we consult the will of God, we seek grace for its performance from God, and we desire most heartily to honor God. Originating as it does in God's sovereign will, flowing as it does from God's loving heart, and ascending as it does in devout exercises to God's gracious throne — it makes us godly, or godlike! It is this one thing which distinguishes God's family from the rest of mankind, and proves their election of God.

This life of God in the soul, is SPIRITUAL, manifesting itself in spiritual desires, and spiritual exercises. It gives us a taste for spiritual things, and requires to be sustained by spiritual provision — Christ, the bread of life — and the living water which He gives. It is energetic, and therefore it urges, and impels us — to perform spiritual duties, overcome all carnal customs and habits, and to seek conformity to Christ in all things.

This life of God in the soul, is USEFUL, not only to its possessor, as qualifying him for spiritual duties and privileges, and making him fit for heaven; but it always makes those in whom it dwells — useful to others, both saints and sinners. A useless man cannot have the life of God within him, for wherever it is, it makes him feel that he must be useful, must do good to others to some extent.

This life of God in the soul, is ETERNAL, it can never die — and never be destroyed. The soul is not more immortal, than is this life which God gives. Yes, outside of God himself, we know of nothing that is more certain of endless duration, than this life of God in the soul. It is the source of all that is holy, useful, happy, and glorious. He who has this life — can never perish, nor can anyone wrest him from the Savior's omnipotent hands!

This life of God in the soul, is for GOD'S GLORY. As it originated in his sovereign good pleasure — so it is communicated and is maintained for his honor. And as it is maintained for his honor — so it is designed and intended to advance his glory.

This life of God in the soul, will ultimately be therefore a life WITH GOD. We believe that we shall live with him. It brings us into his spiritual presence now — and gives us the enjoyment of his love. And it introduces us into his glorious presence at death — and then we shall have a life of perfect enjoyment, and purest pleasure forever! We will be as holy — as God is holy; as happy — as God is happy; as immortal — as God is immortal.

O what a prospect! What glory, what grandeur, what blessedness awaits us! The life of God, which now pants within us, and has to strive and do battle with the direful corruptions of the heart — the life which generates every good desire and every holy aspiration — the life which will not let us rest in forms, or live in sin — that life will soon burst forth in power, splendor, and immortal glory — and then we shall be satisfied, for we shall awake in our Savior's likeness!

 

Loving Rebukes

"As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent." Revelation 3:19

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word." Psalms 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees!" Psalm 119:71

"I know, O Lord, that in faithfulness You have afflicted me!" Psalm 119:75

As God loves his people with an everlasting love, he takes the deepest interest in their welfare, and rejoices to do them good. But love can frown as well as smile; rebuke as well as commend; and God's rebukes are often very pointed, and very sharp. "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten." Of one thing we may be sure, he never rebukes us for doing right, nor does he chasten us without reason. Whenever we feel the rod of God — we may be sure that we deserve it; and whenever our Heavenly Father rebukes us — we may rest satisfied that we are wrong. The most tried — have often the clearest proofs of the Lord's love. And when the Lord afflicts — he especially comforts.

Mary Scott was in a good situation, enjoyed many privileges, and was doing well; but she got vain, dressy, and carnally-minded. She thought too much of earthly things, and too little of heavenly things — and at length you could discern but little difference between her and the world! The Lord then laid His afflictive hand upon her — she fell sick, had to leave her pleasant situation, her little all was soon spent — and she is now poor, and totally dependent on friends.

But God has attended the painful dispensation with His blessing — so that she is now humble, spiritual, and heavenly-minded. Worldly things have lost their charms — and spiritual things appear all-important. She now deeply deplores her former worldly course. Her Bible is now her precious companion, and she finds sweet access to God at the throne of grace. She now looks forward to Heaven, rejoicing that there shall be no more pain, nor sorrow, nor crying. She often blesses God for her affliction! This was a loving rebuke from her heavenly Father!

Thomas Davy was rising in the world, his business increased, his name gained reputation, and he began to look important. He had been a simple believer in the Lord Jesus, he loved his Bible and his prayer-closet, and always filled his place in the church. He would speak well upon spiritual and experimental subjects, and enjoyed the company of the saints. But, poor fellow, he could not stand prosperity. He became proud. His Bible was very much neglected. Prayer, especially family prayer, became formal and lifeless. The ordinances were slighted, and when he did attend, he was nearly always late. He never sought the company of the most spiritual Christians — but was taken up with men of business. He was at his business books now, when he used to be at the prayer-meeting; and his relish for spiritual things appeared to be lost.

Under these circumstances, God came forth to rebuke him. He had several losses, his speculations failed and business struggled. He could not meet his bills, and his creditors threatened him. Poverty stared him in the face, and he knew not what to do. He felt his distance from God, and how ungrateful he had acted. His conscience reproached him, Satan harassed him with temptations, and he was at his wits' end.

But when thoroughly convinced of sin and folly, he returned unto the Lord with weeping and with supplication. Broken-hearted and cast down — he appealed to the Divine mercy, and God restored unto him the joys of his salvation. He now walks humbly with God, is jealous of his own heart, and often prays with Agur, "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." This was a loving rebuke from his heavenly Father!

Eliza Brown was naturally proud and high-minded, and thought only of her figure and personal attractions. Being brought to know the Lord — for a time she walked wisely, and was happy in God. But she gave way to her natural besetting sin of pride, carried her head high, and her heart became haughty. She soon lost the humility that was manifest in her life. Meekness and gentleness seemed to forsake her — and she became spiritually dry and barren. For a time this was allowed to continue — but at length the Lord came forth to rebuke her. He smote her with a disease which deprived her of strength, destroyed her beauty, and left her deformed!

At first, her heart rose in opposition to God — she kicked like a wild bull caught in a net, and spoke harshly of God. But the Lord followed her with stroke upon stroke, until at length her proud spirit yielded, she fell down before God, confessing her sin, and mourning over her rebellious feelings. Then the Lord sweetly breathed upon her soul, and she felt a sweet peace of mind, her heart melted like wax before the fire, and she cried, "Lord, do with me as seems good to You." Meekness, humility, submission, and acquiescence in the will of God now characterize her. And, though at times she finds the old feelings arise, and her natural pride work — she daily seeks grace from God, to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. This was a loving rebuke from her heavenly Father!

James Grant was a genuine Christian, and walked closely with God. But he was led into temptation, and gave way to the tempter. He soon experienced the hardening tendency of sin, and distance from God was the result. His tenderness of conscience forsook him, a spirit of levity and frivolity seized him, and he strayed yet farther from God. His faithful pastor reproved him — but he took offence. Christian friends expostulated with him — but he wished them to mind their own business. At length, for a time he seemed to be given up by God, though he never threw off the profession of religion, or neglected many of its outward forms. The God of love is patient, and is kind; and so it was in this case.

But at length the afflictive stroke fell. Rheumatic fever seized him. The pain was excruciating. The weakness was excessive. He was a mere babe in strength, and was racked with pain. Often in the deepest agony of soul he cried to God — but there was no answer. He prayed — but no notice seemed to be taken of his prayers. His was now a gloomy case. He had to do business in deep waters — all the waves and billows of distress and sorrow seemed to go over him. He reviewed his past life, condemned his sinful conduct, was filled with self-loathing, threw himself down into the dust before God, and justified him in his holy severity. He acknowledged that Hell, and the lowest place in Hell — was his desert, and he sunk into self-despair.

And now, when all hope of deliverance seemed to be taken away — the Lord appeared for him, and turned his captivity. Once more, he crept to the cross. Once more, he gazed upon his crucified Savior — until his heart was filled with grief, and his eyes with tears. And while his eyes were intently fixed upon the cross — he felt a softness creep over his soul, a sense of pardon was realized. and joy and peace in believing were again enjoyed. The Lord restored his soul, and not only so, he healed his body, returned him to his position in society, saying, "Go, and sin no more!" This was a loving rebuke from his heavenly Father!

"As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten." If therefore the Lord loves us — we must expect to be rebuked by him when we turn out of the godly path. Often shall we need it — and as often shall we receive it. Never let us turn a deaf ear to his kind rebukes — but take them all as flowing from his infinite love. And whenever smitten either in body or soul, personally or relatively — let us say with the Church, "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord." And if upon diligent search we find that we have wandered, or withdrawn our hearts from God — let us adopt the language of one of old, "I will go, and return to my first husband, for then was it better with me than now." But never let us give way to the thought that God is turned against us, or is changed in his love to us; seeing he has sworn that he will not be wrathful with us, nor as a judge rebuke us. It is love, paternal love, which rebukes us; and it is for our profit, and to make us partakers of his holiness.

 

The Wise Choice!

"Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42

Even Christians do not always choose wisely — but Mary did. We often manifest our folly in our preference — but she displayed her wisdom. She chose to sit at the feet of Jesus as a humble learner — she . . .
loved His person,
admired His preaching,
desired to learn His doctrine,
and above all to imbibe His spirit.

Her object was communion with Him — in which we become conformed unto His image. She preferred fellowship with Jesus — to all anxious concern about entertaining Him as her guest. She preferred this to the commendations and praises of her visitors and friends. In her preference she revealed . . .
great spirituality of mind;
true wisdom and discernment;
attachment to her Lord and His doctrine;
deadness to the world and its vain formalities;
a concern for the present welfare of her own soul;
and a willingness to renounce all for Jesus.

Happy Mary! Honorable woman! May you be my pattern! Your choice was wise; your part was a worthy portion; and your example is held up for our imitation.

How many choose what they cannot keep — and prefer what they must part with. Many things we must lose — others we may lose.

A good name and reputation may be sullied by the breath of slander, or stolen by the unmerciful tale-bearer. If we possess it, we are not sure that we shall retain it.

The esteem and honor of friends, is a lovely flower; but the frost of adversity may nip it; or the scorching heat of persecution may destroy it.

Our prospects in life may be as attractive as the May-day morning; but the thunder-cloud of bereavement may overshadow it; and the dispensations of a wise and holy Providence may entirely change it.

Our gifts and abilities, which please us and profit others, may be removed by fevers, the paralyzing stroke, or the judgments of an offended God.

Yes, our temporal and spiritual comforts may all be removed from us, if we choose and prefer them to Mary's portion.

But a place at the feet of Jesus, an interest in His love, fellowship with Him — if these are preferred, they can never be taken away!

If grace brings us in humility to the Savior's feet;
if we really enjoy communion with Him more than the fleeting pleasures of time;
if an interest in the blessings of the glorious gospel is once realized;
if love to Jesus once reigns in the heart;
if the promise pleaded is acknowledged at the throne of grace;
if hope, blooming with immortality, springs up in the soul;
and if faith lays hold of the Redeemer's love, power, and atoning blood
 — then we have a portion of which we cannot be deprived! Then . . .
  Hell
may oppose us — but we shall prevail,
  the world may persecute us — but we shall overcome,
  trials
may press us — but our strength will be equal to our day.

At the feet of Jesus we are safe — no enemy can overcome us there!

At the feet of Jesus we are holy — no sin can gain dominion there!

At the feet of Jesus we are happy — no trouble can be too much for us there!

My soul, choose Mary's place — and Mary's portion. There is a place at the feet of Jesus for you! The good part may be obtained and enjoyed by you — and once obtained, your Lord will not allow you to be deprived of it.

Reader, there is a place also for you! You may sit by the side of Mary.

Your sin is no obstacle in the way — for Jesus will pardon that!

Your unworthiness is no barrier — for it is the worthless sinner's place!

Oh, come to Jesus now,
take your place at His feet now,
sit down as one who intends to remain,
listen to His sweet voice,
receive His holy doctrines,
taste His precious love,
rest your soul on His atoning blood —
and Heaven will immediately begin in your soul!

 

PURIFYING

"I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your tin." Isaiah 1:25

In the dealings of the Lord with Israel, we have a pretty clear representation of his dealings with his people in general. All was based on mercy, and was intended to display the holiness, justice, and grace of the Divine nature. If they sinned — he corrected them; if they repented and returned to him — he pardoned them. While they continued obstinate — he continued to strike them; until at length, he is determined to overcome, and special mercy steps in. Thus it was in Isaiah's time, and the Lord said, "I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your tin." Thus the Lord, at times, speaks to us. 

The WORK to Be Effected. PURIFICATION.

"I will thoroughly purge away your dross," which may represent our worldliness, formality, and unbelief; which like dross, mixes with the pure metal and debases it.

"I will remove all your tin," or self-righteousness, which like tin is light, glittering, and base — not to be compared with pure silver. When the ore is put into the fire — the dross rises, spreads over the metal, obscures it, and causes disturbance. Just so, when the Lord puts his people into the furnace:
the hidden corruptions of the heart rise,
they spread over the whole soul,
they obscure all our evidences,
they burden and deject the spirit,
they disturb and distress the mind,
they afford matter for Satan to work upon,
and awaken fears and inquiries.

The purifying process is at times very severe, and we require to be kept long in the furnace. While passing through it, we often draw wrong conclusions, we write bitter things against ourselves, and are tempted to give all up for lost. There is so much dross, that we conclude there is nothing else, and corruption rises so thick and fast, that we doubt whether we have the grace of God at all. But as painful as is the experience — it is necessary, it is beneficial, and will glorify the great Purifier at length. 

The AGENCY Employed. "I will turn MY HAND upon you." The Lord purifies us with his own hand. By his hand, we understand his wisdom and power combined — or his special and particular providence. His hand sustains, carries, supplies, and blesses his people. It produces, directs, and uses afflictions, trials, and sufferings for our good. As his grace is set upon sanctifying us — his providence kindles the fire, and then comes trouble, trial, and affliction; these act on the soul as fire on the ore — and separate the precious from the vile!

Mark how he represents it, "I will turn my hand upon you." With a turn of the hand — he changes our circumstances, and brings us into the severest trials. He does it easily — and he does it effectually too. He purges thoroughly. He purges away all the dross — and takes away all the tin. He makes thorough work of i —  and will get great glory by it. 

The Object in View. He intends to make us PURE, like pure gold or choice silver — free from all dross.

Bright and shining — that we may catch and reflect the rays of his glory.

Beautiful and ornamental — that we may be fit to adorn the house not made with hands.

Valuable and useful — answering his wise and holy purposes, being highly esteemed by him.

Righteous and faithful — answering to the requirement of his law, and honorably maintaining our profession.

In a word, he intends to make us pure and holy, like his own beloved Son — thus answering our prayers, accomplishing his own gracious purpose, and fulfilling his great and glorious promises.

Beloved, let us expect trials and afflictions. They are appointed for us. The hand of God will bring them upon us. Let us therefore be prepared for them, that they may not come upon us unawares.

See the cause of many of our trials: there is dross and tin which needs removing — and nothing but such trials and troubles will remove them. God does not afflict willingly — but only when circumstances call for it. Nor are afflictions sent in wrath — but in love, showing the value that he sets upon us, and his determination to remove our dross from us.

Observe the design he has in view — to purify and thereby render us more valuable, bright, and beautiful. It is his will that we should be sanctified — therefore it is his will that we should be afflicted and tried. Let us look upon our afflictions — as coming from God. It is his turning his hand upon us. His wisdom plans, and his power executes — all his designs. Troubles do not spring out of the dust — but are sent by God for a purpose worthy of himself. Let us then seek to hasten the end intended.

As soon as the metal is refined — the fire will be drawn. As soon as we are purified and made white — our afflictions will terminate. Let us not then despise the Lord's chastening — as though it was not necessary; nor let us faint — as if it was unnecessarily severe. For whom the Lord loves — he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. Hear God's purpose, and mark his end, "I will bring the third part through the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The Lord is our God.'" Zechariah 13:9

 

Exhortation and Encouragement

The Lord's servants are apt to get disheartened and discouraged. They imagine that they are laboring in vain, and spending their strength for nothing. They therefore need encouragement, even an apostle did, and therefore we find the Lord speaking to Paul, and saying, "One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city!" Acts 18:9-10.

We know not where the Lord's people are—but he does. Nor do we know whether we are to be used in converting souls, or whether our word shall effect their hearts. We know that we have a work to do for God, and we should do it; and if tempted to give way to discouragement, let us listen to—

The EXHORTATION. "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent." There may be opposition, persecution, and even death standing in the way—yet should we not fear. Paul was afraid at Corinth, as he tells them afterwards, "I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." 1 Corinthians 2:3-5. In Corinth he had to face learning, refined culture, and splendor—and he was anxious so to adapt himself to circumstances as to "save some." He was afraid lest by any indiscretion, he "should hinder the gospel of Christ."

But fear may become extreme, and hinder instead of help, and therefore the Lord spoke to him, and said, "Do not be afraid!" There was in reality no need for fear. God was with him. God could protect him, and he would. God could bless and render his labors effectual, and he would. Therefore he says, "Speak, and speak out, let them hear the truth, and the whole truth. Speak openly, speak boldly, speak fearlessly; and speak of Christ and of him crucified, as the wisdom of God, the power of God, and the salvation of God!" "Do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city!"

And mark—The Encouragement. "I am with you!" And if God was with him—then he was a match for every foe, and would rise superior to every difficulty. If God is with us, his wisdom will mark out our way and our work; his power will enable us to do his will, and render our labors efficient; and his care will provide for and supply—all our needs.

"No one is going to attack and harm you." They may hate, ridicule, and attempt to harm us—but without God's permission, they cannot injure a hair of our heads! However wrathful they are—they are powerless; and the wrath of man shall praise him, and the remainder thereof he will restrain.

"I have many people in this city!"

What kind of a city was it?

One of the most voluptuous, wealthy, and worldly cities of the east. Here was the temple of Venus, with its degrading and disgraceful services. God's jewels are often found buried in the worst filth! In their experience the startling truth is illustrated, "Where sin abounded—grace did much more abound."

What kind of people were they?

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God!" 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

This is the apostle's own reply to the question, and it was in order that they may be washed, sanctified, and justified—that he was to continue there, and boldly preach God's Word.

Were they the Lord's, while in such a state? They were, for he said, "I have," not "I will have," but "I have many people in this city." Then the Lord knew them—before he called them. He had chosen them—before he sent the gospel to them. He claims them—before he converts them. He only accomplishes by his gospel now, what he had purposed long ago, in eternity past! He foreknew, he predestined, he called, he justified, he glorified. Such is God's order. Such is God's plan.

Observe: the Lord's people are often found in the most unlikely places! Who would have expected to find God's chosen people, a multitude of them—in a place so foul, so polluted, so degraded—as Corinth?

The Lord chooses the most unlikely people! Who would ever have thought that the Lord would have chosen: the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers—to be saved? But he did! God's people are picked off the foulest dunghills!

Who would have thought that God would have chosen the weak, the base, the despised, and the contemptible? And yet he did, as the apostle declares, 1 Corinthians 1:27-29.

O the wonders of sovereign grace!

O how marvelous are the thoughts, purposes, and ways of God! The Lord effectually calls because he claims. Those whom God calls by his grace, were chosen to life, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and predestined to the adoption of sons. God's work cannot be frustrated. He is never at a loss for means, nor can God's means fail of accomplishing his ends. He says, "I will work:" and he asks, "Who shall hinder Me?" Lost sinners are in God's hand—and he will bind their power, nor permit them to frustrate his designs.

"No one is going to attack and harm you." We are immortal until our work is done! Therefore let us not fear, nor yield to discouragement—but speak, and speak boldly—and expect God to bless our efforts!

"Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city!"

 

What Do You Want?

The other night I heard a poor child cry bitterly, and its unfeeling mother was very angry; at length in a very angry tone she cried out, "What do you want!" It did not require much discernment to see what the little thing needed. I could have told her.

It was hungry—and wanted food;
it was cold—and wanted different clothing;
it was filthy—and wanted washing;
and it was weary—and wanted rest.

As I went along musing, I thought that child is the picture of an awakened sinner; and the wants of the one—resemble the wants of the other. Perhaps some poor, fretful, troubled spirit, may read these lines, scarcely knowing its own wants; or the eye of someone may alight upon them who has a friend, or some other relative, in a low, depressed, and sorrowful condition—and who is ready to ask them, "What do you want?" If so, I can tell you, as in the former case, the poor thing wants—

FOOD. Food for the soul. It has been quickened by the Holy Spirit, and has an appetite for spiritual provision. A deep inward craving of spirit is felt, which nothing can satisfy but the bread of life. Christ, in his person, Christ in his work, and Christ in his love and power—must be the food of the soul. To read of Christ, to think of Christ, and to commune with Christ—is to feed on Christ; and feeding on Christ revives, refreshes, and satisfies the soul.

The poor, timid, doubting child of God is apt to get fretful; it wants to realize its interest in Christ, to enjoy the presence of Christ, and to feel the sweet constraining power of the love of Christ. The Lord's people should be well fed. There is plenty of food in God's Word, and in our Father's house there should always be bread enough and to spare. Let the Lord's servants always place plenty of living bread on the Lord's table, that if any of the prodigals who begin to be in want should come in—they may eat and be satisfied. And whenever we meet with any of the children of Zion, fretting, crying, and moaning—let us hand them a little of this bread that they may eat and bless the Lord.

They want not only food, but—

CLOTHING. By nature we are clothed in filthy rags; when first awakened, we try to clothe ourselves with fig leaves, or something equally unsuitable. But we are soon pinched with cold, and are ashamed to appear in public. The thought of appearing before God clothed only in our own righteousness, fills us with fear, and makes us cry out, "O wretched man that I am!" We not only suffer from fear—but we begin to want to appear at least decent, then befitting, and at length glorious.

When we perceive the beauty of Christ's perfect robe of righteousness, and the comforting nature of the garments of salvation, we want to possess them, put them on, and wear them. And as they are provided for the poor, the destitute, and the naked—a hope springs up that we may possess them. Then we apply for them, are clothed with them, and feel happy in them. Now we rejoice in the Lord, and our souls are joyful in our God. We no longer weep, or complain, or sigh; for we are warm, peaceful, and safe!

Our garments not only shield us from cold—but adorn us! They not only adorn us—but justify us.

Weeping penitent! come to the wardrobe of Free Grace and be clothed! Naked sinner! come to Jesus, he will . . .
not only cover—but clothe;
not only clothe—but adorn;
not only adorn—but make you glorious!

