Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER 2010

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O fearful state! O terrible condition! O awful doom!

(James Smith, "Rills from the Rock of Ages", 1860)

"Whoever believes in Him is not condemned — but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son!" John 3:18

The unbeliever's condemnation is for sin; but his condemnation is not merely for violating the law — but for refusing a pardon, presented to him by God as an act of infinite mercy.

Every unbeliever is presently in a state of condemnation!

He is condemned, BY WHOM? By God, the righteous Judge, the Judge of all.

He is condemned, FOR WHAT? Not merely for breaking the law — but for insulting the Lawgiver, by refusing a pardon, procured at no less a cost than the death of his Son, and presented in the everlasting gospel.

He is condemned, WHEN? Now, already! At this moment, while he reads these lines! The manacled criminal in his cell, waiting for the day of execution, is not more really condemned, than is every unbeliever!

He is condemned, TO WHAT? Ah, who can tell? His punishment is represented . . .
by blackness, darkness, and a horrible tempest!
By weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth!
By a lake of fire, a bottomless pit, and a gnawing worm which never dies!

He is condemned, WITH WHOM? The devil and his demons — and with most depraved of the human race!

He is condemned, BY WHAT? Both the law — and the gospel; both the Creator — and the Savior!

See then, every unbeliever's state — he is condemned already! Yes, however moral the life, however amiable the disposition — he is condemned already! Condemned to be driven from God, from holy angels, from blessed believers; and to be associated with devils and damned souls forever! Condemned, just because he would not believe in Jesus — he would not accept the pardon — he would not be reconciled to God.

O strange infatuation! O fearful delusion! O astonishing power of sin!
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life — but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath abides on him!" John 3:36

O fearful state! O terrible condition! O awful doom!

Believe at once — and escape so terrible a doom!

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The Friend of His people in distress!

(James Smith)

"You have known my soul in adversities!" Psalm 31:7

Prosperity makes friends — but adversity tries them.
Many will visit and smile upon us — when the sun shines.
Few will venture out to do us good — in the wintry or stormy day!

David had been in adversity; he had been forsaken and neglected by his friends — but not by his God! His God . . .
  knew him,
  and visited him,
  and cared for him,
  and sympathized with him,
  and supplied him,
  and at length delivered him.

This honor have all His saints! We have been in adversity, we have passed through a wilderness; but our God has . . .
  led us,
  and fed us,
  and preserved us,
  and brought us out into a wealthy place.

We can witness for Him in reference to the past; and we ought calmly, quietly, and confidently to trust Him for the future. He has pledged His Word that He will deliver us in six troubles, and that in seven no evil shall touch us; and He who has promised is faithful.

He is emphatically, the Friend of His people in distress!

In our greatest trials — He will manifest His richest grace!

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(John MacDuff, "The Rainbow in the Clouds")

"Let the Lord be exalted, who delights in the prosperity of his servant." Psalm 35:27

What is "prosperity?" Is it threads of life weaved into a bright outcome? a full cup? ample riches? worldly applause? an unbroken circle? No! these are often a snare; received without gratitude; dimming the soul to its nobler destinies. Often spiritually, it rather means God taking us by the hand into the lowly Valleys of Humiliation; leading us as He did His servant Job of old; out of his sheep, oxen, camels, health, wealth, children; in order that we may be brought before Him in the dust, and say, "Blessed be His holy name!"

Yes! The very reverse of what is generally known in the world as Prosperity — forms the background on which the Rainbow of Promise is seen. God smiles on us through these rainbows and teardrops of sorrows! He loves us too well. He has too great an interest in our spiritual welfare to permit us to live on in what is misnamed "Prosperity." When He sees duties languidly performed, or coldly neglected, the heart deadened, and love to Himself congealed by the absorbing power of the present world — He puts a thorn in our nest to drive us to the wing — and prevent our being grovelers forever!

I may not be able now to understand the mystery of these dealings. I may be asking through the tears, "Why this unkind arrest on my earthly happiness? Why so premature a lopping of my boughs of promise? Why such a speedy withering of my most cherished gourd?" The answer is plain. It is your soul's prosperity which He has in view. Believe it — your true Ebenezers will yet be raised close by your Zarephaths (the place of furnace).

His afflictions are no arbitrary appointments. There is righteous necessity in all that He does. As He lays His chastening hand upon you, and leads you by ways you know not, and which you never would have chosen — He whispers the gentle accents in your ear, "Beloved I wish above all things that you would prosper — even as your soul prospers."

Rest in the quiet consciousness that all is well. Murmur at nothing which brings you nearer to His own loving Presence. Be thankful for your very cares, because you can confidently cast them all upon Him. He has both your temporal and eternal "prosperity" too much at heart — to appoint one superfluous pang, one needless stroke. Commit therefore, all that concerns you to His safe keeping, and leave it there!

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(John MacDuff, "The Rainbow in the Clouds")

"For whom the Lord loves — He chastens." Hebrews 12:6

What! God loves me — when He is discharging His quiver upon me — when He is emptying me from vessel to vessel — when He is causing the sun of my earthly joys to set in clouds? Yes! O afflicted, tempest-tossed one, He chastens you — because He loves you! This trial comes from His own tender, loving hand — from His own tender, unchanging heart!

Are you laid on a sickbed — with sorrowful months and wearisome nights appointed unto you? Let this be the pillow on which your aching head reclines: It is because He loves me!

Is it bereavement which has swept your heart and desolated your dwelling? He appointed that chamber of death — because He loves you! As it is the suffering child of the family which claims a mother's deepest affections and most tender solicitude — so have you at this moment embarked on your side, the most tender love and solicitude of your heavenly Father. He loved you into this sorrow — and will love you through it. There is nothing capricious in His dealings. LOVE is the reason for all that He does. There is not one drop of wrath — in that bitter cup you are called to drink!

Says one, "He has purchased these afflictions for us, as well as everything else. Blessed be His name, it is part of His covenant to visit us with the rod." What does our adorable Lord Himself say? The words were spoken, not when He was on earth, a sojourner in a sorrowing world — but when enthroned amid the glories of Heaven. "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten." Believer! rejoice in the thought that the rod, the chastening rod — is in the hands of the living, loving Savior who died for you!

Tribulation is the King's Highway — and yet that highway is paved with love. As some flowers require crushing before shedding their fragrance — so does your God think it suitable to bruise you. As some birds are said to sing their sweetest notes when the thorn pierces their bosom — so does He appoint affliction to lacerate — that you may be driven to the wing, singing, in your upward soaring, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed!"