Believer, always appear in your best clothing. Before God, wear only the righteousness of Jesus. Before men, appear in the garments of sanctification, and exhibit the works and graces of the Spirit.

They want not only clothing, but—

CLEANSING. The Lord never puts the fine linen of his Son's righteousness on a filthy sinner—simply to hide his pollution, and his shame; but he cleanses when he clothes! In the fountain which is opened for sin and uncleanness, by his word and by his Spirit—he makes the polluted sinner clean; and he clothes and adorns those whom he has cleansed.

Not only so—but however filthy the soul may have been in its habits, tastes, and ways—it imbibes at once, a hatred to all uncleanness, and a love to all that is chaste, pure, and lovely.

Nor are we merely cleansed once for all—but the fountain is always open, the laver is always full! And as we daily need cleansing—we can daily wash and be clean.

Our wedding robe never needs washing—for it never soils, no spot or stain was ever seen on it; but our persons and our daily dress need continual washing—and we must wash and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.

O precious fountain that . . .
cleanses from all sin,
takes out all stain,
removes every spot,
makes the most polluted—to be as clean and as pure as a holy angel!

Come then, you poor, polluted, filthy souls, come to the fountain! Come, wash and be clean!

Come, daily, and wash away your daily stains!

Come, for you are welcome!

Come, for the Lord wishes you to come!

Come, be cleansed, be clothed, be fed!

They want not only washing—but—

REST. The Lord's little ones want rest. Burdened with guilt, laden with cares, and weakened with sorrows—they are weary. Weary of the world. Weary of sin. Weary of toiling at the law. Weary of living upon husks. Weary of themselves. Weary of almost everything—they need rest. They have tried to find rest in duties, in ordinances, in something within them — but have been painfully disappointed. There is no rest for an awakened sinner, anywhere but in Christ. He cannot rest until he realizes that he is safe.

Could the manslayer rest while pursued by the avenger of blood? Can the porter rest while he carries the heavy load on his back? Can the excavator rest while working in the rocky soil? No more can a sinner rest—while he fears the wrath of God; while he feels the guilt of sin, or strives to keep the law. But coming to Jesus—He removes the burden, rescues from the claims of the law, and satisfies the demands of justice.

No bed of down was ever so soft to the laborer's weary body—as the perfect work and precious promises of Jesus are to the poor law-condemned sinner. "Come," he says, "come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!"

And his rest is glorious.

His rest is permanent.

His rest is sweet.

Weary sinner, come, O come to Jesus, and you shall find rest—soul rest, everlasting rest!

Had the crying child, who suggested these remarks been fed with wholesome food, clothed with suitable and sufficient garments, been cleansed from its filth, and been laid on a warm soft bed—its crying would have ended, and its rest would have been most sweet.

Just so sinner, so will it be with you—if you come to Jesus.

He will feed you—and satisfy the cravings of your soul.

He will clothe you—and so clothe you, that you will not envy an angel.

He will cleanse you—and make you perfectly clean.

He will give you rest—sweet, soothing, refreshing rest, such as the weary weeping babe enjoys as it slumbers on the soft bosom of its loving mother.

To Jesus then! To Jesus hasten—all you hungry, naked, filthy, weary souls!

Hasten to Jesus then—and he will, in one word, bless you with every blessing, and save you with an everlasting salvation!

 

Is this like Jesus?

CONSCIENCE is often a faithful monitor, a powerful reprover, and a wise instructor. If conscience is enlightened by God's truth, cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and kept tender by the communion of the Holy Spirit — it should always be attended to, and its admonitions should be carefully regarded. Such a conscience will propose questions, draw comparisons, and quote scriptures — which will do us immense good. Treat conscience aright — and it will be your best friend; use it improperly — and it will be your most terrible foe. If then conscience speaks — let us listen to it; and if it prompts — let us obey it. The sentence of conscience — is next to the sentence of God; and the authority of conscience — is only just below the authority of God. But how will an enlightened and honest conscience instruct and reprove us? Take one view of the subject, and one only.

A Christian man gets out of temper. He feels angry. He speaks rashly. His eyes flash fire. He is almost as ready to act, as inconsistently as he feels. Conscience, is quiet until the storm begins to abate, and then it calmly whispers, "Is this like Jesus?" Now the good man admits that he ought to be like Jesus. He desires and prays that he may be made like Jesus. The question is, therefore, like a thunderbolt. It almost crushes him. He feels condemned. He turns the whole torrent of his wrath against himself, and perhaps exclaims, "Like Jesus! No, it is more like the devil!" He sinks in his own estimation. He hides his head before God. He loathes himself. Yes, he abhors himself. At length, in the dust of self-abasement he confesses his sin before God, pleads the blood of Jesus for his pardon, beseeches the Lord to send the Spirit to sanctify his nature, and to give him power over his irascible temper. Not for one moment will he attempt to justify himself, or plead the weakness of human nature — but taking to himself all the blame, he creeps like a well-whipped child into his Father's presence, and prays for restoration and peace.

A believer is tempted to idle his time, wrap up his talent in a napkin, and indulge himself in questionable amusements. Many excuses are presented to him, the flesh pleads piteously, and he listens to it. He becomes idle, slothful, and comparatively unconcerned for the glory of God. Conscience for a time seems to slumber — but at length with a stern strong voice it asks, "Is this like Jesus?" He remembers his Master's words when but a child, "I must be about my Father's business!" and the testimony of the apostles flashes across his mind, "He went about doing good." The panorama of his Lord's life is spread out before him, and he sees no self-indulgence, no wasting of the Lord's money, no idling or losing of precious time there. He knows that Jesus has left us an example, that we should follow in his steps, and that he said, "You should do as I have done."

He is perhaps tempted to frame an excuse, or yield to temptation — but again conscience, speaking louder and with more authority, asks, "Is this like Jesus?" He is obliged to acknowledge it is not, to admit his guilt, to seek for more grace, and again bow to the command, "Occupy until I come."

Many similar cases may be adduced — but these two are enough. They show the value, importance, and blessedness, of having an honest, enlightened, and tender conscience. Beloved, have you such a conscience? My soul, have I? We ought to have. Let us therefore ascertain for certain, whether we have, or have not. If we have, let us encourage it, and bow to its authority, next to the word of God. If we have not, let us take it to the blood of atonement — to be cleansed, to the word of God — to be enlightened, and to the Spirit of God — to be made honest and tender.

Let us take the question we have supposed to be proposed for our daily use, and in all our transactions with our fellow men, in all our conduct toward God, and in all we do, both in public and private, let us test it by this, "Is this like Jesus?"

Is it like Jesus — to be so irritable, so hasty, so unkind?

Is it like Jesus — to be so resentful, or spiteful, or sulky?

Is it like Jesus — to be so hard, overreaching, or covetous?

Is it like Jesus — to be so vain, so foolish, so full of jests?

Is it like Jesus — to be so dull, so gloomy, so forbidding?

Is it like Jesus — to be so dissatisfied with my lot, to murmur on account of my circumstances, or to complain of my afflictions?

Is it like Jesus — to be so self-willed, so self-confident, so self-conceited?

Is it like Jesus — to be so exacting, so ready to take offence, so backward to forgive?

Reader, is your spirit, temper, disposition, and daily conduct — like Jesus? It should be. Are you holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners? You ought to be.

Surely if we tried ourselves thus — if we often called ourselves to account as we ought — we would have more humility — and less pride; more spirituality — and less worldliness; more of the temper of Christ — and less of the spirit of Satan. We would have more frequent dealings with the blood of Jesus; we would walk closer with God; we would depend more on the Holy Spirit; and we would adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, more than we do.

We would treat the world, more as it befits a child of God — we would set our affections more on things above; and we would be more prepared than we are, for the coming of the Savior. Satan would not so easily get an advantage over us; the world would not so frequently ensnare us; nor would the flesh get such fearful conquests over the spirit!

Let us then, as we value our own peace, as we are concerned for the honor of God, as we desire the welfare of this poor fallen world, as we feel our obligation to the Lord Jesus, and as we would be found prepared for glory — let us endeavor to act more like Jesus! And in order to this, let us make frequent use of this testing question, whenever our temper rises, or our lusts inflame us, or our tongues run too freely, or our conversation is not with grace, or we slight God's ordinances, or prefer the ease of the body to the prosperity of the soul — then let us press home the question, "Is this like Jesus?"

 

Man's Expulsion

This world at its creation, must have been a beautiful world, for God not only pronounced it good — but very good. But if the world was beautiful, what must Eden have been? A garden, the plan of which was conceived in the mind of God, and was intended to show forth his beauty, wisdom, and benevolence to man. Planted in a sunny climate, with every variety of fruit and flowers. Stocked with birds of beauteous plumage and enchanting song, with animals of every kind — but all docile, gentle, and full of affection. Provided with a helper, a social companion, the counterpart of himself. Man had everything to feast the senses — and delight the heart. He was happy — perfectly happy.

All things were placed at his disposal, and put under his control — except one tree. That tree was to be the test of obedience, and a standing witness of his accountability. What splendid possessions, what glorious prospects were his! But an enemy crept into that garden, he deceived the woman by his subtlety, and she fell. Not satisfied to fall alone, she solicited her husband, and with his eyes wide open, out of the depth of his affection — he put her in the place of God, and he fell too! The man, now vainly and wickedly imagined himself to be as God, and to have a right to the tree of life, therefore the Lord drove them out of Eden. Genesis 3:24.

He had been God's friend and favorite. He walked in sweetest communion with him, in the walks and groves of paradise. But now he was a criminal, convicted of crime. He was the enemy of God, and would if he could, usurp God's throne. His love to God, his sympathy with God, was gone. He was unfit to stand in God's presence, he had forfeited all claim to God's love. Paradise was no place for a rebel — he must therefore be expelled! He had heard his doom, he had preferred his own will to God's — and he must take the consequences.

But mercy was mingled with judgment. They were not turned out naked — God made coats of animal skins, and clothed them. They were not cast into hell — only driven out into the world. They had lost their characters, being convicted of theft, as thieves they were expelled. They had forfeited their situation, and without a character, and without a home, they were sent to till the ground, now under God's curse, and bringing forth thorns and briars as the evidence of it.

Poor guilty Adam! Poor unhappy Eve! And are these our parents! Are we the children of thieves and robbers? We are! Never then let us boast of our ancestry, or be proud of our descent; but in tracing our pedigree, let us look back far enough, and we shall see that we descended from a guilty, ungrateful, wretched pair! Will not this humble us? It ought to. Will not this stop all boasting? It should.

"He drove out the man." Was he willing to leave that enchanting spot? Did he draw back when he saw his deserved doom? If so, it was in vain. From Eden, he must depart. From the tree of life, he must be debarred. Into the world he must proceed — a godless, friendless, unhappy man! His wife was no longer the helper he needed — but was likely to increase his misery and aggravate his woe! His conscience, once his friend — was now his foe! Once it ministered only pleasure — but now it ministers condemnation and gloom! The world was before him — he might wander where he would. But go where he may — he carried the elements of his misery within him! He was now a weary, wandering, wretched, lost and ruined creature! The glorious garden was lost. His heart's peace was lost!

And now the words, "You will surely die!" rings through all the chambers of his soul. He must have thought, "What is dying? What is it to be dead?" O miserable man, to bring yourself into such a state — nor yourself alone — but all your unborn posterity! Here Adam leaves us: under condemnation — with a depraved nature; weary — and desiring rest; wandering — and needing a home; wretched — and requiring comfort; lost — and in need of a Savior.

Where Adam leaves us — Jesus finds us. He comes to deliver from guilt, to rescue from death, and to restore to God. He comes to give rest to the weary, comfort to the wretched, a home to the wandering, and salvation to the lost. He came to us — to seek and to save that which was lost. He invites us to come to him — as weary as we are, as thirsty as we are, as lost and ruined as we are — and promises to give us rest, to satisfy the cravings of our immortal nature, and to save us gratuitously and forever!

He receives all comers, nor was an applicant ever refused, or one that came, cast out. He reconciles the soul to God, harmonizing all the divine perfections in its salvation; and introducing it to a state of friendship and fellowship with God. He restores to the divine favor, and brings back peace into the conscience, and joy into the soul. He saves at once from condemnation, and from the power, dominion, and love of sin; and will save eternally from the curse and all the effects of the fall. He prepares for a state — better than that of unfallen Adam; and for a paradise — superior to that which God planted at the first. We lost much by Adam — but we gain more by Christ! And therefore, though we can never rejoice that we sinned, or that God was dishonored, and man made miserable by the fall; yet we shall rejoice, that God in his infinite wisdom, took advantage of Adam's fall, to raise us to greater glory, and fill us with sweeter joy — than would have been enjoyed, if Adam had never fallen!

But, as we are implicated in all the consequences of the fall — only by virtue of our union to, and descent from, Adam; so we can only be savingly interested in, and enjoy all the blessings of redemption — by virtue of union to Christ. We must have faith in Christ. We must be united to Christ. We must receive the Spirit from Christ. We must be conformed to Christ. Or we shall never be glorious and happy with Christ.

Adam was driven out of the garden — because he sinned; and we shall be admitted into heaven, into glory — because Jesus obeyed, and suffered. Adam's ruin was wholly of himself — it was entirely his own act and deed; our salvation is wholly of another — it is altogether through the doing and dying of Christ. Adam had to blame himself — and we have to praise the Savior.

Let us see to it then, that we truly believe in Christ, that we are truly united to Christ, otherwise we shall never be saved by Christ. And then let us rejoice, that though we lost our character, or righteousness — by Adam's sin; we have gained a far superior, and more glorious one — by Christ's obedience. "For as by one man's disobedience — many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one — shall many be made righteous."

 

Ruin and Redemption

Israel is the type and looking-glass of the church. In the heart of that people — we see our own hearts; and in the conduct of that people — we see our own conduct. They bring out God's character, and set before us the nature of the divine government. What they did — we do; and what the Lord did for them — he does for his people now.

When Israel was in bondage to the Chaldeans, and were groaning under their iron yoke, the prophet bore testimony against them, and delivered a gracious message from God to them. A message to exercise faith, excite hope, fire them with courage, and fill them with comfort. His message was, "Thus says the Lord: You have sold yourself for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money!" Isaiah 52:3.

Their conduct was dishonest, their sin was great, their situation was dreadful, their sufferings were extreme — and their deliverance was to be gratuitous. They were the authors of their own misery — and God alone would be the author of their deliverance. They suffered from their own sin — but they were to be delivered alone by his grace. Such is our condition; and, blessed be God — such is our mercy!

We have sold ourselves. Man was once free. He was holy. He was happy. No creature was more indulged in all God's universe. But he became dissatisfied with his lot. He listened to the tempter. He yielded to temptation. He got as far from God as he could. He surrendered himself into the hands of Satan. He came under the power and authority of the prince of darkness, who took possession of him, ruled him, and reduced him to a state of the most abject slavery! Thus he forfeited his liberty, his peace, his possessions, and his all!

He was now a traitor — a rebel in arms against God. He sympathized with Satan in his enmity to, and opposition against God. He sold himself, as far as he could, out of God's hands; and gave God's sworn foe the dominion over himself. It was his own act and deed. It was done willingly — for no coercion was employed. He did it knowingly — for he was not deceived. He did it, though warned against it, and threatened with terrible consequences if he did.

What he did — we as his posterity assented to. As soon as we were capable — we gave our consent to the bargain, and testified our approval of his conduct by imitating it as nearly as we could. We sold ourselves for nothing, for all we got for our bargain was vanity, falsehood, and suffering! O the folly we displayed! O the sin we committed! O the misery we entailed upon ourselves!

We sold ourselves — but to whom? Satan was the purchaser. He presented the bait — and we took it! He made the offer — and we accepted it! Thus we sold ourselves to the greatest tyrant, the most degraded being, the most hardened monster in the universe! By sin we subjected ourselves to him, and by sinning we continue under that subjection. God's justice had a claim upon us, and will not, cannot give up that claim — and therefore our purchaser is made both our jailor and our tormentor — and is employed by justice to inflict punishment upon us.

Sin not only gave Satan power over us — but delivered us over to death. We are therefore separated from God, the fountain of life; deprived of all moral and spiritual power; and are exposed to all the horrors of banishment from God, and the vengeance of eternal fire! In selling ourselves — we lost the freedom of the will, which came under a sinful bias, and we were enthralled by evil, and reduced to bondage by Satan. We parted with the purity and holiness of our nature — and became polluted and unclean. We gave up our rectitude and righteousness — and came under guilt and disgrace. Our conscience being defiled, turned against us; so that we became the slaves of fear and shame! Happiness and comfort — gave place to misery and woe! Health and strength — gave place to disease and weakness! And paradise, with all its beauty and blessedness — gave place to a waste-howling wilderness.

Thus we were degraded, rendered wretched, and exposed to all possible misery! Earth would have been turned into hell, and every one of us would have been tortured with black eternal despair — but for the mercy of God, who had thoughts of peace respecting us. The world, as bad as it is — is not what it would have been, if sin had been allowed to take its natural course. Man, suffer as he may — does not suffer as he would, if mercy had not interfered for him. We sold ourselves for nothing — but God determined that we should be redeemed.

The appointed Redeemer was his only begotten Son. He saw our state. He pitied our condition. He volunteered to effect our deliverance. In the covenant of grace it was arranged, that though he was God — he should become man. That though naturally incapable of suffering — he should be made capable of suffering, that by his sufferings, obedience, and death — he may give unto God a ransom for us. For if we were ever to delivered — our sin must be atoned for, the demands of justice must be met, and the penalty of death must be paid. Satan must be vanquished, death must be abolished, and a perfect righteousness, answerable to all the demands of the law, must be provided.

Here was work which no angel could perform! Here was a task which no created being could undertake! But Jesus had the ability — and he undertook the work. He alone had the love and compassion, necessary to induce him to the task. He alone had sufficient strength and wisdom, to undertake it. He alone could merit our release. He alone pay the price of our ransom. He alone would condescend to stoop so low, for such vile creatures, to effect such an astonishing deliverance.

He is our Redeemer — the Lord Almighty, is his name. He undertook the work, he gave himself as a ransom for us, and he will work out our complete deliverance from Satan, sin, death, hell, and the grave! Thus we are redeemed without money — but not without a price. We are redeemed without paying a price ourselves — but wholly, entirely, and altogether by another. What wondrous grace is here! How free! How sovereign! How glorious!

We stupidly, wickedly, inexcusably, sold ourselves to sin and Satan! We were the sole cause of our own ruin! He, out of his own pure love, undertook to be our Redeemer. He took our nature, became related to our persons, and so acquired a right to redeem; and having acquired the right, he exercised it; and at the expense of his own life — he redeemed us.

What love we owe him! What obedience we should render to him! What praise we should give him! Beloved, do you enjoy redemption? Do you know, love, and obey the Redeemer? Are you trusting in his precious blood, and in his almighty power, to complete your redemption?

If he has redeemed us from sin — he will deliver us from Satan — and ransom us from the power of the grave. Having begun the work — he will complete it, and all his redeemed will ultimately unite in the song, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

 

The Great Deceiver!

It seems to me, that in the present day, the agency, power, and determined activity of Satan, in doing mischief, is too much lost sight of. If he can get us to lose sight of his presence and power — he can carry out his schemes with so much the more ease. The representations given of him in God's word are calculated, if not to excite alarm, to make us cautious, careful and watchful. Just look at one, "That old serpent called the devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world." Revelation 12:9. Here is, 

Our ENEMY. He is represented by a great dragon; because so quick-sighted and cruel. None escape his notice, or remain unmolested by him.

He is "that old serpent," full of subtlety, craft, and cunning. He is powerful, far beyond what most give him credit for — and brings the experience of six thousand years to bear upon his victims.

He is called "the devil," a forger of calumnies, an accuser, who accuses the saints day and night.

He is also called "Satan," an adversary, a legal adversary, one who is well versed in the law, and who opposes the Lord's people in the court of justice.

He is full of bitter hatred to believers, because they love the Savior, and desire to honor him. His malice is deep and dreadful, which prompts him in every way to seek to injure them. He hates them because . . .
they have escaped out of his hand,
they oppose his kingdom and government;
they hate sin, and pant, and pray, and strive for holiness.

He is a terrible foe, for he never wearies, and though foiled a thousand times — he will renew the attack! If he knows that he cannot devour us, he will do all he can to worry us; and though we may be off our guard — he is never off his. 

His WORK. "He deceives the whole world." He delights to deceive, and he will do so on any point — but especially in reference to spiritual things.

He deceives by misrepresenting objects.

He represents sin as harmless, painful, pleasant, and much to be desired.

He represents holiness as repulsive, injurious, gloomy, and undignified.

He represents man to himself as innocent, injured, dignified, and deserving God's blessing.

He represents himself as man's friend, pitying, and wishing to elevate him, and make him happy.

He represents God as severe, cruel, revengeful, and almost implacable.

He represents the law as harsh, severe, and unnecessarily strict.

He represents the gospel as degrading to man, and very little better than the law.

He represents the Savior as a stern law-giver, an unbending judge, and one very difficult to please.

Indeed every spiritual object is misrepresented by him!

Then by prejudices, errors, or superstition — he . . .
blinds the mind,
conceals the true nature of the gospel,
and hides the Savior from man's view.
"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God!"

He is always on the watch when the Word is preached, endeavoring by himself or his agents, to snatch away the seed out of the heart, lest the sinner should believe and be saved.

He makes use of all kinds of error, and all sorts of false teachers, to . . .
hinder God's work,
eclipse the glory of the gospel,
and destroy the souls of men.

He counterfeits the work of the Holy Spirit, leading souls to rest in slight convictions, feeble impressions, false joys, natural excitement, or the performance of religious duties — and so stop short of Christ. He will do anything and everything — to keep the sinner from Christ, driving him to presumption or despair. If he can lull the soul into false security, his end is answered, and the doom of the poor creature is sealed!

If we were not so ignorant of his devices, or did not forget his unwearied activity, deep rooted malice, and fixed determination by all means to ruin souls — we would not speak of him as we do, or trifle with the representations of him in the scriptures as we do. 

The Extent of His SUCCESS. "He deceives the whole world!" He deceived the whole world at once, when he deceived our first parents, and led them into sin! He has been carrying on his work of deception ever since, in all places, under all circumstances — until the whole world lies in the Wicked One. The Church of God is rescued from his grasp, by sovereign and invincible grace; "being delivered from the power of Satan, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son." But outside the true church of Christ — Satan exercises authority, exerts his power, and deceives all but the elect. In all places, among all parties, and in all people — he works; exciting enmity against God, opposition to the gospel, and the indulgence of sin.

We were all under his dominion once. We loved his service, believed his lies, and — but for the mercy of God, would surely have perished in our sins! "When the strong man is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe — until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings."

All around us we see Satan working, deceiving, and leading souls captive at his will. This should make us think and act soberly, as Peter says, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour! Stand firm against him, and be strong in the faith."

It should lead us to walk carefully, for this old serpent is almost sure to be lurking in our path.

It should lead us to examine diligently, lest we should be deceived, for if he deceives the whole world, with all its learning, shrewdness, and knowledge — we may well examine carefully, lest he deceive us!

It should lead us to pray fervently. Think of the fascinating power of the dragon, of the subtlety of the old serpent, of the accusations of the devil, of the legal lore and wit of Satan, and say — have we not need to cry mightily to God, that he would keep us by his power, shield us by his presence, and preserve us by his grace unto his kingdom and glory.

It should lead us to watch daily, for in a sense, we are always in danger! If we sleep — Satan does not! If we are off our guard — he is ready to take advantage, in order to injure us.

It should also lead us to sympathize deeply with those who are overcome and deceived by him. The poor wretched backslider has been beguiled, bewildered, and led astray — and is at this very time in Satan's net! Let us not condemn too harshly, nor dwell too severely on his fault — we know not the degree of power exerted by Satan, the means he has employed, or the deception he has practiced upon the soul. We may condemn the sin, and reprove the folly — but we must exercise mercy toward the sinner.

Just so with the unsaved world, even when they hate us, persecute us, and reject the counsel of God against themselves — we must still pity them. What a fine example our beloved Lord sets us, when sinners had done their worst to insult, degrade, and make him contemptible; and when they were doing their worst to inflict pain and anguish upon him. He looked up to Heaven, exercised sympathy, and recognized the deceiving influence of Satan, and prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

So may we say of multitudes around us; and of more who are under the influence of popery, paganism, Mohammedanism, in far distant lands. They are deceived by Satan, the father of lies, who has succeeded in blinding their minds! The poor wretches go on in darkness; and unless they are plucked as brands from the burning — must perish in their sins. O for that sympathy that will pity, pray for, and send the gospel to them, that they may be saved!

O for wisdom to resist Satan, and overcome him!

 

The Shepherd Seeking the Lost Sheep

The conduct of the Lord Jesus was often misunderstood, and therefore his enemies complained and murmured against him. This was the case, especially with the Pharisees, for self-righteous people are generally very difficult to please! Sometimes he vindicated himself by a parable. Once when many publicans and sinners drew near to hear him, the Pharisees and Scribes murmured against him, calling him the friend of publicans and sinners; but he vindicated himself, and justified his conduct by this beautiful little parable.

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says: Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep!" Luke 15:4-6

1. Here is a representation of our character and condition. We are like sheep, naturally dissatisfied, prone to wander, and forgetful of God. All have an inward craving for something they have not; all are restless and uneasy; all have forgotten God their maker and owner. We are far from — the pasture provided, the fold, and the good Shepherd. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have each turned to his own way. We are strangers and aliens to God. Yes, we have wandered into sin and folly! We have turned our backs on God and his ways! We have run into imminent danger! We are far from God by wicked works. We are lost, and lost forever — if left to ourselves.

2. Here is a representation of the character and conduct of the Shepherd. He is caring, kind, and diligent. He cares for each one of his sheep, nor ever ceases caring for it — until it is safe. He is kind — and with loving eye he watches it, and with loving heart he yearns over it. He is diligent — and therefore if but one goes astray — he goes after it. He watches over the whole flock, and over every separate sheep. He perseveres in his attentions, until every one is eternally placed out of danger. He goes after every wanderer, and searches for it until he finds it. He takes it up in his arms, and lays it on his shoulder. He carries it right home, and fills heaven and earth with joy at its restoration. All his conduct towards it — is gentle, kind, and loving. He acquires the character of the good Shepherd — for he has even laid down his life for his sheep.

How highly Jesus prizes his sheep! He will not lose one of them. Wander where they will — he goes after them. Cost him what it may — he will recover and restore them. This is his glory, "Not one of them is lost!" What time and labor he spends on them. Time! From eternity his heart and his thoughts have been set on them! His mind has been full of them. Never for one moment can he forget them; nor does he think anything too hard to undertake for them. What patience and long-suffering he exercises towards them. No one else could bear what Jesus has. No one else could love as Jesus did. When their conduct was at the worst, he cried, "How can I give you up?" And he would sooner give up himself to suffer, bleed, and die — than part with them!

What amazing condescension he displays in dealing with them. He took their nature — that he may understand their case, sympathize with their infirmities, and make an atonement for their sins!

The reason why they all arrive safe at home is to be found in the vigilance of the Shepherd's eye, the length of the Shepherd's arm, the strength of the Shepherd's shoulder, and the veracity of the Shepherd's word: "They shall never perish!"

 

Jesus and the Sinner

The Son of God assumed the name of Jesus — to meet the sinner's case, disperse the sinner's fears, and assure the sinner's mind. And in all he has said in his word, and in all he has done, or is doing — he keeps the same end in view. TO the sinner, as a sinner — he speaks. FOR the sinner, as a sinner — he works. And the sinner, AS a sinner — he saves. He prescribes no tasks and he requires no sufferings — from us. But all that Jesus does for lost sinners — He does freely, out of pure pity, kindness, and love.

Yet we are always looking for something in ourselves — to encourage us! On the other hand, we tend to look at some sin committed by us — which discourages us. Whereas we should look only to Jesus. I want now, for a few minutes, to fix the eye of your mind on what Jesus does for sinners — how He acts toward them at the present day.

Jesus calls the sinner. He says, "Come unto Me. Come, just as you are. Come, this moment. Come, for all that you need. Come, for all that you desire. Come, and be saved. Come, and I will satisfy you. Come, and commit all your concerns to Me, and I will make all things that occur, work together for your good."  

Jesus receives the sinner when he comes. He receives every sinner, however base, vile, or unworthy he may be. He receives the sinner graciously, pardoning every sin, forgiving and forgetting all that he has done amiss, and treating him with the utmost kindness.

Jesus cleanses the sinner. In the fountain of His precious blood, and in the laver of His holy Word — he cleanses him from guilt and pollution — fitting him for holy service on earth, and for holier service in heaven. Nor is there any getting rid of guilt — but by His blood; nor of impurity — but by His Spirit working with His Word.

Jesus clothes the sinner. Cleansed from guilt and filth — we are clothed in His garments of salvation, and are covered with His robe of righteousness. All that is necessary for our honorable appearance in heaven among the glorified — He undertakes to provide.

Those who trust in Him, are completely nourished by Him. Jesus feeds the sinner. His flesh and blood becomes our daily food. We can no more live and be healthy, without nourishing food for the body — than we can live and be happy, without sweet and frequent nourishment from Christ. There is in the renewed soul — a craving for Christ, and it is never satisfied — but as it realizes His presence, meditates on His Word, or is solaced with His love!

Jesus employs the sinner. Having called, received, cleansed, clothed, and nourished him — He sets him to WORK. He gives him a cross to carry, and a plot in his vineyard to cultivate. He sends him to speak to others of His grace, and to manifest to others His temper and disposition. He sends him to the poor widow's cottage, to the sick man's chamber, and to the ignorant soul's home — and says, "Feed them for me, comfort them for me, and teach them for me!"

Jesus comforts the sinner. Yes, when he is depressed and discouraged, when he is low and cast down. He consoles by some special providence, by some seasonable portion of His Word, by the counsel of some friend, or by the sweet whispers of His Spirit.  

Jesus assures the sinner. Assures him of His love to him, of a saving interest in His finished work, and of a title to heavenly mansions! When Jesus assures us — our doubts and fears depart, our unbelief is destroyed, and our souls are filled with peace and joy.

Jesus visits the sinner. He says, "I will come unto him." And He does come, and brings with Him — pleasant light, precious fruits, and joy and peace. He says, "I will come and sup with him — and he with Me." And He draws him out into such sweet, near and dear communion with Himself — that no costly meal, no delightful company — can be compared to it.

Jesus restores the sinner. For as astonishing as it may appear, it is nevertheless true — that we are prone to wander!
We leave light — for darkness!
We leave plenty — for poverty!
We lave joy — for sorrow!
We leave a paradise — for a desert!
And having wandered, we would never find our way back — if He did not come after us! But, blessed be His holy name — He does! And then He restores our souls, and again feeds us in green pastures, causing us to lie down beside the still waters!

Jesus reproves the sinner. However He may spare our persons — He never spares our sins! He visits our transgressions with the rod, and our iniquities with stripes! His reproofs are often sharp. Cutting convictions, heavy losses, severe trials, perplexing troubles, bodily sickness, and painful bereavements — are some of the means He employs. These are His RODS! But however numerous and heavy his strokes — they are lighter than our guilt, and fewer than our sins! He deals with us as with sons. He chastens us for our profit — and to make us partakers of His holiness!

Jesus glorifies the sinner. Glorifies him with Himself — and confers on him an eternal weight of glory! What it is to be glorified — we do not fully know. At the least, it is to be freed from all that is sinful, painful, and degrading — and to be invested with all that is bright, beautiful, and blessed. It is to be made as like Jesus as possible, and to be with Him where he is forever!

O wondrous grace, of a wondrous Savior!

Reader, Jesus has called you to him — have you attended to his call? He calls you again now, by the reading of these remarks — will you arise and go? Jesus receives sinners — has he received you? If not, he is willing, he is waiting still. You may be received and saved forever.

Jesus cleanses sinners — has he cleansed you? Is your guilt gone? Is your heart purified? If it is not — the fountain is still open, and Jesus is still willing to wash you as white as snow!

Jesus clothes and adorns sinners; has he clothed you with his righteousness, and adorned you with the graces of his Spirit? If not, it is not too late yet. The wedding garment — may be received. The robes of salvation — may be obtained. A title to heaven and a fitness for glory — may be acquired. But delay not — or it may be too late. The door is open now — but it may soon be shut. The Savior is on the throne of grace now — but he may soon leave it for the bench of justice, and then your doom is sealed forever!

Believer, this precious Savior is yours. You know him, for you came when he called you, you were received when you came, and you have been cleansed and clothed. You are fed by Jesus now. You enjoy the comforts of his love, and are assured by his Spirit and word. He visits you, and employs you. He restores and reproves you. And, O wondrous grace — he will soon glorify you!

Will you not love him then? Will you not observe his statutes and keep his laws? Will you not come out of the world, which is peopled by his enemies, and be separated to him? Will you not bear witness to the power and sweetness of his love, to the joy and happiness that is found in his ways? Can you mingle with the carnal, frequent places of worldly amusement, and so bring up an evil report of the land, as if religion was not happiness, and you must go to the world to be gratified and amused? Beware how you wound your precious Savior's loving heart! Beware how you grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you are sealed unto the day of redemption! Beware, lest by anything you say or do — you cast a stumbling block in the way of sinners, over which they may fall into hell!

 

Comfort for the Christian

"Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things!" Matthew 6:32

The Lord Jesus, as the great teacher, is instructing his disciples in the doctrine of divine providence, and teaching them to exercise faith in God. He tells them that God feeds the sparrows, and clothes the lilies—and therefore, He will not neglect, or refuse to feed and clothe his redeemed children.

He would have them to act like his children. Children who view the Most High God as their Father. Children who are absolutely dependent upon him. Children who look to him for all; and expect him to supply them with all. This is our position. This is our privilege. Yes, this is our duty. 'Worry' is never fitting for a child of God. Anxiety is injurious to us. Anxiety dishonors our heavenly Father. He knows our circumstances. He will not forget his relation to us. He will never give us cause to complain of him, or reflect badly upon him. Let us for a few moments look at: 

The RELATIONSHIP:
God is our FATHER. He has adopted us by his grace. We were by nature fatherless, so far as spiritual relationship is concerned. Or, to be more correct—we did have a father—it was the devil! Said Jesus, "You belong to your father—the devil!" John 8:44. We were in an abject and dreadful condition!

But in his infinite mercy, for the glory of his own free grace—God adopted us, placed us among his children, and so changed both our state and condition! He regenerated us by his Holy Spirit, and so gave us a new nature; that we may not only have a name and a place among his children—but possess their nature too. Life was imparted to our souls. Light was shed on our understandings. Desires after God sprang up within us. Conviction of sin pierced us.

The demands of the law once terrified us. Fears of hell once beset us. Satan once harassed and distressed us. But at length Jesus was revealed to us. The throne of grace was unveiled before us. We approached the mercy seat. We pleaded for pardon. We sought reconciliation. We were drawn near to the Divine Majesty. God was revealed in Jesus. The Spirit of adoption took possession of our souls. We cried, "Abba, Father!" We were acknowledged as God's children. The love of God was shed abroad in our hearts. The peace of God took possession of our consciences. We felt that we had passed from death unto life. We believed the love that God had unto us. We were inwardly persuaded that he was indeed our Father. We were satisfied. We were happy. We felt that all was well with us.

Had this experience always continued with us—then doubt, fear, or anxiety could never have troubled or distressed us. But a change came over us!

The world influenced us.
Satan
deceived us.
Our own hearts were false and feeble.

Still the relationship remained. We still have a heavenly Father who cares for us! And as heaven is high above the earth, so far does God's relationship exceed all human relationships. To have God for our Father—is the height of blessedness, it is the crowning privilege!

Nothing can exceed this, for his love is infinite, and embraces all his children. His love cannot change, for that would imply a change in his nature. But he says, "I am Jehovah—I do not change!" Everything outside of the Divine nature will change. But Jehovah himself loves his people—and as his nature cannot change—neither can his love.

His resources are boundless—and He supplies all of his children. They are never sent to any other quarter for supply—but always bidden to come to their Father for all they need. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." "The heaven, even the heavens—are the Lord's."

His pity is exquisite, and he sympathizes with all of his children. "Like as a father pities his children—so the Lord pities all who fear him. He knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust."

His knowledge is perfect, therefore he is fully acquainted with them all. "All things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do." He knows exactly where each one is—and each of their wants, woes, and wishes. For "the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on the behalf of all those who hearts are sincere towards him."

His power is omnipotent—and protects them all. He says, "No one is able to pluck you out of my hand! I will strengthen you! I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness."

His nature is unchangeable—and His covenant is sure; therefore He will be to us, and do for us—all that He has promised to us!

Scripture history unfolds God's love to — and the method of his dealing with His children. He is "the same yesterday, today—and forever!"

What a mercy—to have a Father—and such a Father!

What an astounding blessing—to have God for our Father in a world like this, and in times like these!

What a comfort—to look up to the High and Lofty one who inhabits eternity—and rejoice that He has a father's heart—and that His heart beats with unutterable love to me!

What an encouragement—to be able in the midst of trials, troubles, temptations, losses, crosses, disappointments, and vexations—to look up to my heavenly Father and say, "I will cry unto God most high, unto God who performs all things for me!"

Let me then consider, 

The CONSOLATION the Savior holds forth to his children:

"Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things!" He created us to be dependent upon him. He never intended that we should be self-sufficient or independent. He placed us where we would be dependent upon him.

Man has needs—and needs much!
But man as a sinner — must need more!

God created us as men—and he allowed us to make ourselves sinners! And then (O, amazing grace!) he took us, adopted us, and made us his children! To be dependent upon him, therefore is natural. To need the many things that we do—proves that we are sinful. To be placed in circumstances where all our needs are supplied—is supernatural. Sin breeds anxiety, and our gracious heavenly Father bids us to us cast all our cares upon him, assuring us that he cares for us.

His EYE is ever upon us! His eye is a Father's eye, which is always quick, and always affects his heart. He has set his eyes upon us for good. His eye is ever over us—fixed immediately upon us.

His EAR catches our every sigh, our every groan, our every desire! It is always open to our cry. He listens to us—as one most tenderly and deeply interested in us. He knows our every need—and he intends to supply us!

Our heavenly Father has forever determined—that none of his children shall lack any good thing—and that he will not withhold any good thing from them.

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things!" Matthew 6:31-32

Our heavenly Father will try our faith. Often does he say by his dealings with us, "Can you trust me? Can you leave this affair with me? Can you give me time? Can you trust me to deal with kindness, truthfulness, and constancy towards you?"

Our heavenly Father will make us pray. He loves to hear us! And when to ourselves our prayers are like a confused chattering—they are clear and pleasant to him.

He will, by keeping us waiting—enhance the value of the blessing. That which is easily obtained—is often little valued. But that which costs us groans, sighs, prayers, tears, and efforts—is much more prized. Therefore it is—that we are kept waiting, watching, and crying for the blessing. God is not unwilling to bestow—but he will teach us to prize and value his gifts.

God will display his wisdom—in promoting the eternal welfare of all His children. God's ways are not our ways. They are always profoundly wise; and his wisdom will in the end stand conspicuous and glorious in his paternal dealings with all of his children.

Beloved, if God is our Father—he will chastise us.

We need it!

We deserve it!

We shall have it! "For what son is not chastened by his father?" Hebrews 12:7

He never had but one child whom he did not chasten, because he never had but one, who did not deserve chastening.

But he will mix mercy with every affliction. Like sugar in our tea—it sometimes lies at the bottom, and needs stirring up!

But there is always mercy there. A cup of unmixed wrath was put into the hands of Jesus—that such a cup might never be put into our hands!

There is sweetness in the bitterest cup which our Father gives us! Let us therefore look for the sugar—as we sip the bitter potion!

He will take the meaning of our prayers—yes, of our groans, sighs and tears! "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book!" Psalm 56:8. Who understands a child—like his father? Especially the father that is always with him. Our heavenly Father understands us—he needs no interpreter. He never requires us to go to him—by a human priest, by a saint, or by the Virgin Mary. He says, "Come boldly to the throne of grace." "Come alone. Come whenever you desire! Come for all that you need. I shall always understand you. I will surely listen to you. I will certainly bless you!"

Jesus is always before his Father for us—he ever lives to make intercession for his people. Jesus is the medium through which our Father looks upon us, loves us, and converses with us. We need no other. It reflects badly upon our Father's love, and our Savior's sufficiency to employ another. Let us disclaim all priests but Jesus. Let us refuse to go to God through any medium but Jesus. Let us rejoice that our Father reads our hearts, understands our language, and will grant our requests—so far as he can consistently, with his glory and our good. He will prevent Satan from prevailing against us. Our heavenly Father will never let that roaring lion devour one of his children! That old serpent shall never destroy one whose name is in God's family register!

If God is our Father, we ought to depend on his providence. It is particular and minute. It numbers the hairs of our head. It superintends all our concerns.

If God is our Father, we ought to submit patiently to all his will. His will is love. Whatever he does, or permits to be done—he will overrule for our good. In the greatest trial, under overwhelming afflictions, he says, "Be still—and know that I am God." Let us then lie at his feet—when not permitted to pillow our heads on his bosom. Let us be silent before him—when we cannot see the outcome of his dispensations, or his kindness in permitting them.

If God is our Father, we ought cheerfully to obey his commands. His apostle assures us, that "his commandments are not grievous." They may cross our inclinations. They may run counter to our whims, desires, or pre-conceived opinions; but if our hearts are right, they will not be grievous. The very fact of their flowing from a Father's love, and being backed by a Father's authority—should be enough to make us cheerfully obey them!

If God is our Father, we ought patiently to endure our trials, quietly carry our cross, and show by our conduct—that we esteem it an unspeakable mercy to have a Father—and such a Father. A Father, who knows our needs, has provided for them, and will in his own time supply them. A Father, who knows our wishes, and will, as far as his glory will permit, gratify them. A Father, who ever loves us, will never leave us—but constantly cares for us. A Father, who wishes us to be free from all worry, to cast every care upon him, to leave the settlement of all our affairs to him, and trust him with all that we esteem valuable for time and eternity.

O, lost sinner—you have no such Father! You are at present a poor friendless orphan! But the door of mercy is open. The throne of grace is accessible. God still admits sinners to his presence, and places sincere penitents among his children.

O, backslider! You have left your Father's house, you have wounded your Father's name, you have grieved your Father's heart. You were happy once—but you are unhappy now. Your Father is calling upon you to return. He waits to be gracious unto you. He will receive you graciously, he will love you freely. Go to your Father's throne, confess your sin, plead for pardon, appeal to mercy—and soon, very soon, you will be rejoicing in your Father's changeless love!

 

Do not be fainthearted or afraid!

The people of Israel in Egypt were slaves. In the wilderness they were no better than children. When they came to the Jordan, and were about to pass over into Canaan, they needed not only direction—but encouragement, and stimulus. To teach, embolden, and give them confidence, Moses addressed them, wrote his words in a book, and they are preserved and handed down to us, for our admonition and comfort. To every young believer, the Lord now speaks, as Moses did to Israel of old, "Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." Deuteronomy 20:3, 4.

Israel as a people, were distinguished by their knowledge of the true God, he had revealed himself to them, and had spoken with them, and had taken up his residence in the midst of them. Just so, believers, they all know God, by the teachings of the Holy Spirit. He has revealed himself to them in Jesus. He has spoken to them in his word. He has taken up his residence in his Church, and he dwells also in every one of their hearts. This is their distinction, they know the Lord, they have fellowship with God, he dwells in them, and they dwell in him.

Israel was delivered out of Egyptian bondage, by passing through the Red Sea, where the Lord displayed his power, his justice, and his distinguishing grace. Just so, the Lord's people are delivered from their bonds, are brought into liberty, and set forth for the promised land, through the Red Sea of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus; in which ransom, God has gloriously manifested his power, justice, and distinguishing favor.

Israel was distinct and distinguishable from all the world, during the forty years they sojourned in the wilderness; and believers are as really brought out of the world, and are made as distinguishable from the world as Israel, and the world becomes to them a wilderness, a strange country, through which they are passing to their Father's house!

Israel was a people peculiarly the Lord's, and set apart specially for himself; and so true Christians are the Lord's, bought with a price, separated from the world, and set apart by his word and the operations of his Holy Spirit, for his own service, praise and glory.