Be it ours to say, "Lord, I will love You not only despite Your rod — but because of Your rod! I will rush into the very arms that are chastening me!"

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(John MacDuff, "The Rainbow in the Clouds")

"I know their sorrows!" Exodus 3:7

Man cannot say so. There are many sensitive fibers in the soul, which the best and most tender human sympathy cannot touch. But the Prince of Sufferers, He who led the way in the path of sorrow, "knows our frame." When crushing bereavement lies like ice on the heart, when the dearest earthly friend cannot enter into the peculiarities of our grief — Jesus can, Jesus does! He who once bore my sins — also carried my sorrows. That eye, now on the throne, was once dim with weeping! I can think in all my afflictions — "He was afflicted;" in all my tears — "Jesus wept."

"I know their sorrows!" He may seem at times thus to forget and forsake us; leaving us to utter the plaintive cry, "Has God forgotten to be gracious?" when all the while He is bending over us in the most tender love. He often allows our needs to attain their extremity, that He may stretch forth His succoring hand, and reveal the plenitude of His grace! "The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy."

And "knowing" our sorrows, is a guarantee that none will be sent — but only what He sees to be needful. "I will not," says He, "make a full end of you — but I will correct you in measure." All that He sends is precisely meted out; wisely apportioned. There is nothing accidental — no unneeded thorn; no superfluous pang. He "puts our tears in a bottle." Each one is counted, drop by drop, tear by tear, they are sacred things among the treasures of God!

Suffering believer, the iron may have entered deeply into your soul — yet rejoice! Jesus — a sorrowing, sympathizing Jesus — "knows" your aching pangs and burning tears, and He will "come down to deliver you!" Exodus 3:8

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are!" Hebrews 4:15

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(John MacDuff, "The Words of Jesus")

"The very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:30

What a promise is this! All that befalls you, to the very numbering of your hairs — is known to God! Nothing can happen by accident or chance. Nothing can elude His inspection. The fall of the forest leaf — the fluttering of the insect — the waving of the angel's wing — the annihilation of a world — all are equally noted by Him! Man speaks of great things and small things — but God knows no such distinction.

How especially comforting to think of this tender solicitude with reference to His own covenant people — that He metes out all  their joys — and all their sorrows! Every sweet — and every bitter — is ordained by Him. Even "wearisome nights" are "appointed." Not a pang I feel, not a tear I shed — but is known to Him. What are called "dark dealings," are the ordinations of undeviating faithfulness. Man may err — his ways are often crooked; "but as for God — His way is perfect!" He puts my tears into His bottle. Every moment His everlasting arms are underneath and around me. He keeps me "as the apple of His eye." He "bears" me as a man bears his own son!

Do I look to the FUTURE? Is there much of uncertainty and mystery hanging over it? It may be, much foreboding of evil. Trust Him! All is marked out for me. Dangers will be averted; bewildering mazes will show themselves to be interlaced and interweaved with mercy. "He keeps the feet of His saints." Not a hair of their head will be touched.

He leads sometimes darkly, sometimes sorrowfully; most frequently by cross and circuitous ways, which we ourselves would not have chosen; but always wisely, always tenderly. With all its mazy windings and turnings, its roughness and ruggedness — the believer's is not only a right way — but the right way — the best which covenant love and wisdom could select.

"Nothing," says Jeremy Taylor, "does so establish the mind amid the rollings and turbulence of present things — as both a look above them and a look beyond them; above them — to the steady and loving hand by which they are ruled; and beyond them — to the sweet and beautiful end to which, by that hand, they will be brought." "The Great Counselor," says Thomas Brooks, "puts clouds and darkness round about Him, bidding us follow at His beck through the cloud, promising an eternal and uninterrupted sunshine on the other side." On that "other side" we shall see how every apparent rough blast has been hastening our boats nearer the desired haven.

Well may I commit the keeping of my soul to Jesus in well-doing — as unto a faithful Creator. He gave Himself for me. This transcendent pledge of love — is the guarantee for the bestowment of every other needed blessing. Oh, blessed thought! my sorrows are numbered — by the Man of Sorrows; my tears
are counted — by Him who shed first His tears, and then His blood for me! He will impose no needless burden, and exact no unnecessary sacrifice. There was no unnecessary drop in the cup of His own sufferings; neither will there be in that of His people. "Though He slays me — yet will I trust in Him!" "Therefore comfort one another with these words."

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The voice of Jesus in the storm!

John MacDuff, "The Words of Jesus")

"Take courage! It is I — do not be afraid!" Mark 6:50

Jesus lives! His people may dispel their misgivings — for Omnipotence treads the waves! To sense it may seem at times to be otherwise —  accident and chance may appear to regulate human allotments; but not so! "The Lord's voice is upon the waters!" He sits at the helm, guiding the tempest-tossed bark — and guiding it well.

How often does He come to us as He did to the disciples in that midnight hour, when all seems lost, "in the fourth watch of the night," — when we least looked for Him; or when, like the shipwrecked apostle, "When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved!" — how often just at that moment, is the word of Jesus heard floating over the billows,
"Take courage! It is I — do not be afraid!"

Believer, are you in trouble? Listen to the voice in the storm, "It is I — do not be afraid!" He seems to say: "It was I — who roused the storm! It is I — who when it has done its work, will calm it, and say, 'Peace, be still.' Every wave rolls at My bidding — every trial is My appointment — all have some gracious end; they are not sent to dash you against the sunken rocks — but to waft you nearer to Heaven!"

Is it sickness? "I am He who ordained your sicknesses! The weary wasted frame, and the nights of languishing — were sent by Me!"

Is it bereavement? "I am 'the Brother' born for adversity! Your loved and lost were plucked away by Me!"

Is it death? "I am the 'Abolisher of death,' seated by your side to calm the waves of ebbing life! It is I — about to fetch My pilgrim home. It is My voice that speaks: the Master has come — and calls for you!"

Reader, you will have reason yet to praise your God for every such storm! This is the history of every heavenly voyager, "SO He brings them to their desired haven."

And what, then, should your attitude be? "Looking unto Jesus!" Looking away from self, and sin, and human props, and earthly refuges and confidences — and fixing the eye of unwavering and unflinching faith on a reigning Savior! Ah, how a real quickening sight of Christ — dispels all guilty fears! "Take courage! It is I — do not be afraid!"

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John MacDuff, "The Words of Jesus")

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!" Matthew 5:8

Here is Heaven! This promise of Jesus represents the future state of the glorified to consist not in locality — but in character; the essence of its bliss is the full vision and fruition of God! Our attention is called away from all vague and indefinite theories about the circumstantials of future happiness. The one grand object of contemplation, the "glory which excels" — is the sight of God Himself! The one grand practical lesson enforced on His people, is the cultivation of that purity of heart, without which none could see, or (even could we suppose it possible to be admitted to see Him) none could enjoy God!