Reader! are you one of God's true Israel?

Do you know the Lord, as revealed to your heart by the Spirit?

Are you delivered from the slavery of sin and Satan, through the precious blood of Christ?

Are you, while in the world, distinct from the world—and is the world at the best, a wilderness to you?

Are you one of God's peculiar people, set apart by his grace for his service on earth, as introductory to the enjoyment of his glory in heaven?

Israel's enemies were many and various. Seven nations, who already had possession of the land, and claimed it as their own. They must all be met, opposed, and conquered, before Israel could enjoy rest. Just so, the believer has many enemies, they are various, and they are mighty. They also have possession, and will not give up—but as they are compelled.

There is SATAN, the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the great hater of God and of Christ. Nor is there merely one devil—but millions of demons, and they are all leagued and banded together against us. They must be met, be resisted, and be overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of his testimony. We must conquer them—or they will conquer us; and only by stern, steady resistance can we do this.

Then, there is the WORLD, of which Satan is the god—this he sets in motion, directs, and influences against the Church of Christ. By craft, or cruelty, or both, the world as instigated by Satan, is seeking our destruction! We are forbidden to enter into any league with it, or become its friends. And to deter us we are told, "If any man will be a friend of the world—he is the enemy of God!" We must face the world, oppose the world, and by a steady faith in Christ, overcome the world.

There is also the FLESH, or the corrupt nature that is within us—which Satan ruled and swayed as he pleased once. This must be mortified, denied, and nailed to the cross! Every depraved principle, every corrupt passion, every sinful habit—must be discovered, discarded, hated, and destroyed. They defile, pollute, and render us unfit for God; we must make no truce with them—but seek to destroy them utterly.

There are also frequently FALSE BRETHREN, who like the mixed multitude which came up out of Egypt with Israel, do us much injury, and when discovered, must be separated from us.

These foes form a formidable host, they are accustomed to war, and are enough to excite alarm in the heart of the poor timid believer. But faced they must be, and overcome too.

Israel were reminded that the day of battle was come, "You approach this day unto battle against your enemies." After the believer is delivered from the law, and is brought out into the liberty with which Christ makes him free—his whole life is a day of battle. Having once put on the armor, he must never put it off—but only to put on his shroud. He must travel the whole journey of life, with sword in hand. There is no end to this war while life lasts, and frequently one of the sorest battles is fought toward the last.

But there are some particular days, which may be called days of battle, as the day of Satanic temptation. In this day all the artillery of hell seems to be brought to bear upon us. The enemy solicits us to commit the foulest sins, perverts the holiest doctrines, or fills the mind with the most horrid blasphemies. Ideas the most polluting, thoughts the most profane, suggestions the most diabolical—are thrown into the mind, and it is hard to stand our ground, or use well our weapons. Dreadful is the onslaught which Satan makes, fearful the hurricane he produces in the soul. Like Joshua with Amalek, we have to fight in the valley, nor have we daylight sufficient to finish the conflict.

There are also days, when the corruptions of the heart, and the lusts of the flesh, appear to have peculiar power. Every grace appears to be buried. Every evidence of salvation is concealed. The whole work of the Spirit seems to be destroyed. O it is fearful work, when our inward corruptions rage, swell, and boil like the sea; when Satan's foul suggestions roar through the soul like wintry winds; and nothing but confusion, misery, and gloom fills the heart! This is doing business in deep waters, it is more like a sea-fight, than a battle on land. O it is terrible!

Then there is the day of open persecution, or more private opposition, when we have to do battle for our principles, and perhaps resist unto blood, striving against sin.

And the day of death is often a day of battle, for then we have not only to contend with the last enemy, death; but Satan makes his last attack, and a fearful attack it frequently is. But however fearful the assault, the victory is certain to every believer, and the final triumph will be great.

Israel was exhorted not to be terrified, or fear, or be fainthearted. The enemies must be met! The battle must be fought! The victory must be won!

Just so in our case, and the Lord speaks to us, as he did to them, to comfort, embolden, and encourage us. He says, "Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them!" This does not befit a soldier, much less a Christian; we should set our hearts like a flint, to meet and brave all opposition.

We are all liable to faint—but we should look to the Lord. "Do not be fainthearted or afraid!" And if God bids us not to fear, depend upon it, we have small occasion.

"Do not be fainthearted or afraid!" though your foes are many, though they are giants, though they are accustomed to war. Fears are carnal, and weaken the heart. Fears are slavish, and enfeeble the hands. Fears are as dishonorable to God, as they are discreditable and injurious to you.

"Do not be terrified," as though your God would leave you, or your foes were a match for divine omnipotence. Let the guilty tremble, not you. Let those who are at war with God tremble—but not you.

"Neither give way to panic." God is with you. God is for you. God has promised you his assistance. God is true. To you, God is love. For you, God will appear.

Therefore, do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. Your cause is good, your strength will be sufficient, therefore keep up your courage, for slavish fears, distrustful faintings, and carnal tremblings—will dishonor God, and injure you!

Israel was encouraged, and so are we. God was to go with Israel to fight for them, and save them; and what was spoken to them will apply to us. "For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory!" He did not send an angel—but he went with them himself. Nor did he go with them merely as an observer—but as a man of war, as the Captain of the host, as their strength and power.

So is God with us, saying, "I will contend with him who contends with you." He goes before us, clearing our way. He goes with us, enabling us to fight. He never leaves, or withdraws his eyes from us.

"For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies." Not to fight without us. Nor to let us fight without him. But to fight with us. He uses us, he helps us, he crowns us with success. By his providence, by his Spirit, and by his strength, he fights for us, and helps us.

"To give you victory!"

Satan shall not rejoice over us, or boast that he has finally conquered one who belongs to the Lord.

The world shall never ensnare to his destruction, one who is an Israelite indeed.

The flesh shall never master in the end, one of the seeking seed of Jacob.

False professors, shall never lead away by errors, or stratagems, or persecution to their final ruin — one of the blood-bought family of God.

Blessed be God, with divine omnipotence on our side, and the Word of God pledged to us, and the Holy Spirit within us—we need fear no evil, nor tremble before any foe—but go forth and do battle as for God, exclaiming, "The Lord Almighty is with us! The God of Jacob is our refuge!" Then we may be bold, courageous, and daring; assured that we shall be "more than conquerors, through him who has loved us!"

 

"Is everything all right?"

"So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. 'Is everything all right?' he asked." 2 Kings 5:21

"Is everything all right?" What deep thoughts, and what important inquiries — do these words awaken in a serious mind! It may be "all right" with my reader — and if so, it is a great mercy. But it may not be "all right" — and if so, it is a serious matter. Let Naaman's question, then, furnish us with a text — and let us try and derive some profit from the subject he suggests. "Is everything all right?" Or it is all wrong? It is one or the other, as it respects the soul and eternity; for there is no intermediate or middle state. Allow me, then, to propose three questions: 

First, "Is everything all right with your HEART?"

This is a momentous question, for by nature it is radically and universally wrong. Every imagination of the thoughts of the heart is evil, only evil, and that continually. It is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. It is a fountain which sends forth streams of pollution as black as hell. From within, out of the heart, proceed all manner of evil, and every species of crime.

The heart is, therefore, naturally wrong — and no one can rectify it but the Holy Spirit. The gospel is the instrument — but the Holy Spirit is the only agent that can effectually change a sinner's heart. He does so by a silent, secret, invincible power; by which he softens, sanctifies, and consecrates it to God. He destroys the image of Satan which was set up in it — and sets up the image of Christ in its place. He changes its bent and bias, so that . . .
we now desire — what we once despised;
we now seek — what we once disdained;
and we now love — what we once hated.

If the heart is "all right," then . . .
God is the object of its love,
Christ is the object of its faith,
the gospel is the object of its veneration,
the salvation of sinners is the object of its pursuits,
and heaven is the object of its hope.

If the heart is "all right," then . . .
Christ is found in it,
grace reigns over it,
prayer and praise flow from it, and
holiness is ardently desired by it.

If the heart is "all right," then . . .
the bible is prized,
the gospel is highly esteemed,
Christ is highly exalted,
God is cheerfully obeyed, and
sin is hated and forsaken.

If the heart is "all right," then . . .
it mourns over faults committed,
struggles against corruption within,
and sighs for freedom from temptation and depravity.

Reader, is your heart "all right?" Inspect it narrowly, watch it closely, examine it carefully — and take heed lest it deceives you!

If it is right now—then it was wrong once, and you know it. If it is right in the sight of God—then you see much that is wrong in it, and, therefore, take it . . .
to the Word of God to be searched,
to the open fountain to be cleansed, and
to the Spirit of God to be purified.

Settle this point before we proceed, for every man really is—just as his heart is.

Right or wrong then — which is it?

If right — who made it so?

How was it made so?

What is the proof that it is so?

Let these questions be deeply and seriously pondered — and let them be honestly and satisfactorily answered

Second, "Is everything all right with your HEAD?"

By the head we mean the intellect — the thinking faculty.

Is it light — or darkness?

Is it instructed — or ignorant?

Is the eye of the mind clear and penetrating?

Is the judgment sound and correct?

Are the views Scriptural and sanctifying?

Many have their minds full of confusion; there is . . .
no order in their thoughts,
no arrangement of their ideas,
no clearness in their perceptions.

They scarcely know . . .
whether salvation is by works — or by grace;
whether they must trust in Christ — or in the virgin Mary;
whether they must look to Jesus for all — or to themselves for part.

They neither receive into their minds God's revelation of himself, nor subject their judgments to the judgment of God. Fallen and misguided reason — is enthroned, and God's infallible revelation is required to bow before it, and be imperiously judged by it. Then the head is all wrong!

When the head is "all right," then . . .
God's Word is its standard, its directory, its rule;
it receives whatever God has revealed;
it believes whatever God has said; and
it obeys whatever God has commanded.

It views . . .
God
as a loving father;
Jesus
as a compassionate Savior;
the Holy Spirit as a gracious Comforter;
the Bible as the revelation God's mind;
the world as our temporary residence;
time
as a preparation for eternity, and
God's glory
as the desired end of every action.

When the head is "all right," then . . .
it traces up every good thing to God,
and every evil thing to the creature;
it magnifies God's grace in its salvation,
and acknowledges God's justice in the condemnation of the lost.

Reader, how is it with your head?

What are your views . . .
of self,
of sin,
of salvation,
of sanctification,
of hell, and
of heaven?

What do you think . . .
of Christ,
of grace,
of the world?

Do your views correspond with God's views — as revealed in his Word? Are your thoughts the same as God's thoughts on all the great subjects referred to? If not, your head is not "all right." Take your head as well as your heart — to the Bible, and examine it carefully by that! 

Thirdly, "Is everything all right with your LIFE?"

The life is but the exposition of the heart.

The life is but the exhibition of the ruling principles of the nature.

Man generally lives outwardly, according to the nature that he possesses inwardly. Like the trees in nature, the fig tree will not bear olive berries; nor will the grape-vine produce figs. Just so, a holy life can never be produced from an unholy heart! If the principles of the heart are unsound — the life will be incorrect. A cloak may be put on, a mask may be worn, a pretense may be made — but 'the man' must sooner or later be detected.

That man only is "all right" in his life — who makes the precepts of God's Word his rule, seeks grace to obey them because he loves them, and strives daily and earnestly to conform his life to them. The grace of God which brings salvation, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts — and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

If the acquisition of wealth, if to obtain worldly distinctions and honors, or if to enjoy flesh-pleasing and carnal pleasures — are the great objects of life—then all is wrong! But if to honor God, to imitate the Savior, to spread the gospel, to bring sinners to Christ, and to bless and benefit all around us to the utmost of our power, is our object — then, in reference to our life, it is "all right."

We then love God supremely, and the whole race of man heartily. We copy the Savior's example. We show our faith by our works. We prove the power and purity of our principles — by our practice. The conduct confirms and illustrates the excellence of the creed. We are the living epistles of Christ — known and read by all men. But if we are selfish, stingy, worldly, proud, conceited, contentious, unloving—then we cannot be "all right"!

For Jesus has said — and from his decision there is no appeal, "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them!" Matthew 7:16-20  

"Is everything all right?"

Let us, then, ask ourselves these three questions:

Is my heart all right — in the sight of God?

Is my head all right — when examined by God's Word?

Is my life all right — in the view of discerning, honest, and impartial men?

Let us put these questions into the hand of conscience; let us take them to God's throne; let us look at them from the sick bed, as we stand by the side of our coffin, and in the light of eternity, which will soon burst upon us; remembering that if wrong, we may now be set right by the grace and Spirit of God; but if we neglect to examine into the matter, we may soon have to cry from the depths of eternal despair, "I was all wrong — and shall be wrong forever!"

 

Injustice in a Graveyard! 

"The wages of sin is death!" Romans 6:23

The other day, as I was wandering over a village graveyard, and reading the inscriptions on the tombs and head-stones, I could not but think that there was something like injustice. In every direction DEATH was spoken against — and called cruel, insatiable, and many other bad names — but not one word was said against SIN. And yet death is but the offspring of sin. But for sin — there would have been no death, and no graveyards.

Death is a divine infliction, originally a punishment for man's sin! It is from God's hand — and therefore man is more ready to speak harshly of death, than he is of sin — which is man's own act and deed.

We blame death for robbing us of our parents, children, and friends; but we ought to blame sin — which gave death its power. And thus we should blame ourselves — by whom sin came into the world, and has perpetuated death here.

Sin is the parent of disease, pain, grief, sorrow, disappointment, vexation, anxiety, woe, death — yes, of every evil!

And man is the parent of sin!

Sin sprung from us — and all misery springs from sin.

God, in death — only gives to man his due. How prone are we to fix the eye on effects (death) — and never think of the cause (sin)! Or if we admit that the cause is sin — we look upon it, and talk of it, as if sin was a calamity instead of a crime!

When I tread the grounds of the graveyard, and see the proofs that multitudes have been buried there — let me ask with Jehu, "Who slew all these?" And the only answer that can be justly given, will be, SIN!

Some may be ready to say, "Oh, it was small-pox, or tuberculosis, or cancer, or cholera, etc!" True, true — but what introduced all these diseases into our world — for they were not here originally? Ah, that was sin — our sin!

We therefore must trace suffering and death — to disease!
We must trace disease — to sin!
We must trace sin — to man!

Man therefore, is the cause of all his own misery!

Man has no one to blame, but himself. Nor is it any use trying to throw the blame on anything else.

But as sin has introduced disease, misery, and death into our world — is there any possibility of getting rid of sin? Because, if we can get rid of sin — we may then get rid of all the consequences of sin. Well, blessed be God, sin may be gotten rid of! How this is to be done, the Bible, and the Bible alone, can inform us. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 6:23

No one could devise a plan to get rid of sin — but the infinitely wise God. No one could furnish the means — but the Possessor of heaven and earth. It requires a most costly sacrifice — and the Son of God furnishes that. It requires a wondrous change in us, nothing less than a new creation — and the Spirit of God produces that.

If we want to get rid of sin — we, being fully convinced that we are guilty, and deserve to be punished for it. We must fix the eye of the mind on the Son of God as our sacrifice. We must then confess our sins, and plead with God to pardon them, on the ground of the sacrifice of Jesus, and so we shall obtain a pardon. We must also ask for the Holy Spirit, to renew and sanctify our nature, and so we shall be delivered from the power and pollution of sin. We must live, believing in the efficacy of the blood of Jesus to remove our guilt, and in the power and grace of the Spirit to make us new creatures, and then take the precepts of the gospel as our guide, and the example of Jesus as our model.

In this way, we shall be delivered from condemnation for sin, from the power and love of sin, and also from the practice of sin. And thus living, and thus dying — we shall ultimately be delivered from the indwelling, and all the consequences of sin. Then, being delivered from sin — we are really delivered from death, the very nature of which is changed, so that we only fall asleep in Jesus, depart to be with Jesus, and at length wake up in the exact likeness of Jesus, both in body and soul!

Let us then, when we think of death or look on suffering — trace it up to sin, and then make it our first great business to get rid of sin! No remedy will do for us, which does not go to the root of the disease and eradicate it. We must get rid of sin, both in its guilt and power — or we shall never be safe, we can never be happy. And there is no getting rid of sin — but by faith in Christ, and the possession of the Holy Spirit. No sacrifice will ever atone for our sins — but the death of Christ. And no power will ever deliver us from the authority and enslaving influence of sin — but the power of the Holy Spirit. Nor will the blood of Christ deliver us, without a personal application to it; nor will the power of the Holy Spirit deliver us, unless he is received into our hearts and dwells there. As, therefore, it is of the greatest importance to be delivered from sin, as otherwise we cannot be delivered from death, or saved from hell — let us apply to Christ at once!

If we have already fled to Jesus — let us apply to him afresh daily; let us ask of our heavenly Father, the filling of the Holy Spirit. Nor let us rest satisfied until we prove his presence with us, by an abiding hatred to sin, and a constant thirst for perfect holiness. Nor let us be satisfied, even if we have the Spirit, without a deep and thorough work of sanctification. And, as there are degrees of holiness, and the more holiness the more happiness for us, and the more glory for God — let us set our hearts upon the attaining of perfect holiness. For this let us pray, at this let us aim — and the result will be a thorough devotedness to God, the enjoyment of our election and calling, and growing usefulness in the world and the Church.

And if this should be the case in any one instance, as the result of reading these few lines, I shall not regret my ramble in the village church-yard, or the labor of penning the thoughts suggested by the inscriptions on the tombs and head-stones.

 

Painful Recollections

"I remembered God — and was troubled!" Psalm 77:3

Memory often cheers our hearts by its remindings — but it sometimes saddens our spirits by its contrasts. In some of our gloomy seasons, we cannot help looking back — and contrasting our former happy experience, with our present sadness and sorrow. Thus the Psalmist acted, and his very recollections of God troubled him. O how dependent we are on the blessed Comforter — for settled peace, quietness of conscience, and joy in God. Let us for a few moments sit down with the Psalmist, compare notes, and talk the matter over; it may do us good, and bring relief to our minds.

"I remembered God" — how sweetly he manifested himself to my soul, and held communion with my spirit, filling me with joy and love. Then his varied excellencies feasted and delighted my heart. I could say, "The Lord is my portion!" and be satisfied with the poorest fare. Nothing troubled me much, or troubled me long. But now, I have no bright manifestations, no sweet views, no sensible communion with God. I am left with his word in my hand — but without the sweet savor of it in my heart!

I know that the Lord is glorious — but I cannot perceive his glory. I know that God is love — but I cannot realize his love to me. I know that God is the portion of his people — but I cannot enjoy him as my portion. Comparing the past with the present, troubles me, and I cannot help exclaiming with Job, "O How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness! Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house, when the Almighty was still with me!" Job 29:2-5. I am troubled indeed!

"I remembered God" — how he used to meet me in my prayer-closet, and in my solitary walks, and draw out my soul to himself. Then I could pray with fervor and praise with a melting heart. Then to be alone — was to be with God; and to be with God — was to enjoy a little bit of heaven upon earth. The promises flowed sweetly into my soul, and the Holy Spirit helped my infirmities. I could read my title to the heavenly inheritance, and my saving interest in the everlasting covenant with all its spiritual blessings. Temporal things were little thought of — the spiritual and eternal appearing all important. But now, the closet is an empty place, and the solitary walk is lonely and unpleasant. Now my prayers are lifeless, and my attempts to praise are dull and graceless! To be alone now — is to muse on my misery, and to deepen my distress by reflecting on my lost joys. I read and repeat the promises — but they make no impression on me; nor can I claim and plead them as my own. If I look forward — I have no sweet anticipations; and if I look backward — I cannot read my name in the book of life, or discern my saving interest in covenant blessings. Temporal things affect me deeply, while spiritual things make little impression. I am troubled indeed!

"I remembered God" — how frequently he answered my prayers, gave me tokens for good, and appeared for me in straits and difficulties. I could then plead with him, trust in him, and expect from him — as a Father. Then he seemed to take me by the hand, choose out my way for me, and lead me kindly and gently in it. I looked upon earth — as my Father's world; upon the Church — as my Father's temple; and upon heaven — as my Father's house. A spirit of filial love, confidence, and hope, ruled my heart, and regulated my feelings. But now, I cry out and shout — but he shuts out my prayer. I get no answers, no deliverances, no sensible tokens for good. I have lost my sense of acceptance, my strong confidence in God's paternal heart, and appear to be left alone to find out my way as I can. O what a change! I am troubled indeed!

"But why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him!" There is no change in him — the change is wholly and entirely in yourself. His loving heart is still eternally the same. Once he led you by sense — and now he calls upon you to walk by faith. His eye is still upon you — his ear is open to you — and his heart still glows with unutterable love to you! All the difference is, you were once lying at the breasts of consolation — and now you are being weaned. Once milk was your food, and warm, sweetened milk too; and now you have placed before you, solid food!

It is to you, that Jesus speaks, saying, "Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me!" Let not the contrast between former and present experience lead you to examine yourself; but hold fast the confidence you had at the beginning, steadfast unto the end. Cast yourself on the naked promise. Trust God's heart — when you cannot trace his hand! Believe his word — in the absence of feeling. Call upon him, and expect him to answer you, and all shall be well, and well forever — troubled though you have been.

Holy Spirit, lead me to view God in Jesus, to trust in the finished work of Jesus alone, to walk by faith in the promise, and to rejoice in hope of the glory that is to be revealed.

 

How Old Are You?

Birthdays are solemn days, they remind us of our entrance into the world, and direct our thoughts forward to the period when we shall leave it. Like milestones on the road of life, they inform us how far we have traveled — but say not one word about how far we have to go! Every mile sensibly lessens the distance between us and our journey's end. Today I am reminded of a passage in Old Testament history, "And Pharaoh said unto Jacob: How old are you?" Genesis 47:8. What a touching question! How calculated to awaken solemn thoughts, and to call up interesting reminiscences! Let us glance at, 

The two PARTIES.

A sovereign — and a subject.

The greatest monarch of his day — and a plain unsophisticated shepherd.

One accustomed to rule in courts — and one in the habit of dwelling in tents.

A citizen of the world — and an old pilgrim to mount Zion.