What will Heaven be — but the entire surrender of the soul to Him, without any bias to evil, without the fear of corruption within, echoing to temptation without; every thought brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; no contrariety to His mind; all in blessed unison with His will! And the whole being, impregnated with holiness:
the intellect — purified and ennobled, consecrating all its powers to His service;
the memory — a holy repository of pure and hallowed recollections;
the affections — without one competing rival, purged from all the dross of earthliness;
the love of God — the one supreme animating passion;
the glory of God — the motive principle interfused through every thought, feeling, and action of the life immortal!
In one word, the heart a clear fountain — no sediment to dim its purity!

Yes, this is Heaven: purity of heart — and "God all in all!" Much, doubtless, there may and will be of a subordinate kind, to intensify the bliss of the redeemed: communion with saints and angels; re-admission into the society of death-divided friends. But all these will fade before the great central glory: "God Himself shall be with them, and be their God! They shall see His face!"

Believers have been aptly called 'sunflowers' — turning their faces as the sunflower, towards the Sun of Righteousness; and hanging their leaves in sadness and sorrow — when that Sun is away. It will be in Heaven, that the emblem is complete. There, every flower in the heavenly garden will be turned God-wards, bathing its tints of loveliness in the all-excelling glory of God! Reader, may it be yours, to know all the marvels contained in these few glowing words, "We shall be like Him — for we shall see Him as He is!" "I shall be satisfied — when I awake with Your likeness!"

"And every man who has this hope in Him — purifies himself, even as He is pure."

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John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"Satan has desired to have you — that he may sift you as wheat.
 But I have prayed for you — that your faith may not fail." Luke 22:31, 32

What a scene does this unfold!
Satan tempting — Jesus praying!
Satan sifting — Jesus pleading!
"The strong man assailing" — "the stronger than the strong" beating him back!

Believer! here is the past history and present secret of your safety in the midst of temptation! An interceding Savior was at your side, saying to every threatening wave, "Thus far shall you go — and no farther!" God often permits His people to be on the very verge of the precipice, to remind them of their own weakness; but never farther than the brink! The restraining hand and grace of Omnipotence is ready to rescue them, "Although he stumbles — yet he shall not be utterly cast down." And why? "For the Lord upholds him with His right hand!"

The wolf may be prowling for his prey; but what can he do, when the almighty Shepherd is always there, tending with the watchful eye that "neither slumbers nor sleeps!"

Who cannot subscribe to the testimony, "When my foot slipped, Your mercy, O Lord, held me up!" Who can look back on his past pilgrimage, and fail to see it crowded with Ebenezers, with this inscription: "You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling!" My soul, where would you have been this day — had you not been "kept" by the power of God?

"Hold me up — and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

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John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things — may abound to every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

All-sufficiency in all things!
Believer! Surely you are "thoroughly equipped for every good work!"

Grace is no scanty thing, doled out in pittances!
It is a glorious treasury, which the key of prayer can always unlock — but can never empty!
It is a fountain — full, flowing, ever flowing, over flowing!

Mark these three ALL'S in this precious promise. It is a three-fold link in a golden chain, let down from the throne of grace, by the God of grace. "All grace!" "all-sufficiency!" in "all things!" and these to "abound."

Oh! precious thought! My need cannot impoverish that inexhaustible treasury of grace! Myriads are hourly hanging on it, drawing from it — and yet there is no diminution. Out of that fullness we, too, may all receive, "grace upon grace!"

My soul, do you not love to dwell on that all-abounding grace! Your own insufficiency in everything, met with a divine "all-sufficiency in all things!"
Grace in all circumstances and situations!
Grace in all vicissitudes and changes!
Grace in all the varied phases of the Christian's being!
Grace in sunshine — and in storm!
Grace in health — and in sickness!
Grace in life — and in death!
Grace for the old believer — and the young believer.
Grace for the tried believer, and the weak believer, and the tempted believer.
Grace for duty — and grace in duty.
Grace to carry the joyous cup with a steady hand — and grace to drink the bitter cup with an unmurmuring spirit!
Grace to have prosperity sanctified — and grace to say through tears, "May Your will be done!"

"God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things — may abound to every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

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 (John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")
"As your days — so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25
God does not give grace — until the hour of trial comes. But when it does come — the amount of grace, and the nature of the special grace required — is granted. My soul! do not dwell with painful apprehension on the future. Do not anticipate coming sorrows, or perplex yourself with the grace needed for future emergencies. Tomorrow will bring its promised grace — along with tomorrow's trials.
God, wishing to keep His people humble, and dependent on Himself — does not give a stock of grace. He metes it out for every day's exigencies, that they may be constantly traveling between . . .
   their own emptiness — and Christ's fullness;
   their own weakness — and Christ's strength.
But when the exigency comes, you may safely trust an Almighty arm to bear you through!
Is there now some "thorn in the flesh" sent to lacerate you? You may have been entreating the Lord for its removal. Your prayer has, doubtless, been heard and answered; but not in the way, perhaps, either expected or desired by you. The "thorn" may still be left to goad, the trial may still be left to buffet; but "more grace" has been given to endure them! Oh! how often have His people thus been led to glory in their infirmities, and triumph in their afflictions — seeing that the power of Christ rests more abundantly upon them! The strength which the hour of trial brings — often makes the Christian a wonder to himself!

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John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten!" Revelation 3:19

Sorrowing Believer! what could you wish more than this? Your furnace is severe; but divine love is the fuel that feeds its flames! Its every spark is love! It is kindled by your heavenly Father's hand — and designed as a pledge of His special love.

How many of His dear children has He so rebuked and chastened; and all, all for one reason, "I love them!" The myriads in glory have passed through these same furnace-fires — there they were chosen — there they were purified, sanctified, and made "vessels fit for the Master's use;" the dross and the alloy purged — that the pure metal might remain.

And are you to claim exemption from the same discipline? Are you to think it strange concerning these same fiery trials that may be purifying you? Rather exult in them — as your adoption privilege! Do not envy those who are strangers to the refining flames — who are "without chastisement."

You should surely rather have the severest discipline — with the Father's love; than the fullest earthly cup — without the Father's smile. Oh! for grace to say, when the furnace is hottest, and the rod sorest, "Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure!"

And what, after all, is the severest of your chastisements, in comparison with what your sins have deserved? Do you murmur under a Father's correcting love? What would it have been to have stood the wrath of an un-propitiated Judge, and that, too, forever? Surely, in the light of eternity, the heaviest pang of earth — is indeed "a light affliction!"

"When He has tried me — I shall come forth as gold!" Job 23:10

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Oh! what a pillow on which to rest your aching head!

John MacDuff)

"If need be!" 1 Peter 1:6

Three gracious words!

Not one of all my tears has been shed for nothing! Not one stroke of the rod has been unneeded — or might have been spared! Your heavenly Father loves you too much, and too tenderly — to bestow harsher correction than your case requires!

Is it loss of health — or loss of wealth — or loss of beloved friends? Be still! there was a needs be! We are no competent judges of what that "needs be" is; often through aching hearts we are forced to exclaim, "Your judgments are a great mystery!" But God here pledges Himself, that there will not be one unnecessary thorn in the believer's crown of suffering. No burden too heavy will be laid on him; and no sacrifice too great will be exacted from him. God will "temper the wind — to the shorn lamb."

Whenever the "need be" has accomplished its end — then the rod is removed, the chastisement suspended, and the furnace quenched!

"If need be!" Oh! what a pillow on which to rest your aching head — that there is not one drop in all your bitter cup — but what a God of love saw to be absolutely necessary!

Do not too curiously be prying into the "WHY it is?" or "HOW it is?" But be satisfied that "SO it is," and, therefore, that all must be well!

Trust His loving heart — even though you cannot trace His mysterious hand!

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Fate, accident, chance — or SOVEREIGNTY?

John MacDuff, "The Thoughts of God")

"I form the light — and create darkness; I make peace — and create evil! I the LORD do all these things!" Isaiah 45:7

What a sad world this would be — were it governed by Fate! Were its blended lights and shadows, its joys and sorrows — the result of capricious accident — or blind and wayward chance! How blessed to think that each separate occurrence which befalls me — is the fulfillment of God's own immutable purpose!

Is it the material world? It is He . . .
  who "forms the light — and creates darkness;"
  who appoints the sun and moon for their seasons;
  who gives to the sea its decree;
  who watches the sparrow in its fall;
  who tends the lily in the field; and
  who paints the tiniest flower that blossoms in the meadow.

Is it the moral world? All events are predetermined and prearranged by Him! "
I make peace — and create evil!" Both prosperity and adversity are His appointment. The Lord who of old prepared Jonah's shade-plant, also prepared the worm! He gives — and He takes away. He molds every tear! He "puts them into His bottle." He knows them all, counts them all, treasures them all. Not one of them falls unbidden — unnoted.

"The lot is cast into the lap — but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." Over every occurrence in nature and in providence, He writes, "I the Lord do all these things!" True, His thoughts are often mysterious, and His ways are past finding out. We are led at times, amid the bewildering mazes of His providential dealings, to exclaim, "O Lord, how great are Your works, and Your thoughts are very deep!" Be it ours to defer our verdict — until their full development.

We cannot envision the thoughts and intents of the architect or engineer in the first clearing of the ground for the foundation of some gigantic structure. The uninitiated eye can discover nothing but piles of unshapely rubbish — a chaos of confusion. But gradually, as week by week passes — we see his thoughts molding themselves into visible and substantial shapes of order and beauty. And when the edifice at last stands before us complete, we discern that all which was mystery and confusion at first — was a necessary part and portion of the undertaking.

So is it, at present, regarding the mysterious dealings of God. Often, in vain, do we try to comprehend the purposes of the Almighty Architect, amid the dust and debris of the earthly foundations. Let us wait patiently, until we gaze on the finished structure of eternity.

Oh, blessed assurance — that the loom of our life is in the hands of the Great Designer — that it is He who is interweaving the threads of our existence: the light — and the dark, the acknowledged good — and the apparent evil. The chain of what is erroneously called "destiny," is in His keeping. He knows its every connecting link — He has forged each one on His own anvil!

Man's purposes have failed, and are ever liable to fail — his brightest anticipations may be thwarted; his best-laid schemes may be frustrated.

Life is often a retrospect of crushed hopes — the bright rainbow-hues of morning, passing in its afternoon into damp mist and drizzling rain. "Many are the thoughts in a man's heart," (knowing no fulfillment nor fruition) "but the counsel of the Lord — that shall stand." "From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse My actions!"

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!" Revelation 19:6

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Though you are a worm

John MacDuff, "The Thoughts of God")

"Do not be afraid, worm Jacob; I will help you! says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 41:14

"Worm Jacob!" What weakness, insignificance, unworthiness! Yet it is this helpless, groveling "worm," which occupies the thoughts of God — receives His sympathy, and has the assurance of His almighty aid!

Believer, beaten down it may be, with a great fight of affliction, or trembling under a sense of your unworthiness and guilt — mourning . . .
  the coldness of your faith,
  the lukewarmness of your love,
  the frequency of your backslidings,
  the fitfulness of your best purposes,
  the feebleness of your best services —
your God draws near to you — He remembers that though you are a worm — still you are "worm Jacob," — His own beloved, covenant one; and He tells you that the thoughts which He thinks towards you, are "thoughts of peace, and not of evil."

Mark His message of comfort, "Do not be afraid!" Mark His promise, "I will help you!" The guarantee which He gives for the fulfillment of that promise, is His own great name; "says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."

"I Myself will help you!" Yes, poor, weak, trembling one, "Jehovah", "your Redeemer", "the Holy One of Israel" — in other words, Omnipotence, Love, and Righteousness, are all embarked on your side, and pledged for your salvation!

He loves to draw near to His people in the extremity of their weakness. "He will not break the bruised reed; He will not quench the smoking flax." Man would do so. Man would often crush the writhing worm under his feet — bid the trembling penitent away; but He whose thoughts are not as our thoughts, says, "Neither do I condemn you!"

Be it mine to go in the strength of the Lord God. "I will help you!" is enough for all the emergencies of the present; and all the contingencies of an untried, and, it may be, a dark future. "But happy are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God."

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A beautiful harlot sitting in her chariot

(Thomas Brooks, "Apples of Gold" 1660)

"I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with
pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved
to be meaningless. "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And
what does pleasure accomplish?" Ecclesiastes 2:1-2.

Solomon's question bids a challenge to all the masters
of mirth
, to produce any one satisfactory fruit which it
affords, if they could.

The hearts of young men usually are much given up
to pleasure. Sensual pleasures are only seeming and
apparent pleasures — but the pains which attend them
are true and real. He who delights in sensual pleasures,
shall find his greatest pleasures become his bitterest
pains. Pleasures pass away as soon as they have
wearied out the body, and leave it as a bunch of
grapes whose juice has been pressed out.