One who was of the world, and at home in the world — and one who was only passing through the world, to take possession of a better country.

An idolatrous sinner — and a saint of the Most High God.

One who had no clear or correct conception of the divine nature and character — and one who knew God, and walked in daily fellowship with him.

A greater contrast could not be, than between the patriarch Jacob — and the monarch Pharaoh.

Pharaoh appears to have had some excellent qualities, and in many points to have been a fine character — but he was . . .
a stranger to God,
a worshiper of dumb idols, and
was led captive by the devil at his will.

Jacob had many faults, and some striking defects — but he was a friend of God, walking with him in peace and righteousness.

The pilgrim was introduced to the king, who perhaps to make him feel at ease during his interview, or from some other good motive, proposed the question, "How old are you?"  

Let us look at the INQUIRY.

Questions may be meddlesome — and should not be answered.

Questions may be offensive — and should not be noticed.

Questions may be mischievous — and should call forth a serious reply.

This sincere question by Pharaoh may have been called forth by the patriarch's venerable looks. What a beautiful sight is a fine old man! His locks are silver. His brow is wrinkled. His cheeks have fallen in. His voice is tremulous. His form stoops. All unite to excite veneration, and may therefore well prompt the question, "How old are you?"

It may have been curiosity on the part of the king, or even a benevolent feeling, which led him to make the inquiry — but whatever it was, it may be turned to very good account. Let us take it home, and examine ourselves by it.
 
How old am I
NATURALLY? I was once a babe, and then a youth — but I am such no longer.

This should awaken REFLECTION — and lead us to remember all the way which the Lord our God has led us in the wilderness.

It should produce GRATITUDE. How many have been cut down younger, and cut down unprepared. How many are in Hell now — who were born since we were! How many have sunk in poverty, been crushed by troubles, or been hurried out of time into eternity — by disease.

It should lead us to REPENTANCE. This is always the design of God's goodness. This is also its tendency to a gracious heart. Upon how many points, we have seen reason to change our minds. For how much that we have done, we have reason to weep bitter tears. How necessary it is on some points, to change our course. Can we attend to this question, and not reflect on the past? Can we reflect on the past — and not be grateful? Can we reflect, and be grateful, and not repent, and turn again unto the Lord?

Let us then improve the question, for some neglect it — but it cannot harm us, and it may do us good.

How LONG have I lived? Twenty — thirty — forty — fifty — perhaps sixty years?

To what PURPOSE have I lived? Have I secured my salvation? Have I served my generation? Is the world better for me being in it all these years? Have those about me reason to bless God for me? How would I live — if I had my time over again? Would I DO — just as I have done? would I BE — just what I have been?

What has been the grand end of my life? Have I lived to myself, or to him who died for me, and rose again? Have I lived to enlighten others by my knowledge, to help others with my property, to bless others through my influence?

How old am I
SPIRITUALLY? This question is more important than the former one. Better never be born at all — if we are not born again. Our first birth will prove a curse — without the second birth. The first birth only fits us for earth, where, if left to ourselves — we fit ourselves for Hell! But the second birth fits us for Heaven.

If we are born again, can we tell anything about the time when? Can we remember when we were convinced of sin, felt our need of a Savior, and fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. That was the time of our new birth. But the time of the new birth is of little or no importance — compared with the fact itself. The great question is, AM I born again? Do I believe in Jesus? Is salvation mine?

If we are born again — where are the proofs? Who is the better for it? Are our relations, our children, our neighbors? Even the animals which serve us, or live to please and amuse us — will be the better for our religion, if it is genuine.

Whether our lives have been long or short — we have lived long enough to have LEARNED more; and if we were not great dunces — we would have done so!

We have lived long enough to have GAINED more, for we have had some fine opportunities. Grace was to be had for asking for, and our talents may not only have been improved — but increased, yes doubled — if we had been wise.

We have lived long enough to have DONE more. Alas! how little we have done for God, for Christ, for the Church, and for the souls of men — and how very imperfectly has that been done, which we have performed. O if we had but realized our responsibility, if we had but been zealous for our God and his glory, if we had but been fired with the love of Christ — how much might we have done, during the life we have lived here below!

How shall we act NOW? Let us flee to the open fountain — to wash away our stains; let us repair to the throne of grace — that we may find mercy, and obtain grace to help us; and then let us begin life afresh, determined if we live — to live unto the Lord; or if we die — to die unto the Lord; so that whether we live or die we may be the Lord's!

 

He Was Humbled

Man is naturally proud, and pride sets him against God, and against his fellow men. Proud men are never devout men — and they are very seldom kind men. We are about to write a few lines, respecting one of the proudest of men. But those who walk in pride, God is able to abase, and He did so, for "he was humbled." 2 Chronicles 33:19.

WHO was humbled? Manasseh, the king of Judah. Manasseh, who was . . .
as proud as Pharaoh,
as cruel as Hazael,
as idolatrous as Ahab,
as hardened as Judas, and
as degraded as the thief on the cross.

In him, seem to find a home — all that is wicked, unfeeling, and opposed to God. His murders were wholesale, his idolatry was unparalleled, and his pride knew no bounds. The son of good Hezekiah, the anointed king of Judah — yet he broke through all bounds, setting God and man at defiance, and persevered until his head was hoary, and his heart was harder than the nether millstone, and his life was one long catalogue of crimes. He appears to have been the greatest sinner under the old testament dispensation — and yet "he was humbled."

Who humbled him? There was but one who could, and he took the work in hand, proving that his hand was not shortened, that he could not save; neither was his ear heavy, that he could not hear. God alone had the power . . .
to break so hard a heart,
to bend so stubborn a will,
to enlighten so dark a mind, and
to elevate such groveling affections.

God alone had sufficient mercy, for so far had Manasseh gone in cruelty and crime, that the public voice would have execrated him, and voted for his destruction. But God who is rich in mercy, in the exercise of his wondrous love — saved him by his grace. God alone could command the means, and put efficacy into them, that they may accomplish the marvelous design. Because the power of God is omnipotent — because the mercy of God is infinite — because God has all means at his command, and can make any means efficient, "he was humbled."

HOW did God humble him?

By bringing his enemies upon him, and delivering him into their hand;
by stripping him of his royalty, wealth, and power;
by isolating him from all his relatives, friends, and courtiers;
and by casting him into the prison of a foreign king.

There alone, he could reflect upon his wicked conduct, his long life of transgression, his early religious education, the ancient services of the sanctuary, and the word of his God. These reflections were attended with invincible grace, and he . . .
was convinced of sin,
trembled at God's justice,
wondered at God's forbearance,
remembered God's mercy
 — until his heart melted,
tears of contrition flowed,
cries for pardon ascended,
and throwing his guilty soul at the feet of a forgiving God, "he was humbled."

If Manasseh was humbled, God was glorified.

Every sigh that heaved his bosom,
every groan that escaped from his heart,
every tear that fell from his eye, and
every cry for mercy that ascended from his lips
 — glorified God.

The enemy was subdued,
the rebel sought forgiveness,
the idolater cast away his idols,
Hezekiah's prayers were answered,
the dethroned monarch was restored to his dignity,
the guilty soul was saved,
and in all, God was glorified.

If Manasseh was humbled — SATAN was disappointed. Having led him captive so long, having hardened him to such an extent, having plunged him into such depths of sin, having degraded him so far — he must have made sure of him as his prey. But the prey was taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive was delivered!

Though petrified by sin,
though at the very gate of Hell,
though apparently beyond the reach of mercy
 — yet he was humbled, and Satan was disappointed.

If Manasseh was humbled — GRACE was triumphant.
In sovereignty, it sought him,
using means it arrested him,
by its vital breath it melted him,
and as a poor, subdued penitent, it brought him to God's mercy seat.

Grace proved itself invincible — for if Manasseh is subdued, who can successfully resist? Grace proved itself free — for if Manasseh finds grace, how can it depend on any worthiness, or goodness, or excellency in the creature?

If Manasseh was humbled — then surely anyone may be. Can anyone be more hardened? Can anyone show more enmity to God? Can anyone more determinately break through all the restraints of a religious education? Can anyone sink lower, act worse, or run farther from God? If any case had been hopeless — would it not have been Manasseh's, who persevered in sin until he had grown grey in the service of the devil, and had done as many evil things as he could — yet "he was humbled," surely then any one may be.

If Manasseh was humbled — and humbled when he was an old man, dyed to the very bone in sin, and hardened beyond degree — then we should never give any one up. We should pray on, while life lasts; hope on, while we have breath to pray; and use all the means in our power, to bring the very worst sinners to repentance.

My Reader, have you been humbled? You must be — or perish. Before the honor of being saved in the Lord; adopted into God's family, and placed among his princes — is the humbling of the soul to accept of sovereign mercy, to submit to God's righteousness; and the coming of the soul to Jesus as wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Take heed of resisting the humbling thoughts suggested to your minds, and the softening influences felt in your souls; yield yourself unto God. Do as Manasseh did, of whom it is written, "But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request."

 

Reserved unto Judgment!

"How is it," said one, "that some men go on in sin year after year — and yet they prosper in almost all they do?"

Several reasons may be given — but one solemn portion of the Scripture comes to my mind, which may account for it. It is said of some sinners, that they are "Reserved unto judgment," 2 Peter 2:4. The Lord lets them alone now, and allows them to have their own way — intending to deal with them by-and-bye. He has spoken to them in his Word — and they will not hear. He aroused their consciences — but they lulled them to sleep again. He did once put obstacles in their way by his providence — but they broke through all bounds, and were determined to have their own way, and now the Lord seems to say, "Take your own way — and we will settle the account by-and-bye!"

No state can be more dangerous than this, hence said the Psalmist, "Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!" Psalm 73:18-19

"Reserved unto Judgment!" What a solemn thought! What a frightening prospect at the end of a mirthful giddy, thoughtless life — to have to appear before God's final tribunal in order to give an account of all that has been done, said, and thought through life; and to assign a reason for all our thoughts, words, and actions. "Every one of us shall give account of himself to God!"

What a sad account can we give, many of us? How can we justify our conduct, in one thing out of a thousand? How can we clear ourselves?

The judge will know all.

Our memories will be so strong — that we shall remember all.

Our consciences will be as good as a thousand witnesses, bearing testimony against us, if we die in sin.

Our sentence will be just — so that we shall have our months closed forever.

Our punishment will be in exact proportion, to the nature, number, and desert of our crimes. The lightest sentence will be dreadful, for in every case — the punishment will be eternal.

Having gone on sinning to the end — our habits will have become so fixed — that we shall go on sinning forever!

Hell's punishment will never purify the damned.

God will never change.

The sentence will never be rescinded.

Our sufferings will never be mitigated.

For our Savior has declared, "Where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched!" "The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever!"

Reader, this places things in a very solemn light. Our circumstances are very serious. Are you mirthful, easy, jovial, and free from all fear about the future? Are you for putting away from you, all serious thoughts, and making up your mind to enjoy carnal things while you can? If so, let me place before you one portion of God s most Holy Word, especially addressed to such as you, "Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, BUT know that for all these things — God will bring you to judgment!" Ecclesiastes 11:9

You see, there is no escaping the judgment, for God pledges his Word, that he will bring you into judgment. In that judgment, the conduct of the sinner will be exposed — and all his crimes will be published. The record of his life will be opened and exhibited. Oh, how will his cheeks burn with shame; how will his heart quake with terror, and how will his soul feel ready to burst with agony — when that exposure is made, and his final sentence is about to be pronounced?

Reader, how could you endure this? But if you live in sin, you must endure it — for there is no possibility of avoiding it.

Let me then exhort you to escape while the way of salvation is open, for you may escape, you may obtain pardon, you may even be justified before God, and by God — if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. His blood will blot out every sin that is against you in God's book. His blood will remove every stain from your conscience. His blood will silence every accuser that may rise up against you. His blood will give you peace now, and boldness in the day of judgement. O, believe, believe in Jesus, at once! Believe that he came into the world to save sinners. Believe that he has done all that is necessary to save sinners from the wrath to come. Believe that he is both able and willing to save you. Believe, and go to him, cry to him, cast yourself on him — and you shall be saved by him; then, instead of being "reserved to judgment," you will be "kept by the power of God through faith unto eternal salvation."

 

Joy Imparted

"You have put gladness into my heart!" Psalm 4:7

I am sad enough at times.

I get looking within — and the corruptions that lurk, and work there, make me sad.

I look into the church — and lack of life, union, and love there, makes me sad.

I look at my family — and there are generally some things there to make me sad.

I look at the world — and like David, who beheld transgressors and was grieved, I see enough there to make any Christian sad!

But my sadness often arises . . .
from my wandering from God, who is the fountain of joy;
from my violating God's precepts, in keeping which there is a great reward;
from a view of my unlikeness to God, and unfitness to enjoy God;
and at times from a sinful, slavish, painful fear of God.

At other times, I take my eye off the gospel, and get back under the law — and then a sight of its extensive demands, its fearful threatenings, and its awful curses, makes me sad.

So also, if I look at God as a just lawgiver, and an angry judge — this makes me sad.

Besides which,
my repeated failures, when I have endeavored to be more spiritual and consistent;
my lack of a suitable frame to love and enjoy God;
and my lack of satisfaction with God's providential arrangements
   — these things make me sad.

But I am not always sad, for if heaviness endures for the night — then joy comes in the morning. And to my gracious God I can say, "You have put gladness into my heart!" This he does sometimes . . .
by showing me the infinite efficacy of the atoning blood;
by applying the blood to the conscience;
by shedding abroad his sweet, powerful, and everlasting love in my heart;
by sending the Holy Spirit to breathe upon my soul, as the Spirit of adoption and liberty;
by revealing to me more clearly than heretofore, that I am accepted in the Beloved, and am pleasant in his sight;
by showing me my interest in, and title to — the many, exceeding great, and precious promises recorded in his Word;
by manifesting his divine approbation, and treating me as his friend;
by also by raising my expectations, and directing my eye upward to the celestial mansions, and forward to the glorious appearing of his beloved Son!

Blessed be God, he has often put gladness in my heart, not only by revealing blessings in his Word — but by presenting them to me by his Spirit. And also by giving me . . .
the oil of joy for mourning;
a sweet subject for meditation;
and a glorious prospect for anticipation.

He has given me to drink at times, of the wine of confusion — but at other times, I have drank deeply of the wine of consolation.

I have tasted the waters of strife, and had bitter draughts of the waters of Marah — but I have oftener, with joy drawn sweet waters out of the wells of salvation.

Blessed be God for a glad heart! A heart made glad by . . .
the light of his countenance,
the whispers of his love, and
the work and witness of the Holy Comforter!

This gladness makes one . . .
holy — as well as happy;
useful — as well as peaceful; and
fits us for Heaven — while it makes us ornamental on earth!

 

More Severe Punishment

The gospel places us in a very solemn position. Coming as it does, as a direct message from God, we are bound to receive it, believe it, respect it, and act upon it.

Its invitations should be received,
its promises should be embraced,
its doctrines should be believed,
its precepts should be obeyed.

It should be acted upon immediately it is heard; and if it were . . .
pardon and reconciliation to God would be sought,
peace and comfort would be enjoyed,
the Savior would be prized,
the atonement would be trusted,
the Holy Spirit would be honored.

But, how often is the gospel trifled with — where it is not positively rejected; and by how many is it despised and disregarded. To such the solemn language of the Apostle, is directed: "Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?" Hebrews 10:28-29.

Here is a comparison between sinners — and their punishment.

Sinners under the law — and sinners under the gospel.

Under the law, certain crimes were punishable with death, and he who slighted, neglected, and willfully broke the law was doomed to die. In despising the law — he despised the Sovereign, who enacted it; and he despised the rule of righteousness — which he had enacted. The punishment was death, death without pity, which was the highest punishment which man could inflict. If there were two or three witnesses of his crime, on their joint testimony he was condemned, and handed over to punishment.

Under the gospel, there is a sin unto death — and sinners may come into such a state, that for them there can be no pardon, to them can be shown no mercy. If they willfully reject the atonement of Jesus — there is no other sacrifice for sin; and without shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sin. The apostle is speaking of some, who were in a dangerous position; a position, in which it is to be feared, that many are at this day.

Look at their CRIME: They trampled the Son of God under foot. That is, they treat him with neglect and contempt. They never accept his invitations, or come to his feet, or trust in his blood, or rely on his promises, or observe his precepts. They have the gospel — but they act as though they had it not. They pretend to admit his claims, respect his authority, and rely on his glorious work — but their conduct shows that it is all pretense. They count the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified — an unholy, or common thing. Aaron was sanctified, set apart and consecrated to the priest's office, with the blood of a young bullock — but Jesus was consecrated by his own blood. Aaron was sanctified by Moses — but Jesus sanctified himself.

This is called the blood of the covenant, because in the covenant, Jesus agreed to shed it; and the covenant was ratified, and confirmed by it. On the ground of this blood being shed — God engaged to forgive our sins, to be reconciled to our persons, to give us all needful grace, and in the end confer on us eternal life.

They insult the Spirit of grace, that is the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit of grace, he graciously enlightens and strives with sinners; and these characters wrong him, for instead of yielding to him, they resist him, they grieve him; and as represented by a light — they are said to quench him. They treat him as a foe instead of a friend.

Thus they sin against the Father — for instead of reverencing his Son — they trample him under foot. They sin against the Son — for instead of prizing his blood, pleading it with God, and building their hope upon it — they treat it as if it were the blood of some inferior animal. They sin against the Holy Spirit — for instead of welcoming his approach, listening to his Word, and yielding to his influence — they resist and grieve him.

Look we then at their PUNISHMENT: The sinners under the law died without mercy, suffering the highest degree of punishment man could inflict. But these Christ despisers will have more severe punishment, as eternal punishment must be sorer than temporal.

Heavier vengeance lies on them.
Fiery indignation awaits them.
Fierce wrath is their portion.
Inconceivable torment is reserved for them!

They are said to be worthy of it, that is:
they deserve it,
they have merited it,
they have worked for it,
it is their just due,
it is their equitable wages.

It is a righteous thing for God to inflict it. But our own consciences, our sense of right is appealed to — and we are asked to decide as to the degree of punishment a man deserves, who tramples God's Son under foot, despises the blood shed for sinners, and despitefully treats the Holy and ever gracious Spirit. If it was just to put a man to death for willfully breaking the law of Moses once — what will be the just desert of those who daily for months and years, treat the Son of God, and the Spirit of God with such contempt? If the breaker of the law is chastised with whips — then surely these should be chastised with scorpions!

Lost sinner, beware — do not trifle with the gospel — it is the only remedy for your disease, the only balm to heal your wounds. It is . . .
the most wondrous display of God's mercy,
the greatest exhibition of the love of Christ,
the most marvelous display of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

By it, an everlasting salvation is presented you — reject the gospel, and you are undone forever! Well then may the apostle ask, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"

Do not despise the gospel — or you despise the most glorious person, the most precious thing, the most gracious and most powerful agent. Do not neglect, or you treat with neglect — the person of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ, and the Spirit of Christ. If you despise or neglect the gospel — then calculate if you can, the degree of punishment which you deserve! Think of the fierce wrath of God, the fiery indignation, and the fearful judgment which you deserve!

Remember . . .
you sin against the greatest mercy,
you trample on the costliest pearl,
you commit the greatest crime!

If the lot of Tyre and Sidon was to be preferred to the lot of Chorazin; and if the lot of Sodom and Gomorrah was to be preferred to the lot of Capernaum — then surely the lot of Chorazin and Capernaum, will be preferable to yours! Matthew 11:20-24. In flaming fire Jesus will come to take vengeance on such as you — if you dare to persevere in conduct so base, so terribly sinful. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.

Let me then beseech you to be wise, and not despise your soul. There is mercy — mercy for you if you seek it. There is pardon — pardon for you, if you confess sin, and pray for it. O then, for your soul's sake — seek mercy, confess sin, plead for pardon! Do not rest until you receive and enjoy these invaluable blessings!

 

God's Work — and Man's Work

I sometimes meet with people, who cannot, or will not, distinguish between God's work — and man's work. In the economy of grace there is both, God works in us — and we work out our own salvation. There are some things man cannot do — and there are some things that God will not do. Man cannot do God's work — and God will not do man's.

It is just so in nature: man cannot command the rain, the winds, or the sun; and God will not plow, fertilize, or sow the land. The latter is man's work, and he must do it, or have no crops. The former is God's work, and he does it faithfully. God will not dispense with man's efforts — and yet he will keep man dependent. He holds him responsible — while he proves him weak.

Just so in grace: we can preach, teach, and pray — but we cannot command the blessing. God will neither dispense with our efforts — nor put the blessing in our power. He will be the agent — but he will have us be the instruments. Yet in general, he has so connected the blessing with the means — that if we use the one, we may expect the other; though he always leaves room for the exercise of his own sovereignty.

Not that we can labor in vain — if our motive is good, and the means we employ are scriptural; for if we do not accomplish the end upon which our heart may be set — we shall be sure to get a blessing for ourselves. "You know," said Paul, "that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." And again, "In due season you shall reap — if you faint not."

Let me then be always at work for God, either writing or speaking, or giving; remembering that it is as much my business to work, as if I could command success, and all rested upon me. And yet while I work, I will endeavor to realize, that Paul may plant and Apollos water — but God alone gives the increase.

Some will not work, except they can be agents — this is pride. Others will not work, but for wages — this is selfishness. But there are some who work from love, and consider themselves honored in being permitted to do anything for God.

Lord, I would work for you; I would not only work for you — but I would work from a right motive. I would be satisfied to be anything, the meanest instrument, that you may be the Almighty agent. I would be satisfied to do all I can — and then ascribe all the glory to you. Give me grace that I may plough up the fallow-ground, sow the good seed of the kingdom, and expect to reap thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold; and then enable me to pray, look up, and wait upon you for the blessing, saying with Paul, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it — but God made it grow! So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything — but only God, who makes things grow!" To God be glory, all the glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

Christian Fellowship

The Lord's people are all one in Christ; and as such — they are near and dear to  Him. They are also one with each other, being one body, influenced by one Spirit, walking by one written rule, and traveling along one consecrated way, to one eternal home!