Xerxes, being weary of all pleasures, promised rewards
to the inventors of new pleasures, which being invented,
he nevertheless remained unsatisfied.

As a bee flies from flower to flower and is not satisfied,
and as a sick man moves from one bed to another for
ease, and finds none; so men given up to sensual pleasures
go from one pleasure to another, but can find no contentment,
no satisfaction in their pleasures. "Everything is so weary
and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never
satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content!"
Ecclesiastes 1:8.

There is a curse of unsatisfiableness, which lies upon the
creature. Honors cannot satisfy the ambitious man, nor riches
the covetous man, nor pleasures the voluptuous man. Man
cannot take off the weariness of one pleasure, by engaging in
another pleasure.

Pleasures seem solid in their pursuit; but are mere
clouds in the enjoyment.

Pleasure is a beautiful harlot sitting in her chariot
The four wheels are pride, gluttony, lust and foolishness.
The two horses are prosperity and abundance.
The two drivers are idleness and security.
Her attendants and followers are guilt, grief, shame,
    and often death and damnation!

Many great men, and many strong men, and many
men, and many hopeful men, and many young
men — have come to their damnation by her; but never
any enjoyed full satisfaction and contentment in her.

Ah! Avoid this harlot — 'pleasure', and come not near
the door of her house!

Augustine, before his conversion, could not live without
those pleasures which he much delighted in. But after
his nature was changed, and his heart graciously turned
to the Lord, he said, "Oh! how sweet it is — to be without
those sweet delights!"

And as for lawful pleasures, let me only say this — it is
your wisdom only to touch them, to taste them, and to
use them as you use medicines — to occasionally fortify
yourselves against maladies.

There are no pleasures so delighting, so satisfying, so
ravishing, so engaging, and so abiding — as those which
spring from union and communion with God — as those
which flow from a from a humble and holy walking
with God.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The thorn is still left to pierce and lacerate!

John MacDuff, "The Thoughts of God")

"My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

The apostle's thoughts were desponding ones — when his God whispered in his ear this precious thought of comfort. A thorn in the flesh — a messenger from Satan — had been sent to buffet him! We know not what this thorn may have been. God purposely leaves it unidentified, that each may make an individual application to his own particular case and circumstances.

But who, in their diversified and chequered experience, has not to tell of some similar trial? Some dead fly in life's otherwise fragrant ointment — some sorrow which casts a softened shadow over perhaps an otherwise sunny path:
  infirm health;
  worldly loss;
  domestic problems;
  family bereavement;
  the discharge of arduous and painful duty;
  the treachery of tried and trusted friends;
  the sting of wounded pride or disappointed ambition;
  the fierce struggle with inward corruption and un-mortified sin;
  the scorpion-dart of a violated and accusing conscience!

As the apostle earnestly entreated that his thorn might be taken away — so may you, reader, also have prayed fervently and long — that your trial might be averted, your sorrow mitigated, if not removed! You doubtless imagine that it would be far better — were this messenger of Satan, this spirit of evil, exorcized and cast out! But here again, God's thoughts are often not our thoughts!

What was the answer to the apostle's earnest petition, when he pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away? It was not granting the removal of the trial — but it was better! It was the promise of grace to bear it. "And He said unto me: My grace is sufficient for you!"

It was enough; he asked no more. He may have demurred at first to the strange answer — so unlike what he expected, so unlike what he wished. But he was led before long, not only joyfully to acquiesce — but heartily to own and acknowledge the higher and better wisdom of the Divine procedure, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me!"

This, too, may be God's dealings with you. Often and again, it may be — you have taken your hidden sorrow — the burdening secret of your heart — laid it on the mercy-seat, and with importunate tears implored that it might be taken away! Yet the sorrow still remains! But, nevertheless, remember: the prayer is not unanswered. It has been answered — not perhaps according to your thoughts or desires — but according to the better thoughts and purposes of your heavenly Father!

The thorn is still left to pierce and lacerate — but strength has been given to bear it! The trial, be what it may, has taught you, as it did Paul — the lesson of your own weakness, and your dependence on Divine aid. It has been a needful drag on your chariot wheels — a needful clipping of your wings — lest, like the great apostle, "you should be exalted above measure." Who can complain of the heaviest of sorrows — if they have thus been the means alike of revealing to us our own weakness — and of endearing to us the all-sufficient grace of a Savior God?

Blessed, comforting assurance: that God will deal out the requisite grace — in all time of our need. Seated by us like a kind physician, with His hand on our pulse — He will watch our weakness, and accommodate the divine supply — to our several needs and circumstances. He will not allow the thorn to pierce too far! "As your day — so shall your strength be." "Grace sufficient" will be given — sufficient for every emergency. His everlasting arms are ever lower than our troubles!

"Do not be afraid — for I am with you. Do not be dismayed — for I am your God! I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with My victorious right hand!"

~  ~  ~  ~  ~


(John MacDuff, "

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go; I will guide you with My eye." Psalm 32:8
No more precious assurance can I have, than this: that I am under the constant, loving guidance of my heavenly Father — that He appoints the bounds of my habitation, and overrules all events for my good — that my whole life is a plan arranged by Him! Every apparent little contingency, as well as every momentous turn and crisis-hour — forms part of that plan! "A man's heart devises his way — but the Lord directs his steps."

"I will instruct you and teach you." How patiently does this almighty Preceptor train, and with what infinite wisdom and tenderness does He adapt His varied teachings to the needs and requirements of His people! It is "line upon line;" or if need be — cross upon cross, trial upon trial. Or it may be that startling providences are no longer required — the gentle indications of His will are enough, "I will guide you with My eye." The earthquake — the hurricane — the wind — the fire, may now have fulfilled their mission. "The still, small voice" is now sufficient.

And HOW does He promise to teach and to guide? Not in the way that we would like to go — not in the way of our own choosing — but "the way which you shall go." Often we would decide on pursuing the sunny highway. But God says, 'the rough mountain-track is best for you!' Often we would, like Israel, take the near and smooth road to Canaan. But God's pillar-cloud decides otherwise, and takes us by a circuitous route "by the way of the wilderness." Often we would prefer, like the disciples at sea of Tiberias, the safe path by the seashore, so as to avoid the gathering storm, "for the wind is contrary." But God says, "No!" He constrains us to get into the boat!

"He led them by the right path — to go to a city where they could live!" It is not for us to question His plans. He led His people of old — He leads them still — by the right path. There is a day coming — when we shall own the wisdom of every earthly lesson, the "needs-be" of every wave in the troubled sea!