What a mercy — to be one with Christ! What a mercy — to be one with the people of Christ! Building on the same foundation, encouraging the same hopes, and sharing the same privileges. As one with Christ and as one with each other — our sympathies should be deep and active, our love strong and fervent, and our fellowship sincere and abiding. As branches of the same vine, as stones in the same building, as members of the same body — our connection is close, and our fellowship should be profitable. This is variously represented and illustrated in God's holy word; let us not pass over the representations without notice, or the illustrations without profit.

We are said to be fellow-citizens, forming part of the same commonwealth, entitled to the same blessings, and required to perform the same duties. We are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

We are fellow-servants in the same family, sitting at the same table, employed in the same service, and doing honor to the same master.

We are fellow-laborers, in the same vineyard, engaged for the same purpose, at the same pay, to aim at the same object.

We are fellow-soldiers, forming part of the same army, engaged in the same warfare, against the same foes.

We are fellow-sufferers, in the same cause, from the same sources, and in the same way.

We are fellow-helpers, and should assist each other in conflict, in toil, and in trouble.

We are fellow-heirs, being all of us heirs of God, and joint heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ.

If we are fellow-citizens — then let us dwell together in unity.

If we are fellow-laborers — then let us encourage each other in our work.

If we are fellow-soldiers — then let us keep rank, and present a unified front to the foe.

If we are fellow-sufferers — then let us sympathize with each other in our afflictions.

If we are fellow helpers — then let us bear each other's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

If we are fellow-heirs — then let us rejoice together, as we are going to take possession of that same incorruptible, undefiled, unfading inheritance, which is reserved in heaven for us!

Let us have fellowship with each other, in all things spiritual and holy; and rejoice in the thought, that though we may differ in circumstantials — we are one in essentials. Yes, being one with Christ — we are all one in Christ. We are members one of another, even as we are members of Christ. Blessed be God for our union to Christ — and fellowship with each other!

 

MARY

"Mary sat at Jesus' feet and heard His words" Luke 10:39

We have three views of Mary in the New Testament:

1. Mary working, washing the feet of Jesus, and anointing them with precious ointment.

2. Mary weeping at the sickness and death of her brother Lazarus, and

3. Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to his words.

The family was a peculiarly favored one, each member of it was a believer, an object of the Savior's love. God did not here take one of a family, as he sometimes does—but he took the whole.  

Let us notice Mary's CHARACTER. She was a quiet contemplative Christian.

We differ very much in our natural dispositions and temperament. Some are lively—others dull. Some are full of talk—and some very reserved. We carry our natural peculiarities with us—into a state of grace. Grace refines, ennobles, and regulates our natural propensities—but does not essentially alter them. They are Christianized, sanctified, and consecrated to God—but remain the same.

Mary had faith in Jesus, she believed him to be the Messiah, and received him as sent of God. She loved Jesus, and therefore valued his company, and prized his word. She enjoyed the company of Jesus, and therefore sought him out, and continued with him. She expected to get good from Jesus, and therefore took and kept her seat at his feet. She quietly left her concerns with Jesus, therefore if Martha upbraids her, she allows Jesus to answer for her.

Here, beloved, is an example for us, we should believe in Jesus, as the Son of God; love Jesus, as the Savior of sinners; prize the company of Jesus, and therefore follow him; and cleave to him with full purpose of heart; quietly leave our concerns with Jesus, and so live without anxiety, foreboding or grief. 

Let us look at Mary's PRIVILEGE. Jesus loved her, for if he had not—she never would have loved him. His love is always the cause of ours. We love him—because he first loved us. He made himself known to her, manifesting himself unto her—as he did not unto the world. He visited her, as the friend of the family, and the lover of her soul. He held fellowship and communion with her, treating her as a friend. He vindicated her, when Martha was angry with her.

Just so with every believer, for we all have the same great and precious privilege. Jesus loves us, and loves us with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness he teaches us our need of him and draws us to him. He makes himself known to us by the gracious teaching of his Holy Spirit, as our Savior and unchangeable friend. He visits us in mercy, sometimes in the Sanctuary, sometimes at his table, sometimes in the prayer-closet, and sometimes in the solitary walk; and his visits are always precious. He enters into communion with us, drawing out our hearts to himself in prayer, praise, meditation and adoration; and he applies his truth to us, and sheds abroad his love within us. He also vindicates his people, not always just at the time they are reproached, slandered, or misrepresented; but eventually he brings forth their righteousness as the light, and their judgment as the noon-day. So we may always rejoice, that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One! 

We will now glance at Mary's POSITION. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Most probably he was reclining on the couch, and she went and took her place behind him, where she could hear what he said, and occasionally get a glimpse of his face.

It is the posture of HUMILITY, she took the lowest place. She had no wish to be seen, nor did she regard her own ease—she was intent on getting good from Jesus.

It was the posture of ATTENTION, she wished to catch every word, and to understand all that the Lord was saying. If Jesus is teaching—then Mary will attend and listen.

It was the posture of a LEARNER, she was a disciple of Jesus, therefore she sat down at his feet, that she may receive of his words. He need not now say unto her, "Learn of me," for she was most anxious to do so.

It was the posture of SATISFACTION, if she could but be within the sound of his voice, within the sight of his eye—it was enough for Mary. Anywhere with Jesus!

It was also the posture of REPOSE, here at the feet of Jesus, she found rest unto her soul. Her desires were satisfied, her love was gratified, her hungry soul was fed. It was enough. The feet of Jesus was to her—a kind of earthly heaven.

Reader, how is it with you? Are you humble enough to take a seat at the feet of Jesus? Is it your delight to listen to his words? Are you like a little child desiring to learn of him, and be taught by him? Are you satisfied—if you can but get near to Jesus? Do you find sweet and refreshing repose in his presence? If so, happy are you!  

Observe now Mary's EMPLOYMENT. She was hearing Jesus. We have not his discourse—but one could almost wish we had. But anything from Jesus would interest Mary. She was receiving his doctrine. It is one thing to hear—but quite another thing to receive. She saw the beauty, tasted the sweetness, and realized the value of the Savior's communications, therefore she drank them in as the dry ground the rain, or the thirsty ox the water.

She endeavored to retain what she heard. She took no notes—but she caught fast hold of the truth with her memory. She held it and would not let it go. Like David, she hid it in her heart. Like another Mary, she laid up those things in her heart. She felt interested in all he said, she was riveted to the spot she had chosen, she was pleased with his various communications, and was profited by all she heard. She seized the opportunity offered her, and thus displayed her ardor, teachableness and spirituality.

She sat at the feet of Jesus in the humble cottage—and she now sits by his side in the heavenly mansion!  

Reader, how is it with you?

Do you hear Jesus, when he speaks by his servants, or in his word?

Do you receive and retain his truth?

Are you pleased with, and profited by, his teachings?

Have you Mary's wisdom, to seize opportunities to get good?

Are you teachable and spiritual as Mary was?

These are important questions, may the Lord apply them, and enable you to answer them.

Let us ever remember, that Jesus is present in his ordinances, and present whenever, and wherever his people meet. For he has said, "Wherever two or three meet together in my name, there am I." Yes, Jesus is as really present, though not as visibly, or sensibly present, as he was in the cottage of Bethany. We may therefore do as Mary did, we may sit down at his feet, listen and receive of his word.

But have we . . .
the open ear to listen;
the honest heart to receive;
the refined taste to enjoy;
the faithful mind to retain;
the humble spirit to embrace;
and the willing mind to take the lowest place—as Mary had?

Too many meet where Jesus is—but . . .
do not perceive him;
do not feel their need of him;
do not thirst for his grace;
do not long for the application of his word.

To them, religion is but a form. To them, the gospel is no more than the word of man. To them, alas! too often, it becomes the savor of death onto death!

My soul, I charge you to take your place, as Mary did—at the feet of Jesus. Let busy Martha be anxious and troubled about many things—only one thing is needful—see to it that you choose the good part which shall not be taken from you.

Go where Jesus goes.

Get near to Jesus if possible, even if you have to force your way through a crowd, as the poor woman in the gospel had.

Keep near to Jesus—let not company, business, or any angry relative draw or drive you away.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus—is the most blessed place under heaven!

Mary's privilege prepares for John's. Those who are willing to sit at the feet of Jesus, and esteem it a privilege to do so; will be raised to lean on Jesus' bosom, and sit by his side forever!

"He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts up the needy from the dunghill; to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory." Oh what a transition, from the dunghill, to inherit the throne of glory! What wonders love can do! How low grace can stoop! What privileges are conferred on worms!

 

I have found Him whom my soul loves!

No healthy Christian can be happy without the presence of Christ. For what the sun is to the day, the moon to the night, or the rain to the soil—that is Jesus to the soul. What a day would be without the sun, or the night without the moon, or the earth without moisture, that would the soul of the believer be without Christ. And yet we often lose a sense of the presence of Jesus, and sin away the enjoyment of his love. As the church of old who retired to bed, when she should have been actively employed for him, and then complained, "By night on my bed, I sought him whom my soul loves, I sought him but I found him not." Jesus will not indulge idleness, nor sanction sloth. Therefore she had to arise, go about the city, and inquire of the watchmen, nor could she again enjoy his presence — until she had passed by them all, and then with a glad heart she exclaimed, "I found him whom my soul loves!" Song of Solomon 3:4.

Here is a pleasing fact, the lost Savior may be found; or the forfeited presence of Jesus may be regained. When convinced of our folly, when humbled under a sense of our sin, when sighing, and crying, with ardent longing, we seek him—then he will give us a fresh manifestation of his love—his great love. Again will he appear to us, disclosing the glories of his person, the beauty of his character, and the excellency of his salvation. Then we afresh perceive his glory, and beauty, and exact adaptation to us, and our love is drawn out to him anew.

Glorious as he appeared at first, every new manifestation of his grace seems to enhance his glory, and bring out some fresh and richer beauty. Then, our sense of our interest in him is sweetly renewed and deepened, and we claim him with confidence as our beloved, our Savior, and our friend. The heart glows with the richest enjoyment, the bosom heaves with ecstatic delight, and the soul overflows with the most pleasurable emotions. Oh, how precious is Jesus now! How wonderful his love. How glorious his grace. How tender his mercy. How efficacious his blood. How magnificent his righteousness. Christ, and everything in Christ—Christ, and everything connected with Christ—is unspeakably beautiful and glorious; so that we lack words to express our thoughts, and we lack thoughts to embody our feelings, which are exquisitely delightful. Who can describe the rapture of a soul, which has been walking in darkness, mourning for the Savior—but can now exclaim, "I have found him whom my soul loves!"

The delightful EFFECTS of it are many and various.

It gives us satisfaction: the desires find the object they have been seeking, the affections enjoy the richest feast, and the soul glides into a calm and delightful repose. We seem to want no more—but only the perpetuation and perfection of what we are now enjoying.

It produces tenderness. We become more cautious and careful, and avoid everything likely to grieve him, or disturb our enjoyment. We become more watchful over ourselves, and against temptations which may lead us astray.

We are more prayerful, spending more time with him alone, pouring out our hearts before him. And this tenderness of conscience, watchfulness of spirit, and prayerfulness of soul—will preserve and keep us from innumerable evils.

It awakens gratitude—deep and soul stirring gratitude. Such gratitude as inspires us with the strongest confidence, fills us with the warmest love, animates us with glowing zeal, and makes the soul eloquent in his praise.

It generates humility, deep and adoring humility. Humility, which makes us loveable, and fires us with love to all about us. Humility which fills us with profound admiration of the conduct and condescension of our Lord, and lays us in the dust at his feet. Humility, which inspires us with lofty expectations, of seeing more of his beauty, enjoying more of his presence, and of being ravished always with his love.

O the blessedness of finding that loved One again, and once more enjoying his presence, and the assurance of his love!

Believer, when Jesus is not enjoyed by you—he is not far from you. He only stands behind the wall. "My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice." Song of Songs 2:9. He is just beyond the watchmen. We are not far from finding him—when we feel and lament his absence. He will soon turn again, and have compassion upon us. If therefore you are seeking him, though discouraged for a time, press on, persevere—for you are sure to find him. "Everyone who seeks—finds."

The lost sinner who has never enjoyed his presence, if he seeks—will find; and the backslider who has sinned away his presence—shall have it restored again. Seek, seek then, for none can seek his face in vain.

When Christ is found after long seeking, and after deep searching of heart, he is more precious, than as if found at once. We value that most—which costs us most. We enjoy that most—which is only gained by much labor and effort. Never does the sun appear so bright, as after the long, cold, dreary night. Never is health so prized, as after a long season of painful sickness. Never is water so sweet, as when the tongue fails for thirst. Just so, never is Jesus so precious, as after the long night of guilt, gloom, and desertion. Never is Jesus so precious, as after we have suffered from broken bones, a wounded spirit, and a troubled conscience. Never is Jesus so precious, as when the fire of God's wrath has seemed to dry up our vital moisture, and the fiery law has almost brought us into the dust of death.

The trumpet of Jubilee, was not so sweet to the bankrupt Israelite; the act of emancipation, was never so delightful to the manacled slave; the proclamation of pardon, was never so precious to the doomed criminal, who expected to be executed in the morning; as is Jesus to the soul, when he manifests himself once more, after a long dreary season of desertion.

Reader! Are you seeking Jesus? Whatever may be your case, circumstances, or discouragements, never give up until you have found him. Find him you will, you must—if you seek for him with all your heart. And when you have found him, do not fear to own it, or neglect to acknowledge it—but in the language of the delighted spouse, exclaim, "I have found him whom my soul loves!"

 

Man's Treatment of God's People

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!" John 15:18-19

Such is the testimony of the Lord Jesus.

Real Christians have never been favorites of the world—and while it continues what it is, they never can be. "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." 1 John 3:13

Nor can the pure and simple gospel be pleasant to the world, because it lays the sinner in the dust, and exalts God as supreme and sovereign. Let us not be surprised then, if we hear worldlings speak against the gospel, and traduce the Lord's people; for what the Romans told Paul is in a good measure true in the present day, "For concerning this sect, we are aware that it is spoken against everywhere." Acts 28:22

This sect originated with Jesus, the hated Nazarene, who came into the world for its good, and to save his people from their sins. He gathered around him many—but they were principally the poor and unlearned. There was nothing in them, or about them, to recommend them to the proud and sensual world. They were begotten of God, born again, and made new creatures in Christ. They . . .
  embraced the truth he taught,
  observed the precepts that he gave,
  and copied the example that he set.
They loved his person, were concerned for his glory, and identified themselves with his interests.

Their creed consisted pretty much in these facts: that man is a lost sinner, that salvation by works is impossible, and therefore it must be all of grace—or not at all. That the Lord Jesus came into the world to take the sinner's place, fulfill the law in the sinner's stead, and die as the sinner's substitute. That on account of what Jesus has done and suffered—pardon, peace, and reconciliation are preached to sinners, and whoever believes is promised everlasting life. That believers should profess faith in Christ, observe his ordinances, and make his will the rule of their lives. That they should love one another, serve one another, and if need be, die for each other. That believing in Jesus, doing his will, and seeking to glorify his name, they secure to themselves an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for them. That as Christians, they should show their conformity to Christ, by loving sinners, doing good even to their enemies, and seeking by all means their salvation. By such hopes they were animated, by such rules they walked, and at such objects they aimed—and yet they were everywhere spoken against.

They themselves were spoken against, because they were generally poor and unlearned; and because they poured contempt on the luxuries, pride, and honors of this world. They were treated as the offscouring of all things, unfit for society, unfit to live. Everyone felt that he might reproach, revile, and speak against a 'Nazarene'. For them, often, there was no protection, no law but to condemn them; and they suffered the loss of all things, and multitudes of them of life itself.

And yet, like Israel in Egypt, the more they were persecuted, the more they multiplied and grew; until at length they spread not only over the Roman empire—but nearly over the world. And, had they retained the simplicity of their lives, the spirituality of their minds, and the correctness of their creed—they would no doubt have encircled the globe. But at length they were courted by royalty, loaded with wealth, and became intoxicated with worldly honors, and then their glory departed. They drank into the spirit of the world, conformed to its maxims and customs, sought its approbation and applause—and so fell from their exalted station, and lost their real dignity.

Their doctrines were spoken against. They insisted upon the fact, that there is but one God, that in the Divine nature there are three persons, and that each person is truly, naturally, and eternally God. That man has sinned, and God is bound to punish, in order to manifest his justice, and maintain the honor of his law. That there is no escaping the punishment of sin—but by an atonement, for "without shedding of blood—there is no remission of sin." That no atonement could be acceptable to God, except it were infinitely meritorious; and consequently that no sinner could atone for his own sins, or redeem his brother, giving unto God a ransom for him. That in order to meet the case, God sent his own Son into the world, who taking human nature into union with his divine nature—undertook to answer for man's conduct, atone for man's sin, and suffer all the penal consequences of man's guilt.

Consequently, that there is salvation in none other—but Jesus; by nothing—beside the perfect work of Jesus. MAN, therefore, must be pardoned as a criminal, for another's sake; must be justified as ungodly, through another's righteousness; must be sanctified as a sinner, through another's agency; must, in a word, be saved as a pauper, wholly and altogether of grace!

Such doctrines, laying as they do, man in the dust, and exalting the Lord alone, were highly offensive to the proud and haughty heart of man, and greatly excited his animosity and disdain. It became necessary, therefore, to suffer for them—OR to dilute and accommodate them to the prejudices of the carnal mind. For a time, the former course was pursued, and the preachers and professors were driven out from human society, wandering about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; or were cruelly put to death.

But while the Nazarenes suffered, their doctrines spread and prospered; and multitudes became obedient unto the faith. But at length professors began to compromise with the world, to mix the water of human ceremonies—with the wine of gospel ordinances; to mingle the doctrines of the heathen—with the doctrines of Christ; and the result was, the sword of the Spirit lost its edge, and the world gave up its opposition to what was now become another gospel; and the sect that had been spoken against everywhere, with the exception of a few, was swallowed up in a worldly church. The crown was lost, the honor was forfeited, and punishment and rejection followed.

But there were always some who had not defiled their garments, who would not mingle among the heathen, or conform to their ways. Some who cleaved to Jesus, held fast his doctrine, and sought to do him honor. These were the objects of hatred, not to the heathen only—but to the worldly church, and these have been called to suffer for the truth, more or less.

There are still some, who, like the ancient sect of the Nazarenes, are spoken against everywhere. They will not swim with the stream. They will not compromise their Master's honor, give up their Master's truth, or change their Master's ordinances. According to the light they have—they walk; and they rejoice to exalt the Savior, humble the sinner, and proclaim salvation, all of grace. Spoken against they are—they will be; but while they maintain an honest conscience, enjoy the peace of God, and experience the comforts of the Holy Spirit; they can rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer shame for His dear name.

Reader, do you belong to this sect? Is there anything in your religion that is distasteful to the world, anything that draws forth its opposition, or excites its contempt? The carnal mind is still enmity against God, and if we are godlike, that enmity will manifest itself against us! If we believe Christ's gospel as it is to be found in his word; if we copy Christ's example, as set before us in the gospel; if we testify against the world, that the works of it are evil, and call upon it to repent, as Christ did, we shall soon be hated by the world! We shall be ranked with those who would turn the world upside down. We shall be called enthusiasts, or hypocrites, or saints, or by some name intended to express contempt.

But if we be reproached for the sake of Christ, happy are we; for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us; on their part he is evil spoken of—but on our part he is glorified. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted!" 2 Timothy 3:12. If, therefore, our religion is palatable to the world, if it awakens no unpleasant remarks, if it calls forth no opposition, if it occasions us no loss in our reputation, or property, or social standing—there is some reason to suspect whether it be genuine and apostolic! One thing is clear, account for it how we may, we do not belong to that sect that is spoken against everywhere.

 

An Appeal to Reason and Faith

By Elihu, God asks Job: "Should I do just as you imagine—ought I to consult your whims? Should it be according to your mind?" Job 34:33

Poor Job found his trial too great for his patience, and he complained, he fretted himself, he reflected badly on God's dealings with him, and stumbled at the dispensations of Divine Providence. How often, how very often—do we do the same! We complain—when we ought to be grateful; we fret—when we ought to praise. We reflect badly on God's ways—when we ought to condemn ourselves; and we stumble at divine providences—when we ought to be resting on the promises.

Complain! What can a sinner have to complain of—who is out of hell? Fret! What can a believer have to fret about—whose heaven is secure? Reflect badly on God's dealings! What, when all his ways are mercy and truth—to such as keep his covenant and his testimonies? Stumble at divine providences! What should stumble us, who are assured that all things shall work together for our good?

With such conduct God may well be displeased! For such conduct God may well chastise us. But he condescends to reason with us. He appeals to our sense of right. He makes us reprove and correct ourselves. He asks US: "Should I do just as you imagine—ought I to consult your whims? Should it be according to your mind?"

To what does this apply? To God's dealings with us as individuals. Should the Most High God consult us—before he gives, or takes, works, or suspends his operations? Are we to be consulted as to the way in which he will lead us home, or the means by which he will prepare us for the joys which are at his right hand? If the Lord promises to do us good by all things—is he to consult us as to how he shall work, or by whom, or by what he shall accomplish his purposes?

It will apply, also, to God's dealings with others. It may be our friends, or our foes; our relatives, or strangers; the Church, or the world. God has taken the management of His world, and every individual in it; of the Church, and every believer that composes it—into his own hand! He says, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. I will work, and who shall hinder me?" Yes, who has a right to question him, or to find fault with him? Friend, do you claim such a right? From whence did you derive it? How do you vindicate it? Things may be done that baffle your reason, perplex your mind, confound your judgment, and grieve your heart—but may they not be right for all that? May they not be the wisest and the best? "Should it be according to your mind?"

But, why do you think thus?

Are you wiser than God? His wisdom is infinite. He is the only wise God, and he displays his wisdom in all he does, and in all he permits to be done. Is it possible that you can imagine yourself capable of devising a wiser plan, or of executing God's plan in a more judicious manner? But if not, "Should it be according to your mind?"

Are you kinder than God? His loving-kindness to man is declared in his word, proved by his works, and is gloriously displayed in our salvation by his Son. His loving-kindness is great beyond conception, and tender beyond description. Kinder than God! You—kinder than God? But if not, "Should it be according to your mind?"