The gardener has occasionally to subject his plants to apparently rough treatment — cutting, lopping, mutilating; reducing them to unsightly shapes — before they burst into flower. Summer, however, before long, vindicates the wisdom of his treatment, in its clusters of varied fragrance and beauty. So also, at times, does our heavenly Gardener see fit to use His pruning-knife! But be assured that there is not one superfluous or redundant lopping. We shall understand and acknowledge an infinitely wise necessity for all — when the plant has unfolded itself into the full flower, bathed in the tints and diffusing the fragrance of Heaven.

Believer, go up and on your way — rejoicing in the teaching and guidance of unerring Wisdom! "I will guide you with My eye." The sleepless eye of Israel's un-slumbering Shepherd is upon you by day and by night — in sickness and in health — in joy and in sorrow — in life and in death!

"The Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love."

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The believer's eternal confession!

John MacDuff, "The Night Watches")

"By the Grace of God — I am what I am!"
1 Corinthians 15:10

This is the believer's eternal confession!

Grace found him a rebel against God — it leaves him a son of God!

Grace found him wandering at the gates of Hell — it leaves him at the gates of Heaven!

Grace devised the scheme of Redemption. Justice never would; Reason never could. And it is Grace which carries out that scheme. No sinner would ever have sought God — but "by grace." The thickets of Eden would have proved Adam's grave — had not grace called him out! Saul would have lived and died the haughty self-righteous persecutor — had not grace laid him low! The thief on the cross would have continued breathing out his blasphemies — had not grace arrested his tongue and tuned it for glory! "Out of the knottiest timber," says Rutherford, "God can make vessels of mercy for service in the high palace of glory!"

"I came, I saw, I conquered!" may be inscribed by the Savior on every monument of His grace. "I came to the sinner; I looked upon him; and with a look of omnipotent love — I conquered him!"

Believer, you would have been this day a wandering star, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever! You would have been Christless, hopeless, and portionless; had not grace constrained you! And it is grace which, at this moment, "keeps" you. You have often been a Peter — forsaking your Lord — but brought back to Him again. Why have you not been a Demas or a Judas? "I have prayed for you — that your faith fail not!" Is not this your own comment and reflection on life's retrospect: "Yet not I — but the grace of God which was with me!"

Seek to realize your dependence on this grace every moment.

"More grace! more grace!" needs to be your continual cry.

His infinite supply — is commensurate with your infinite need.

The treasury of grace, though always emptying — is always full.

The key of prayer which opens it — is always at hand!

And the Almighty Bestower of the blessings of grace — is always "waiting to be gracious."

The recorded promise can never be cancelled or reversed: "My grace is sufficient for you."

The grace of God is the source of lesser temporal blessings — as well as of higher spiritual blessings. Grace accounts for the crumb of daily bread — as well as for the crown of eternal glory! But even in regard to earthly mercies, never forget the CHANNEL of grace: "through Christ Jesus!" It is sweet thus to connect every blessing, even the smallest and humblest token of providential bounty — with Calvary's cross — to have the common blessings of life stamped with "the print of the nails!" It makes them doubly precious to think, "All this flows from Jesus!"

"By the Grace of God — I am what I am!" Reader! seek to dwell much on this inexhaustible theme!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A sure and safe anchorage amid the world's heaving ocean of vicissitude!

John MacDuff, "The Night Watches")

"But You are the same — and Your years will never end!" Psalm 102:27

What a fountain of comfort is to be found in the Immutability of God! Not one ripple can disturb the calm of His unchanging nature. Were it so, He would no longer be a perfect Being — He would un-deify Himself — He would cease to be God!

Change is our portion here on earth. "They shall perish!" is the brief chronicle regarding everything on this side Heaven. The skies above us, the earth beneath us, the elements around us shall be destroyed. "All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved, and the sky rolled up like a scroll! The stars will fall from the sky like withered leaves from a grapevine, or shriveled figs from a fig tree!" Isaiah 34:4

Scenes of hallowed endearment — they have fled! Friends who sweetened our pilgrimage with their presence — they are gone! But here is a sure and safe anchorage amid the world's heaving ocean of vicissitude: "But You are the same — and Your years will never end!" All is changing — but the Unchanging One!

Oh! thus pillowing your head on the Immutability of God, amid the crude buffetings of a changing world, you will be able to say — until the dawn of the morning breaks on you, which knows neither night nor vicissitude, "I will both lie down and sleep in peace,  for You alone, O Lord, make me live in safety!" Psalm 4:8

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sons! Brethren! Princes! Friends! Heirs! Jewels! My Portion! Mine!

John MacDuff, "The Night Watches")

"And they shall be Mine, says the LORD Almighty, in that day when I make up My jewels!" Malachi 3:17

"MY JEWELS!" Of what favored creatures does Jehovah thus speak? Is it of seraphs? Is it of angels? Methinks, at such a title, even they would take the dust of abasement, and veiling their faces, cry, "Unclean! unclean!" But, marvel of marvels! It is redeemed sinners of the earth — once crude, unshapely stones, lying in "the horrible pit and the miry clay," amid the rubbish of corruption — who are thus sought out by divine grace, purchased by divine love, destined through eternity to be set as jewels in the crown of the eternal God!

"The Lord's portion is His people!" There is a surpassing revelation of love here. Great, unspeakably great, is the privilege of the believer — to be able to look up to the everlasting Jehovah, and say, "You are my portion, O Lord!" But what is this, in comparison with the response of Omnipotence to the child of dust, "You are Mine!" Reader, have you learned to lisp your part in this wondrous interchange of covenant-love, "My beloved is Mine — and I am His!"

What an array of wondrous titles belong to the saints of God, and given, too, by God Himself, in His own Word! He calls them — Sons! Brethren! Princes! Friends! Heirs! Jewels! My Portion! Mine!

And when is the time when they become thus dear to Him? Sinner, when you wept at the cross of Jesus — you became His jewel. No — from eternity past — "He has loved you with an everlasting love!" True, you are not yet set in His crown. You are yet undergoing the process of polishing. Affliction is preparing you; trial is needed to remove all the roughness and blemishes of nature, and make you fit for your Master's use. But, blessed thought! "Now it is God who has made us (literally, chiseled or polished us) for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." Yes, God Himself, the possessor, who prized that earthly jewel so much, as to give in exchange for it Heaven's "Pearl of great price" — He has the polishing in His own hand! He will not deal too rashly or roughly!

A jewel in Immanuel's crown! Not only raised from the ash-heap to be set among princes; but to gem through eternity — the Forehead that for me, was once wreathed with thorns!