Are you holier than God? He is holy in his nature, and holy in his works. He does nothing but what is strictly just, perfectly right, and calculated to produce the greatest good. If you are not more holy, more just, more righteous than God, "Should it be according to your mind?"

Are you better informed than God? Do you know more of the nature, dispositions, and tendencies of his creatures than he does? Can you see the end from the beginning, and the working of all things to bring about the end, fixed by his wisdom and grace—better than he does? In him dwells all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He knows the whole and every part, the present and the future, which you do not! Your mind is dark, confused, selfish, unsettled, and often undecided! "Should it be according to your mind?"

In order to calm your mind in trouble, to compose your spirits under losses and crosses, remember that God acts in infinite wisdom. His plan, according to which he governs the world, and manages the affairs of every individual—is the perfection of wisdom. It will admit of no improvement. To alter it—would be to injure it. Whatever God does—he purposed to do; and whatever God purposed to do—is infinitely wise and good.

God's motives are just and gracious. God always has a reason for what he does—though he may not reveal it. Whatever he does—is prompted by his justice and grace. He is just to all—but gloriously gracious to his own people. Whatever God has purposed to do, or permit—is worthy of himself. We often act unworthily, and repent of doing it, feeling ashamed of it; but God never does anything, or permits anything—which is unworthy of his nature and character. We may not see this now, for his work is not finished, his plan is not fully carried out; and until it is, "it is the glory of God to conceal a thing!" But he has told us for our comfort, "You do not realize now what I am doing—but later you will understand."

The least we can do is to submit; we ought to approve and acquiesce. True, many things are very painful to flesh and blood, and are very trying to faith and patience; but we have only to give God time to explain himself—and all will be made clear and plain. Then we shall see why it was that we were: robbed of our property, bereaved of our children, separated from our friends, deprived of our health, and persecuted by the world. "The day shall reveal it!" And we shall see what we now profess to believe, that God is too wise to err—and too good to be unkind!

Oh, Christian, you should prefer God's wisdom, way, and work—to your own! Whatever he does—he does well! In all he does—he keeps your good and his own glory in view! And, therefore, when you are displeased with any of his dispensations, he asks you, "Should it be according to your mind?"

Unconverted sinner, God has devised and revealed a way of salvation, in which he can save you, and if you submit, he will save you—but only in his own way, which is entirely of free grace. Your own works count for nothing, Neither your prayers, nor tears, nor efforts—will count at all in the matter; it is all of grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Against this, your proud heart will rise; to it, you will perhaps raise many objections—but if you do, God's question to you, is, "Should it be according to your mind!" Whose will is to be consulted—the will of the Savior—or of those who need to be saved by him?

He has devised a way in infinite wisdom, he has determined to save in that way, though it cost him the life of his only begotten Son, and he is willing and able to save unto the uttermost, all who come unto God by him. Are you anxious to be saved by him? to be delivered from the wrath to come, to be entitled to and prepared for heaven? If so, God is willing to save you, and to you he says at this moment, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ—and you shall be saved!" "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him!"

"Should I do just as you imagine—ought I to consult your whims? Should it be according to your mind?" Job 34:33

 

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,
debases man,
exalts the Savior,
glorifies God,
astonishes angels,
confounds infidels,
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.

 

A New Year's Address

"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, persevering 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."
    Numbers 6:24-26

 

God's Remedy for Man's Malady

"From the sole of your foot to the top of your head, no spot is uninjured — but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores! They have not been cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil." Isaiah 1:6

The whole race of mankind, in consequence of the fall, is infected with a most dreadful, fearful, soul-killing disease!

You are infected with it yourself!

It is in your nature, and its effects are manifested in your conduct! Its seat is in the heart — which has become deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked!

This malignant disease has spread over every faculty of the soul!
The understanding is darkened — so that you cannot see your dreadful state!
The conscience is defiled — and neglects its vital office!
The will is powerfully biased to evil — and chooses what God abhors!
The affections are earth-bound — and set on forbidden things!
The imagination is become sensual — and only employed in evil!
The reason is debased — and calls darkness, light; and light, darkness!
The memory is captivated, and become a storehouse of iniquity!
The whole soul is paralyzed, polluted, and diseased!
Righteousness, before the fall, once lodged in it — but now murderers reside there!
Satan has got possession — and endeavors to lead you to hell in a false peace!

You are naturally . . .
  unfit for heaven,
  at enmity with God,
  exposed to His wrath,
  cursed by His law,
  condemned by His word,
  traveling to perdition,
  and ripening for damnation!

You cannot . . .
  deliver yourself from sin's dominion,
  cleanse yourself from inherent defilement,
  or escape the righteous judgment of God,
by anything that you can do.

You are . . .
  without strength,
  blind to your everlasting welfare,
  and a hater of God!

You . . .
  were born a sinner,
  have lived transgressing,
  and dying in such a state,
will be banished into irremediable woe!

This is your state, reader — whoever you may be!
This is your situation — however you may have lived!
This is your condition — whatever you may think!
Have you ever seen yourself in this situation?
Have you ever felt this to be your case?
Have you ever trembled on account of it — and sought a remedy?
If not, this is the very worst symptom of your disease!
You are . . .
  insensible of your wretched condition,
  under a spiritual derangement,
  and madness is in your heart!

But if you have discovered your malady,
if you have felt sin to be really a dreadful disease,
if you are seeking for a remedy;
then I rejoice in being able to direct you to one that is provided, which may be obtained freely, and will certainly heal you!

God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sin — has devised a way in which He can manifest Himself as a just God and a Savior! He has provided a suitable and glorious remedy for lost, ruined, and undone sinners! This remedy will . . .
  heal the wounded,
  cleanse the filthy,
  sanctify the unholy,
  justify the condemned,
  liberate the captive,
  and save the lost!

It will give . . .
  sight to the blind,
  hearing to the deaf,
  strength to the weak,
  wisdom to the foolish,
  and life to the dead!

It gives . . .
  peace to the distressed,
  direction to the perplexed,
  riches to the poor,
  clothing to the naked,
  the oil of joy for mourning,
  and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

The remedy I allude to — is Jesus the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. His blood is the true balm of Gilead — and he is the physician there! His name is Jehovah-rophi, the Almighty healer of poor sinners! He . . .
  heals all disorders,
  removes all diseases, and
  restores to perfect health,
without money and without cost!

He has opened a fountain for all sin and uncleanness, and all who apply to it find that though their sins were like scarlet — they become white as snow! And though red like crimson — they appear as purest wool.

He has eye-salve to anoint the darkened understanding which enables us to see all things in his light.

He has grace which rectifies the disordered imagination!

He cleanses the guilty conscience, and sanctifies the filthy soul.

He . . .
  removes the evil bias from the will,
  restores reason to its place, and
  fixes the affections on himself.

He makes . . .
  sin hateful,
  holiness lovely, and
  worship delightful.

He . . .
  reconciles to God,
  introduces us into the divine presence,
  and gives us a title to glory!

He . . .
fits us to enjoy spiritual things,
brings down heaven into the heart, and
makes us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

He . . .
  delivers from condemnation,
  rescues from hell, and
  leads all who flee to him — to heaven!

He subdues sin's dominion — and  takes away the love of it from the heart.

He sends the Holy Spirit to wash us with the washing of regeneration, to lead us into the truth, and to seal us to the day of redemption.

He comes himself and takes possession of the heart, reigns in the affections, and sanctifies the whole man.

He brings the Father into the soul, who sheds abroad his love there.

Paradise is restored in the heart.

The soul is made like a watered garden, joy and gladness are found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Guilt is removed by an application of the atonement,
sin's dominion is destroyed by the reigning power of grace,
and the love of sin is taken away by fellowship with him in his sufferings.

The sinner is now reconciled to God,
the conscience is made tender of sinning,
and the soul is justified from all things.

In a word, he cures internally, by the implantation of his graces.
He makes us consistent externally, by teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; and constraining us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.
And He saves us eternally, by his righteousness, blood shedding, and death.

All this, Jesus does for sinners; for all sinners who are made willing to flee to him, believe on him, and receive from him the riches of grace!

All this Jesus does freely without money and without cost! Nothing is required of the sinner as a condition, but a simple willingness to receive, a desire to enjoy, a seeking to possess by humble, earnest prayer. And even this is his gift, it flows from the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, and is the effect of the drawings of the Father; as it is written:
"Every one who has heard and learned of the Father — comes unto me."
"No man can come to me — unless the Father who has sent me, draws him!"
"All whom the Father gives me — shall come to me, and the one who comes to me — I will never cast out."

There is life in Christ for every willing soul. He is a perfect Savior, an atoning sacrifice for our sins, and the only way by which sinners can approach to God with acceptance and comfort. In his person, blood, righteousness, death, and intercession — is a perfect remedy for sinners, let their state, case, or condition be what it may.

This then is the REMEDY, the ONLY remedy that God has provided for sin and sinners — and ALL who flee unto it, and by faith make use of it, are cured for evermore!

Are you coming to Jesus? Are you seeking God's remedy? Or, are you careless still? How important, yes, how infinitely important is the inquiry. My fellow-sinner, let conscience do its office, be honest with yourself for once, and ask, 'Am I coming to Jesus?' If you are not coming to him, you are living at a distance from him, and if you are satisfied so to live, let me tell you — you are satisfied to live as a stranger to real happiness now; destitute of hope for the future; and under the wrath and curse of God! And dreadful to say — but not more dreadful than true: living and dying in such a state — you will have your portion in the lake that burns with brimstone and fire! "Consider this, you who forget God — lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you!" "This shall you have at my hands, says the Lord — you shall lie down in sorrow."

O God the Holy Spirit, draw sinners to Jesus, for healing, health, and everlasting salvation!

 

Grace for the Humble

"He gives us more grace. God opposes the proud—but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6

We have no humility by nature. There may be a softness of disposition, and a readiness to yield to others—but there is no true humility. That is a fruit of the Spirit, a new covenant blessing. One of the marks of God's children, and a proof of God's special love. God makes us humble, and then, approving of our humility, makes many great and precious promises to us in that character. The humble Christian, is an honored character. He is a blessing to all about him, and an honor to Christ. He has much to do with God, receives much from God, and so becomes growingly like God. He avoids many snares, and escapes many dangers into which others fall. He obtains many blessings, and enjoys many comforts, to which others are strangers. O precious grace! O distinguishing mark of the Lord's people! May I grow downward in humility before God. O to be like Jesus, rooted in humility.

But how is true humility to be known? By what is a really humble man distinguished? By many things; we will notice a few.

First, he has a deep sense of the EVIL OF SIN. He looks upon it as the bitter root, from which springs all the woes and wars, all the sadness and sorrow, all the pains and pollution, all the misery and madness, and all the torment and terror—to be found in God's universe! He regards it as that abominable thing which God hates. It is to him a loathsome object, and a subject fraught with all that is base, degrading, and horrible. He looks upon sin as more dreadful than hell. Indeed, he considers sin to be the evil of all evils, and considers that nothing is evil, in comparison with sin.

He often thinks of sin as it has grieved God's heart, murdered God's only begotten Son, and vexed and resisted his Holy Spirit. O if he could but be free from sin! "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" Romans 7:24. But as he is not, he lays low before God, and walks humbly with God.

Second, the humble man has a high esteem of the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST. The glorious work of Jesus lays the foundation of his hope, is the daily food of his faith, and the subject of his sweetest meditations. Seeing as he does, the deep pollution of his nature, the powerful principles of evil which work in his heart, the imperfection of all his graces, and the sinfulness of all his actions—he feels obliged to look to the obedience of Jesus Christ alone, for his justification before God. And the longer he lives, the more glorious does the righteousness of Christ appear to him, and the more precious it is in his personal experience.

For this, he counts all things but dung and dross. For this, he is prepared to part with all. This is his joy, this is his boast, this is his song in the house of his pilgrimage.

Righteousness of Jesus! You shall be my wedding garment, when the marriage of the Lamb has come! You shall be my plea before my Father's throne! You shall be my solace and comfort on my dying pillow, and when I cross the flood!

Third, the humble man is known by his SUBMISSION under afflictive dispensations. Instead of fretting, murmuring, or repining, he is silent like Aaron, or only says like him, if others speak harshly to him, "Such things have befallen me." Instead of kicking like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke, he meekly says with humble Eli, "It is the Lord—let him do what seems him good to him." Instead of reflecting harshly on the Most High God, or indulging vindictive feelings against man, he says with David, "Hear am I, let him do with me, as seems good to him." Like the osier—he bows to the breeze, and like the reed—he bends before the storm.

He realizes, that he has forfeited all by sin, is supplied alone by mercy, and is laid under the deepest obligation to free and sovereign grace. O for the holy submission, which bows the head, silences the tongue, and presents the heart as a whole burnt offering to God!

Fourth, humility fills a man with GRATITUDE for divine mercies. Like Jacob, he feels that he is not worthy of the least of all God's mercies. And like David, he sits in astonishment before God, and asks, "What am I, and what is my father's house—that you should thus favor me?" When he reads his pardon in the blood of Jesus, feels the peace of God in his heart, sees the gifts of a generous providence scattered all round him, and looks forward anticipating his future glory—his heart swells, his soul overflows, and he praises the Lord with joyful lips. And even when darkness surrounds him, and providence seems to frown upon him, he reflects upon his deserts, and what is still left to him, and gives thanks unto God.

Humble souls are always grateful—and grateful souls enjoy much inward peace, and hidden joy. O my God, fill me with humility, that I may daily manifest gratitude to you, and praise your holy name!

Fifth, humility is seen in our MEEKNESS under reproaches. We are apt to be reproached for the sake of Christ; and reproach, unmerited reproach, is hard to bear. It went to the heart of Jesus, who is represented as exclaiming, "Reproach has broken my heart!" It fills human nature with indignation, or it crouches in cowardice, and fawns contemptibly. But the humble Christian, while he deeply feels—he meekly endures, and sometimes rejoices, that he is counted worthy to suffer shame for the precious name of Jesus. He pities and prays for those who treat him reproachfully; and desires for them the peace and comfort that himself enjoys.

O Savior, pattern of meekness under reproaches, O patient, uncomplaining Lamb of God—work in me by your Spirit, conformity to your lamb-like nature, that I may meekly bear, and patiently suffer, whatever shall come upon me for your sake, while in the world!

Sixth, the humble man is known by his CONTENTMENT with the station God has allotted him. Some are always complaining, and can never be satisfied. Scarcely anything is right! They have never enough, or that which is right. They look with an envious eye on some—and with a jealous eye on others. This indicates pride—and arises from the unsubdued state of the heart. They are not—cannot be satisfied.

The humble are the opposite of all this, having food and clothing, they feel that they ought to be content. And, though they may be poor and needy, they look around—and see how many have less; they look down into the pit—and see what they deserve! And then as the Apostle exhorts, they endeavor to be satisfied with such things as they have, seeing God has said, "I will never leave you—nor will I ever forsake you."

Lord, teach me the grace of contentment! "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want!" Philippians 4:11-12

Finally, the humble are known by their love to prayer and all divine appointments. They often plead with God, give thanks to God, and wait before God. Prayer, is at once their relief and delight. They carry everything to God—and in all things aim to please God. They search God's Word—and follow it. They watch God's providence—and admire it. They consult God's will—and do it. They live not unto themselves—but unto him who died for them, and rose again. They observe all Christ's ordinances, and yet do not place the least dependence on any. They do all that they can, and then say, "We are unprofitable servants!" Prayer is a privilege, praise a delight, the house of prayer a home, and the service of God freedom.

O holy Spirit, give me this characteristic of a truly humble man! May I love prayer, and prize all the ordinances, and appointments of my gracious God!

The humble are God's special favorites. God will do anything for them, or give anything to them. "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud—but gives grace to the humble." 1 Peter 5:5.

But who does not love the humble? There is something so lovely in humility, that we cannot but admire it wherever we see it. O that we were all humble, for then we would be all ornamental and useful, and happy!

"He gives us more grace. God opposes the proud—but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6. God gives the grace that makes us humble, and when in obedience to his word, we cultivate humility—he gives more grace! He continues to give grace—as they need grace.

First, he gives grace to them for duty. We can only perform duty aright, in the strength of grace. Besides which, many New Testament duties are so mortifying to the flesh, so contrary to our natural inclinations, that we could never bring ourselves to attempt them, if grace were not given to us. But by the grace of God, we esteem what God approves, we acquiesce in what God requires, and attempt whatever God commands. We can do all things through Christ, and the grace that he gives. O for grace to conform my will to God's will, and to prompt me to attempt, and enable me to perform, whatever is good and acceptable in the sight of God!

Second, he gives grace to sanctify their trials. Unsanctified trials are real evils—but sanctified trials are great blessings. The humble are tried, often deeply tried—but then they receive grace with their trials, which makes them beneficial and profitable. Sanctified trials deepen our humility, strengthen our faith, excite our hope, furnish us with matter for prayer, endear the mercy seat, render the promises precious, lead us to lean more on Jesus, and sow the seeds of praise. They wean us from earth, direct us to heaven, wither our corruptions, brighten our evidences, and prove that our hearts are right with God. May all my trials be sanctified, and so sanctified, that I may be constrained daily to bless the Lord for them. "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your Word!" Psalm 119:67. "It was good for me to be afflicted!" Psalm 119:71

Third, he gives grace to comfort in poverty. Humility is more frequently found in the cottage—than in the mansion; among the poor—than the rich. As some of our sweetest flowers grow and blossom in obscurity, so this most lovely grace grows and blossoms often in the seclusion of humble life. But poverty is not always what it appears to be: under the threadbare coat—often glows the happy heart!

Everything is—what God makes it to us; and he often, very often, makes poverty a ladder by which we climb to heaven; or a cloud which comes laden with the richest blessings. Many experience the beautiful language of the prophet to be true. "The humble shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." I will not fear poverty—if my God will give me grace to comfort me, make it the means of bringing me nearer to himself, and of conforming me to my Savior, who drank deeply of the poor man's cup.

Fourth, he gives grace to deliver in danger. We are often in danger, for dangers stand thick along all our road, and even the humble man would fall into some of them—but for grace. The grace that God gives, strengthens the sight to discern them, imparts prudence to walk wisely among them, and caution to escape injury by them. Others stumble over them, are ensnared by them, or fall into them—but the humble man passes uninjured through the midst of them! O Jesus, I am often in danger, in imminent danger! Send, O send me, day by day, delivering grace!

Fifth, he gives grace to sweeten personal afflictions. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, and affliction is naturally bitter. We cannot like it. We would never choose it. But the Lord sends it, because it is necessary for us—and makes it a blessing to us. To the humble man, with affliction—comes grace; so that on the bed of sickness, in the chamber of bereavement, and in the house of mourning—he is ready to sing! He sees so much mercy in the affliction, he enjoys so much of the love of God under it, or is made so familiar with heaven by it, that he calls it sweet affliction, and blesses God that he ever experienced privation and pain! O for grace in bodily pain and weakness, in bereavement and the alienation of friends—to sweeten this bitter to me!

Sixth, he gives grace to train up for heaven. Heaven is the humble man's destination. To this he is appointed, and for this he must be prepared. He who said to us, "Train up a child in the way that he should go," will Himself train up all His beloved children. By the work of his Spirit within us, by the dispensations of his providence towards us, and by the communication of his grace to us—he trains us up for heaven. The present is to fit us for the future; earth is to fit us for heaven. O Lord, give me grace to make me fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.

Finally, he gives them grace to enable them to leave all events with God. This is the secret of true happiness. This is one of the humble man's greatest privileges. He is not anxious about tomorrow. He leaves God to govern His world; and while He does this—to manage all his affairs both temporal and spiritual, personal and relative. He rests all his cares on the Lord. He rolls all his burdens on his God. He trusts everything in the hands of the Lord. By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, he makes known all his requests unto God, and enjoys the peace of God—while others are tossed with tempests and not comforted. He knows whom he has believed, and to whom he has committed, not only his soul—but his body, and all his affairs—to be kept and to be managed, until Jesus comes the second time, without sin unto salvation. Gracious God, give grace to me—your poor, feeble, fickle child—to enable me to commit all my concerns to You, and to leave them with You!

See then, whom God will visit: "The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble—to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite!" Isaiah 57:15. God loves the humble, he will visit the humble, he will make the humble man's heart — his home.

See what God will give. Not gold—but grace. Not the perishable—but the imperishable. Not what man can procure—but what he himself only can confer. He will give grace, the seed of glory, the sanctification of the heart, the antidote for all the evils of life, and the only sufficient solace and support in death.

See why some are so happy—they are humble! We imagine that we would be happy if we had—an abundance of worldly good things, great abilities, an elevated position, and the admiration of our fellow men. But none of these—nor all these—could make us happy! We may be happy without them—or we may be happy with them—IF we are humble, but in no other way.

Humility is the source of true happiness in this world! Not even God himself could make us happy—but by making us humble. See then, the path of peace and prosperity—humility! The more humility—the more peace. The more humility—the more true prosperity. The lower we are—the more beautiful the sun appears. And the lower we lie in humility—the more we see the beauty of Jesus, and the glory of God. And the more we see of the Savior's beauty and God's glory—the more of true peace and prosperity do we enjoy!

Reader, what do you say to these things? Do you know experimentally what true humility is? Have you been stripped of everything of your own—and as a poor, empty, worthless sinner—have you sought to be saved freely by grace? Do you feel that you are nothing in yourself, and that you can do nothing of yourself? And do you lie at the foot of the cross—as a sinner; at the throne of grace—as a suppliant; and at your heavenly Father's feet—as a little child? If so, happy are you—for God will give you more grace. Expect grace from God, ask grace of God, and use all the grace that you receive for God.

Proud, unhumbled sinner—you must be brought down! Like the proud king Manasseh, you must be humbled, and as a poor, perishing creature—beg a pardon at God's hands, and seek salvation through the Savior's blood. You may be made humble, you may enjoy all the good things we have been speaking of. If you would, you must seek them from God, and be willing to receive them as favors from God. May the Lord make us all humble, holy, and happy!

 

I Do Not Change!

"I am the Lord — I do not change!" Malachi 3:6

Every created thing is liable to change.

Angels have changed — and become devils.

Man has changed — and become a sinner.

The world has changed — and lost its original beauty and excellence.

The seasons change — winter gives place to spring, spring to summer, summer to autumn, and autumn to winter again.