Shall I — can I — murmur at any way my Savior sees fit to polish and prepare me for such an honor as this? Let me sink down on my nightly pillow overpowered with the thought; and as I hear my covenant God whispering in my ear the astounding accents, "You are Mine!" I may well reply, "I will both lie down and sleep in peace,  for You alone, O Lord, make me live in safety!" Psalm 4:8

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The joys of that eternal banqueting house!

(John MacDuff, "The Night Watches")

"He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love!" Song of Solomon 2:4

"HE brought me!" All of grace! He justifies! He glorifies! The banqueting house is entered with shoutings, saying, "Grace, grace unto it!"

Believer, contemplate the journey ended, the course finished, the victory won. Seated at the marriage feast of the Lamb in glory, guest talking to guest with bounding hearts — recounting their Lord's dealings on earth — the watchword circulating from tongue to tongue, "He has done all things well!"

Angels and archangels, too, will be participants in that banquet of glory; and bright seraphs, who never knew what it was to have a heart of sin or to shed a tear of sorrow. But, for this reason, there will be one element of joy peculiar to the Redeemed, into which the other unfallen guests cannot enter — the "joy of contrast." How will this present world's "great tribulation" augment the bliss of a world at once sinless and sorrowless! How will earth's woe-worn cheek, and sin-stricken spirit, and tear-dimmed eye — enhance the glories of that perfect state, where there is not that symbol of sadness, nor the solitary trace of one lingering tear-drop!

My soul, seek often to ponder, in the midst of your days of sadness, the joys of that eternal banqueting house! "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!"
One moment at that banquet table,
one crumb of the heavenly manna,
one draught from the river of life —
and all the bitter experiences of the valley of tears will be obliterated and forgotten!

Look upwards even now, and behold your dear Lord preparing for you this glorious "feast of fat things!" "Do not be troubled. There are many rooms in My Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me — where I am!"

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What a pillow on which to rest my aching head!

(John MacDuff, "The Night Watches")

Hallelujah! The Lord God omnipotent reigns!" Revelation 19:6

Believer! what can better support and sustain you amid the trials of your pilgrimage, than the thought that you have an Omnipotent arm to lean upon? The God with whom you have to do — is boundless in His resources! There is no crossing His designs — no thwarting His purposes — no questioning His counsels. His mandate is law! "He speaks — and it is done!" Your need is great. From the humblest crumb of providential goodness, up to the richest blessing of Divine grace — you are hanging from moment to moment, as
a poor pensioner on Jehovah's bounty!

But, fear not! "I am the Almighty God! Finite necessities can never exhaust My infinite fullness!" "
My God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:19

To You, O blessed Jesus! all power has been committed in Heaven and in earth. "ALL power!" He has in His hands the reigns of universal empire! Whatever is the blessing which the poorest, weakest, loneliest, most afflicted of His saints require — if it is really for their good — the "Wonderful Counselor" secures it!

He combines in His adorable Person, all that a sinner requires: a Heart tender enough to love; and a Hand strong enough to save. He is the "Mighty God!" How He delights in the exercise of His omnipotence in behalf of His own people — in ruling over their interests, and overruling their trials for their eternal good!

My enemies are many — their name is Legion:
Satan, the great adversary;
heart traitors — bosom sins;
the world, and the world's trinity: "the lusts of the flesh, and the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life!"
But He who is for me — is greater far than all that can be against me!

Believer, are you in trial, beaten down with a great fight of afflictions — like the disciples, out in a midnight of storm, buffeting a sea of trouble? Fear not! When the tempest has done its work, when the trial has fulfilled its mission — the voice which hushed the waters of old, has only to give forth the omnipotent mandate, "Peace, be still!" and immediately there will be a great calm! The "all power" of Jesus! — what a pillow on which to rest my aching head; disarming all my fears, and inducing thoughts of sweetest comfort, consolation, and joy!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~


John MacDuff, "The Night Watches")

"Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Where shall I flee from Your presence?" Psalm 139:7

The omnipresence of God!
How baffling to any finite comprehension! To think that above us, and around us, and within us — there is Deity — the invisible footprints of an Omniscient, Omnipresent One! "His Eyes are in every place!" On rolling planets — and tiny atoms; on the bright seraph — and the lowly worm; roaming in searching scrutiny through the tracks of immensity — and reading the dark and hidden page of my heart! "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do!"

O God! shall this Your Omnipresence appall me? No! In my seasons of sadness and sorrow and loneliness — when other comforts and comforters have failed — when, it may be, in the darkness and silence of some midnight hour, in vain I have sought repose — how sweet to think, "My God is here! I am not alone. The Omniscient One, to whom the darkness and the light are both alike — is hovering over my sleepless pillow!" O my Unsetting Sun, it cannot be darkness or loneliness or sadness — where You are. There can be no night to the soul which has been cheered with Your glorious radiance!

"Surely, I am with you always!" How precious, blessed Jesus, is this, Your legacy of parting love! Present with each of Your people until the end of time — ever present, omnipresent. The true "Pillar of cloud" by day — and "Pillar of fire" by night, preceding and encamping by us in every step of our wilderness journey. My soul! think of Him at this moment — as present with every member of the family that He has redeemed with His blood! Yes, and as much present with every individual soul, as if He had none other to care for — but as if that one engrossed all His affection and love!

The Great Builder — surveying every stone and pillar of His spiritual temple;
the Great Shepherd — with His eye on every sheep of His fold;
the Great High Priest — marking every tear-drop; noting every sorrow; listening to every prayer; knowing the peculiarities of every case: no number perplexing Him — no variety bewildering Him; able to attend to all, and satisfy all, and answer all — myriads drawing hourly from His Treasury — and yet no diminution of that Treasury — ever emptying, and yet ever filling, and always full!

Jesus! Your perpetual and all-pervading presence turns darkness into day! I am not left un-befriended to weather the storms of life — Your hand is from hour to hour piloting my frail vessel. The omnipresence of God — gracious antidote to every earthly sorrow!

"I have set the Lord always before me!"
Even now, as night is drawing its curtains around me, be this my closing prayer, 'Blessed Savior! abide with me, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent!' Under the shadowing wings of Your presence and love, "I will both lie down and sleep in peace,  for You alone, O Lord, make me live in safety!" Psalm 4:8

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A tender God!