Our feelings change — the sad gives place to the joyous, and the joyous to the sad again.

Our circumstances change — the poor become rich, and the rich become poor.

Our relations change — some are removed by death, others to a far distance, and some become alienated from us.

All within and without us will change, and there may be greater changes than we have ever witnessed yet.

But amidst all the changes we have experienced within, or witness without — we have one unfailing source of comfort: the Lord never changes! He is the same, and will be the same forever. He is in one mind, and none can turn him. Let us then seek to be impressed with this cheering declaration made by God himself, "I am the Lord — I do not change!"

Blessed be his holy name — with him change is impossible!

Here is our rock — on which we may rest secure!

Here is one friend — on whom we may always depend!

An unchanging God, lays an unchangeable foundation for our faith, hope, and comfort. With David, therefore, amidst all the changes of life we may sing, "The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted!" What the Lord was to David — he now is to us; and what he now is — he ever will be.

There can be no change in his LOVE to his redeemed people. Other's may cease to love us, may turn against us, and even hate us — but if the Lord love us once, he loves us forever. Having loved his own that are in the world — he loves them unto the end. His love is everlasting. It is like his nature — eternal. If the Lord loves me in January — he will love me in June; and if he loves me in June — he will love me in December. The God of love, who has set his love upon us, says, "I do not change." Go back as far as we will, we shall never arrive at the beginning of his love; and go forward as far as we may, we shall never come to the end of it. The love of God is eternal love.

There can be no change in his PURPOSES.
Originating
as they do in the highest wisdom,
formed
as they are for the glorifying of his own nature,
comprehending
as they do all our needs, and
aiming
as they do at our welfare
 — they are unchangeable.

According to his eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord — he arranged all things that concern his people, both on earth and in Heaven. And now he works all things, after the counsel of his own will.

All his purposes culminate in this one point — to do us the greatest good, and in so doing to get himself the greatest glory. God's purposes embrace all the days of the year, and all the events of every day in the year; and, therefore, though I know not what may take place, I know that all things shall work together for good to those who love God, and are the called according to his purpose.

There can be no change in his PROMISES to his redeemed people. The word of the Lord stands forever, and the thoughts of his heart unto all generations. God has made many exceeding great and very precious promises:
they embrace all his people,
they provide for all our needs,
they forbid all our doubts and fears,
and they secure to us all possible good.

There is a promise . . .
for every day,
to meet every trial,
to cheer every believer, and
to give us confidence under all the changes of life.

By the promises, God pledges himself to his people, and engages to . . .
supply all their needs,
conquer all their foes, and
glorify himself in all their changes.

God's promises are as immutable as his nature, for Heaven and earth may pass away — but his words shall never pass away. Man may break his word — but God cannot; man may change his mind — but God will not.

There can be no change in his RELATION to his redeemed people. Is God is my Father today — he will be my Father forever.

For me, he will ever feel a father's love;
over me, he will ever exercise a a father's care;
to deliver me, he will ever stretch out a father's hand.

Earthly parents may cease to love their children, may cease to care for their offspring, may refuse to help those who ought to be dear to them as life itself — but it can never be so with God! He asks, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?" He admits, "Yes, they may forget." But he adds, "Yet will I never forget you."

Correct us he may, he will, if we need it — but turn his back upon us, close his door on us, or shut up his heart against us — he never will!

There can be no change in his SYMPATHY. Through Jesus, God has a fellow feeling with his people; he is touched with a sense of their infirmities; in all their afflictions, he is afflicted. His heart throbs in unison with theirs. He ever makes their bed in their sickness.

He is full of compassion.

He is plenteous in mercy.

He is ready to forgive.

He waits to be gracious.

Let who will, become hardened against us — let who will, fail to sympathize with us — the Lord never will. "We may therefore rejoice in the prospect of all the changes that may take place in the future, and say, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear!"

Does the Lord say to us, "I do not change!" Then he encourages us to trust him with an unshaken confidence. We may trust him at all times. We may trust him with what we value most. We may trust him to make good in our experience, every promise in his word. However the dispensations of his providence may change — he will remain the same, in his love, purposes, and sympathy to us. Therefore we may say with Job, "Though he slays me — yet will I trust in him." Let us endeavor to exercise a full, steady, and constant trust in the Lord from day to day, remembering that, "those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed — but abides forever!"

Does the Lord say to us, "I do not change!" Then we may go to him in all our trials, difficulties, and troubles! We may pour out our hearts before him, plead his precious promises, and expect answers of peace from him. He who heard and answered Jacob — will hear and answer us. He who listened to David and delivered him — will listen to and deliver us. He who appeared for Israel in the desert as their circumstances required — will appear for us as ours may require. Abraham's God is ours, and he will be to us what he was to Abraham — even our shield, and our exceeding great reward.

Does the Lord say to us, "I do not change!" Then let us rejoice and be glad, for God's immutability will be . . .
the ground of our security,
the source of our comfort, and
the foundation of our peace.

What shall we fear — with God, the unchangeable God on our side? Of whom shall we be afraid — with the omnipotent and immutable Jehovah, to take our part? Beloved, let us anew surrender ourselves to God, exercising confidence in God, and engaging to work for God.

Lost sinner, if God will not change — then you must, or your end will be fearful. He has said, "The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God." You are either wicked — or righteous, depraved — or holy; if the former, your doom is dreadful, except you repent. Change — God will not; change — you must, or . . .
die without mercy,
perish without pity, and
be punished without end!

O come to Jesus, and obtain pardon, peace, and everlasting life!

 

A Grateful Acknowledgment

"I was pushed back and about to fall — but the Lord helped me!" Psalm 118:13

The psalmist had been reviewing his toils, his trials, and his dangers; he commemorates his deliverances, his conquests, and his triumphs; and he ascribes the whole to the help of God. If God had not helped him — his faith would have failed, his expectations would have been disappointed, and his foes would have prevailed. Through the Lord, he did valiantly; and now, with joyful heart, he records the loving-kindness of the Lord.

How sweet to look back upon the rough road, the bloody battle-field, the scenes of peculiar trial — when we have arrived at some pleasant resting-place, enjoy peace within and around us, and see our trials as past exercises. Then, if ever, gratitude will work within us, and praises will flow from our tongues and hearts. Delivered from the mouth of the lion, and the paw of the bear — we thankfully acknowledge, "The Lord helped me!"

In looking back we see that we have needed help — and more help than any creature could afford us!

The daily cross,
the inward conflict,
the domestic troubles,
the perplexities of business,
the state of the church,
the affairs of the world —
have all combined to teach us that Divine help was necessary. If God had not helped us . . .
we would have fallen into sin,
we would have disgraced our profession,
we would have been crushed by our foes,
we would have fainted under our trials,
we would have apostatized from the faith!

God alone knows what would have been the result — if we had been left to our own resources. We needed help in infancy, in youth, in manhood. We needed help in prosperity — and in adversity! We needed help in temporals — and spirituals. We found our own strength — to be weakness, and our own wisdom — to be folly. The feeblest of our foes would have been more than a match for us! The least corruption in our hearts would have overcome us!

And we need help now — as much as we ever did; for, unless the Lord helps us . . .
our foes will yet triumph over us,
our crosses will prove to be too much for us,
and we shall faint in the day of adversity!

We feel that we need help at present:
we feel it in the field of labor,
we feel it on the bed of sickness,
we feel it in the church of God, and
we feel it at the throne of grace.

The Lord has promised help. He has said, "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." And because his people feel themselves to be vile, weak, and incompetent; because their foes despise them, scoff at them, and treat them with contempt — he stoops to speak to them according to their own views of themselves, and their enemies' representations of them, and says, "Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel — for I myself will help you! declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff!"

When the Lord helps — a worm can scatter mountains, and conquer the most formidable foes; and the Lord has promised thus to help the poorest, the lowest, the most despised of his people. Oh, precious promise, of a good and gracious God!
It extends to all times,
it embraces all circumstances,
it belongs to all believers, and
it ensures us a triumph over all our foes!

Nor is it a solitary promise, only once made, only recorded in one place in God's book. No; it is repeated again and again. When his people imagined that he had neglected them; when their hearts were rising against him, and their mouths complaining of him — he comes forth to correct their mistake, to still their fears, and to silence their complaints. He refers to their knowledge of his character and perfections; to his constant dealings with his people; and promises not only to help them — but to do exceeding and abundantly above all that they could ask or think! "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel: 'My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God'? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint!"

This gracious promise, in all its glorious meaning, belongs to us! Let us understand it, believe it, plead it before God's throne, and expect its fulfillment!

The psalmist had sought help of the Lord. "In the day of my trouble — I cried unto you." If God has promised — then we should pray. The promises tell us what God is willing to do, and to give; but God intends that we shall believe his word, and apply to him for the needed blessing. When troubles drive us to the Bible, and to the throne of grace — then they do us good, as they are sanctified to us. This is the effect that trials are intended to have. Help may be had — but help must be sought. It is sometimes the case that we "have not — because we ask not, or because we ask amiss."

God is willing to help us; but he says, "You must feel that you cannot do without me; you must come and ask me; you must believe my word; you must wait my time — and you shall receive the help you need, in my way." We do not always understand what the Lord means, or we do not cheerfully submit to God's method; and therefore we are left for a time without the needed, the desired, help. Let us endeavor to understand God's method, to approve of God's plan, to wait at God's throne, to watch in God's ways; and then, in reference to every trial, trouble, or conflict, we shall have to say, "The Lord helped me!"

Yes, help had been received — not once or twice — but all through the writer's pilgrimage. But there were some special seasons in which the Lord displayed his power, and manifested himself as the hearer and answerer of prayer.

Just so has it been with every Christian. We have had daily help, for we could not live the Christian life without; but we have had special help in times of peculiar trouble and trial. We can look back with David to the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites to the hill Mizar. We can remember the lion, the bear, Goliath, and Saul. Times of peculiar danger — were times when we received special help; and we may say with the apostle, "The Lord stood with me and strengthened me, and I was delivered!" And again, "Having obtained help of God, I continue unto this day."

Where would we have been now — but for supplies of the Spirit of Christ? but for special interventions of Divine Providence? but for the necessary communications of Divine strength? Yes, the strength of Jesus has been perfected in our weakness; we have found his grace to be sufficient for us, and to the praise of his glorious grace, in reference to all our trials, troubles, and conflicts, we can say, "The Lord helped me!"

Help is here gratefully acknowledged. The least we can do is to be grateful for the help we have received. And yet, this is the very last thing which some think of; they pray, receive, and forget to acknowledge — unless stirred up by some special event. Few Ebenezers are set up by some professors of religion on the road to glory; they but seldom sing with a grateful heart, "The Lord helped me!" Indeed, we are all defective here. Oh, that God would pour out upon all his people a spirit of gratitude — and not teach us the value of our mercies by the loss of them!

The help we have received is only introductory to what our God intends to give; for his mercies are like a chain, and every link draws the next nearer to us — until we receive the crowning mercy, even eternal life in glory. Let us, therefore, look to the Lord as our helper; remember that he is a very present help in times of trouble; and endeavor to say boldly as the apostle directs us, "The Lord is my helper — I will not fear what man shall do unto me." What can man do that shall harm us — if God is with us, and for us? What is the power of the mightiest mortal — if matched with Omnipotence?

Oh, beloved, it is an unspeakable mercy to have God for our helper; and to be able to look back upon our past course, and trace the helping hand of God working for us, working with us, and working out our deliverances! Let us reflect upon past help, as Paul upon past deliverances — and draw the same conclusion as he did, "He who has helped us in time past, who does help us at present — we trust that he will yet help us!" And if we honor the Lord by trusting him — he will be sure to honor us, by helping us under all our difficulties, and out of all our troubles. So that to us may be applied the language of Moses, the man of God, respecting Israel; "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms! He will drive out your enemy before you. So Israel will live in safety alone. Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places!"

 

The Dry Bones!

"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones! He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry!" Ezekiel 37:1-2

Many and striking are the representations given, of the state into which sin plunged Israel of old. But perhaps none are more striking than the valley of dry bones. This shows most clearly that their deliverance must be of God — and of God alone. Means of themselves were wholly insufficient.

And this representation suits the state of the sinner, and sets forth most clearly, the true condition of all men in a state of nature, concerning spiritual things. We, like the prophet, are in a valley which is full of bones, and like him we may say, "I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry!" Let us consider these words, as giving us:

A Description of the Sinner's State. Man is helpless, for what can dry bones do? But dry bones are not more helpless in a physical sense — than sinners are in a spiritual sense; for they are totally destitute of all life and power. Being thus helpless, they are considered, in themselves hopeless — for what can dry bones expect? Just so, man, being a sinner, an enemy of God, cannot expect any spiritual good from God. Neither does he, or so much as desire it.

But he is not only helpless and hopeless — he is unconscious of his state. The physically dead know nothing; just so, the dead in sin know nothing spiritually. They are unconscious of their real state and condition before God, therefore they imagine that they are all right — when they are all wrong; and cry 'peace and safety', while they are in the greatest possible danger! And this is not merely the case with some — it is universally the case. They have all gone out of the way, they are altogether become unprofitable; there is none that does good — no not one! See then,

The Necessity of Divine Intervention. They are beyond the power of man or of any creature to help them; for as no creature can raise the dead, or form dry bones into a living man — so no creature can raise the dead in sin, or form living saints, out of dead sinners! They are beyond the power of the Word of God alone — they may read it, or hear it preached — but without the operation of the Holy Spirit, it will produce no saving effect. God himself must work. We are shut up to this, for except God comes into the "valley of dry bones", and exerts his omnipotent power — no soul will ever be saved. It requires as much power to convert a sinner — as it did to create the world, or to form men out of the dust of the earth at first! It is not by human might, nor by any creature's power — that souls are raised from a death in sin, to a life of righteousness — but by the Spirit of the Lord alone.

What Then, Will Sight Views of this Subject Produce in Us?

PITY, for we can but pity creatures who are so helpless and so hopeless, even though they have become so by their own fault.

PRAYER, for surely if we pity them, we shall desire to rescue them, and if we see that none but God can deliver them, we shall beseech him to do so.

EFFORT, for if we pity and pray for them, we shall exert ourselves, and use all the means in our power on their behalf.

DEPENDENCE ON GOD, for if we realize that God only can save, we shall pity, pray for, and make use of every effort — in dependence on God alone.

EXPECTATION FROM GOD, for if he has encouraged us to pity, pray for, and endeavor to save souls from death — he will work by us, and crown our efforts with success.

CONTINUED APPEALS TO GOD, for if we see aright, and feel aright — we shall be constantly looking up to God, and appealing to his pity and his power, for the success of our feeble efforts.

What is the place where we reside? What is England? What is the world at large? A valley of dry bones! And there are many bones in the open valley; and, lo, they are very dry.

What is man spiritually considered? A skeleton, or a collection of dry bones.

How long has he been in such a dreadful condition? Long enough for the bones to have become very dry.

Who can effectually help him? God, and God alone!

What then are we? Living, spiritual people — or, dry bones?

If spiritual people — then who raised us from the dead? Who called us into a state of spiritual life? The Lord in the exercise of his sovereignty, and by the exertion of his almighty power, and the Lord alone!

What is now required of us? To live a resurrection life, or as those who are raised from the dead, and who make the life of the risen Jesus, their copy and example.

What should be rendered by us? The praises of our lips, the sacrifice of our persons, body and soul; and the earnest, hearty service of our lives. We should live, not only like him who raised us — but for him, and for his honor and glory alone.

Brethren, we live under solemn circumstances, surrounded by perishing immortals! We live in a very heart-affecting situation — a valley of dry bones! We have become accustomed to it — or we would be very seriously and deeply affected by it.

Let us remember that Jesus who raised Lazarus, and who quickened us — can quicken and raise any, or all of those around us. He has said "as the Father quickens whom he will, so he has given to the Son to quicken whom he will." And again, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live."

Let us then, not only speak of Jesus, and write of Jesus — but let us go and tell Jesus, and beseech him to come down into the valley, and breathe upon the slain — that they may live!

O Jesus, author and giver of life, of life natural, and life spiritual — look upon the dry bones in our open valley, for they are very many, and they are very dry! But speak, Lord — and they shall live, and stand up an exceeding great army, to witness to your power, to testify of your grace, and to praise your name. Come, O come, Spirit of the Lord, and breathe upon these slain — that they may live!

 

Cling to the Cross!

The cross of Christ represents his perfect work. On the cross he finished the work the Father had given him to do. Here he finished the atonement for transgression, here he expiated sin, and here he brought in an everlasting righteousness, for all who truly believe in him.

To embrace the cross, therefore, is to receive and rest upon the perfect work of Christ, as the ground of our acceptance with God.

And faith in the cross, is believing that Jesus has made a full atonement for our sins, and venturing on that atonement alone, for the salvation of our souls.

Clinging to the cross, supposes that I have let go everything else, and that I throw my arms around it, and venture the whole weight of my eternal interests upon it. Clinging to the cross, intimates that I have both arms at liberty—that I turn my back on everything else, and facing it—I clasp it with a firm grasp, as a drowning mariner would a broken mast that was floating by his side.

There must be the renunciation of self, of every good work, of every religious duty, sacrament, office, and pretension; or there will be no clinging to the cross.

Self-despair always precedes this exercise of the soul; consequently there must be sound conviction of sin, a heart-felt sense of danger, and a thorough weaning from all false refuges. The cross will not unite with anything else, in laying a foundation of true hope, or a ground of acceptance with God. It must be the cross alone.

Therefore, said the Apostle, "May I never boast—except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!" Galatians 6:14

Having embraced the cross, we should never loose our hold of it, nor allow anything to tempt us to draw one hand from it—but firmer and firmer should we grasp it. This then is our exhortation, Cling to the cross!

Cling to the cross—if you would enjoy PEACE of conscience, and peace with God. Jesus made peace by the blood of his cross, and we can only know peace by embracing the cross. The moment the eye is taken off self and every other object—and fixed on Jesus alone as dying the just for the unjust—we have peace. And so long as the eye is kept steadily fixed on the cross—we enjoy peace; but if only for one moment, any object is allowed to come between our eye and the cross—our peace is disturbed! Nor can we recover our tranquility, until we again turn from everything else—and fix the eye on the crucified One!

The soul may try prayers, penances, ordinances, anything, everything; but there is no solid, settled peace—but by clinging to the cross.

Cling to the cross—if you would enjoy CONFIDENCE in God.

In the cross, we see that Jehovah is a just God and a Savior.

On the cross we see written in large capitals, "GOD IS LOVE!"

From the cross we hear Jehovah say, "Fury is not in me!"

The cross reveals God to us as "Gracious, merciful, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth." Through the cross we see God, not exacting—but offering; not expelling—but inviting; not threatening—but promising!

If I look at God through the cross—I see a gracious Father, a loving friend, a glorious portion!

At the cross there is everything to inspire, feed, and strengthen confidence. Here slavish fears die, doubts are speedily dispersed, and joy and praise spring up in their place. At a distance from the cross, the confidence of a sinner becomes feeble—it fades, and dies. The closer we cling to the cross—the stronger, the steadier, the more influential our confidence becomes! Let us therefore cling to the cross, and thus hold fast the confidence we had at the beginning.

Cling to the cross—if you would have COURAGE in the cause of Christ! Nothing nerves the heart—like faith in his blood. Nothing emboldens the soul—like a firm hold of the cross. Courage is sure to be needed—for every Christian soldier must go to the war. Christ keeps no militia. He has no feather-bed soldiers for mere show. We must fight—if we are to conquer! And we must conquer—if we are to reign! And in order to this—courage is necessary.

If we look at the nature, number, experience, and determination of our foes—there is enough to dishearten and cast us down! If we consult the flesh—we shall be sure to turn cowards and run away. But if we cling to the cross—we shall be encouraged by the example of him who died on it, we shall be inspired by the love that impelled him to endure it, and the very grasp we give it—will fire our souls and fill us with fervor; so that we shall be ready to cry out with Paul, even when we see our enemies in all their boasted glory, "None of these things move me, neither do I count my life dear unto myself." Let us therefore cling to the cross—and so shall we have courage to endure hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

Cling to the cross—though your SINS rise up before you like mountains for their size; like the sands on the sea shore for their number; and glowing like scarlet and crimson, in color!

For no sins, however great, or however numerous, should tempt us to despond, or let go our hold on the cross—seeing the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from ALL sin.

There is a 'buoyancy' in the cross—which will never let anyone sink, who clings to it!

If our sins were as ponderous as the globe, or as numerous as all the particles of created matter—yet embracing the cross of Jesus—they are all forgiven, and forgiven forever!

They are all blotted out—like the dark clouds, which obscured the sun for a little while on the summer's morning!

They are all blotted out—like a stone cast from an angel's hand into the depths of the ocean! They are all forgiven and forgotten forever! Cling to the cross!

Cling to the cross—though Satan tries to induce you to let your hold go. He may suggest that you are not one of God's elect; that for you the Savior never died; that your day of grace is past; that you have committed the unpardonable sin; or that God has given you up. He may try to lead you to compare yourself with some of the saints, who are deeply sanctified; or he may point to the hardness of your heart, your lack of love to Christ, the apparent uselessness of your life, the confusion of your mind on spiritual subjects, or your lack of life and power in prayer.

But let him suggest whatever he may; let him paint whatever pictures he will on your imagination, let his fiery darts be hurled at your head or heart with ever such force—still cling to the cross! Clinging to the cross, you are a match for Satan, and he well knows that; therefore he will try by all means, to get you to let go your hold. He will pervert doctrines, misapply portions of Scripture, and labor with all possible skill and assiduity to withdraw you from the cross. But whenever he attempts this, let him use whatever means he may; remember it is written of your brethren who were once just as you are now, that, though Satan, that old serpent, the devil, deceived the whole world—yet they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb!

Cling to the cross—though dullness and gloom seem to settle on your soul. It is but for the trial of your faith. If you cannot see the cross distinctly—then grasp it more tightly! Hold it more firmly!

The cross of Jesus was hidden by darkness once—but it only lasted three hours; and the darkness that now broods over your soul, will not last long. Cling to the cross, and behind it the sun will soon be seen to rise; and mounting to the meridian, it will disperse your gloom, dissipate your fear