John MacDuff, "The Night Watches")

"He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." Isaiah 40:11

How soothing, in the hour of sorrow, or bereavement, or death — to have the countenance and sympathy of a tender earthly friend. Reader, these words tell you of One nearer, dearer, and tenderer still — the Friend who never fails — a tender God! By how many endearing epithets does Jesus exhibit the tenderness of His relation to His people!
Does a shepherd watch tenderly over his flock? "The Lord is my Shepherd."
Does a father exercise fondest solicitude towards his children? "I will be a Father unto you."
Does a mother's love exceed all other earthly types of affection. "As one whom his mother comforts — so will I comfort you."
Is the 'apple of the eye' (the pupil) the most sensitive part of the most delicate bodily organ? He guards His people "as the apple of His eye!"

When the Shepherd and Guardian of souls finds the redeemed sinner, like a lost sheep, stumbling on the dark mountains — how tenderly He deals with him! There is no look of wrath — no word of upbraiding; in silent love "He lays him on His shoulders rejoicing!"

Reader, are you mourning over the weakness of your faith; the coldness of your love; your manifold spiritual declensions? Fear not! He knows your frame! He will give 'feeble faith' tender dealing. He will "carry" those who are unable to walk, in His arms; and will conduct the burdened ones through a path less rough and rugged than others.

When "the lion" or "the bear" comes, you may trust the true David, the tenderest of Shepherds! Are you suffering from outward trial? Confide in the tenderness of your God's dealings with you. The strokes of His rod are gentle strokes — the needed discipline of a father yearning over his children, at the very moment he is chastising them. The gentlest earthly parent may speak a harsh word at times; it may be needlessly harsh. But not so with God. He may seem, like Joseph to his brethren, to speak roughly; but all the while there is love in His heart!

The 'pruning knife' will not be used unnecessarily — it will never cut too deeply!

The 'furnace' will not burn more fiercely than is absolutely required — a tender God is seated by it, tempering the fury of its flames!

And what, believer, is the secret of all this tenderness? "There is a Man upon the Throne!" Jesus, the God-Man Mediator; combining with the might of Godhead — the tenderness of spotless humanity.

Is your heart crushed with sorrow? So was His!

Are your eyes dimmed with tears? So were His! "Jesus wept!" Bethany's Chief Mourner still wears the Brother's heart in glory. Others may be unable to enter into the depths of your trial — He can — He does!

With such a "tender God" caring for me, providing for me, watching my path by day, and guarding my couch by night, "I will both lie down and sleep in peace,  for You alone, O Lord, make me live in safety!" Psalm 4:8

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A world without night! A heaven without a sun!

John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"And the city has no need of sun or moon — for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light!" Revelation 21:23

"There shall be no night there!" Revelation 21:25

My soul! is it night with you here? Are you wearied with these midnight tossings on life's tumultuous sea? Be still! The day is breaking! Soon shall your Lord appear! That glorious appearing shall disperse every cloud, and usher in an eternal noontide which knows no twilight. "The Lord will be your everlasting light — and your God will be your glory! Your days of sorrow will come to an end!" Everlasting light! Wondrous secret of a nightless world — the glories of a present God!

Strange realities! A world without night! A heaven without a sun! And, greater wonder still, yourself in this world — a joyful citizen of this nightless, sinless, sorrowless, tearless Heaven — basking underneath the Fountain of uncreated light! No exhaustion of glorified body and spirit to require repose; no lassitude or weariness to suspend the ever-deepening song, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain — to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A few more throbbings of this aching heart!

(John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"The days of your mourning shall be ended!" Isaiah 60:20

Christ's people are a weeping band — though there is much in this lovely world to make them joyous and happy. Yet when they think of sin — their own sin, and the unblushing sins of a world in which their God is dishonored — need we wonder at their tears? Are we surprised that they should be called "Mourners," and that their pilgrimage is a "Valley of Tears?" Sickness, bereavement, poverty and death following the track of sin — add to their mourning experience! And with many of God's best beloved children, one tear is scarcely dried — when another is ready to flow!

Mourners! rejoice!

When the reaping time comes — the weeping time ends!

When the white robe and the golden harp are bestowed — every remnant of the sackcloth attire is removed. The moment the pilgrim, whose forehead is here furrowed with woe, bathes it in the crystal river of life — that moment the pangs of a lifetime of sorrow are eternally forgotten!

Reader! if you are one of these careworn ones, take heart — the days of your mourning are numbered! A few more throbbings of this aching heart — and then sorrow, and sighing, and mourning, will be forever past!

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes! There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!" Revelation 21:4

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The grand secret!

(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

"This is real love. It is not that we loved God — but that He loved us and sent His Son as a  sacrifice to take away our sins." 1 John 4:10

Deal much and closely with a crucified Savior! This is the grand secret of a constant ascending of the affections to God. If you find it difficult to comprehend the love of God towards you — then read it in the cross of His dear Son!

Dwell upon this amazing fact,
drink into this precious truth,
muse upon it,
ponder it,
search into it,
pray over it,
until your heart is melted down, and broken, and overwhelmed with God's wondrous love to you, in the gift of Jesus!

Oh, how will this rekindle the flame that is ready to die in your bosom! How it will draw you up in a holy and unreserved surrender of body, soul, and spirit!

Deal much with Jesus!

Whenever you detect . . .
  a waning of love,
  a reluctance to take up the daily cross,
  a shrinking from the precept
 — go immediately to Calvary!

Go simply and directly to Jesus!

Get your heart warmed with ardent love by contemplating Him upon the cross — and soon will the frosts that gather round it melt away, and the congealed current shall begin to flow!

"Who loved me — and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20

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Is it nothing to you?

The death of our Lord Jesus Christ is the most wonderful, astounding, magnificent event in the history of the universe! Nothing that is, has been, or shall hereafter be — can be compared to it. Yet, as He was suffering the wrath of God, bearing the sins of His people, dying as the voluntary Substitute for guilty, hell-deserving, hell-bent sinners, such as we are — we hear the Son of God expressing the most woeful, unexplainable lamentation imaginable. He cried, "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like My suffering that was inflicted on Me, that the Lord brought on Me in the day of His fierce anger?" Lamentations 1:12

When I hear those words falling from the lips of the Son of God, as He hangs upon the cursed tree, I simply cannot avoid asking a question. Of whom does the bleeding Lamb of God speak these words? To whom is the death of Christ meaningless and insignificant?

Nothing in all the universe is more wonderful and magnificent in the eyes of God the Father — than the death of His dear Son!
The angels of heaven ever look into the mystery and wonder of redemption by the blood of Christ with astonishment!
Faithful gospel preachers are so overwhelmed with the wonders of redemption and the glory of the Redeemer — that they never cease to study, glory in, and preach the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Redeemed sinners on the earth cherish nothing, delight in nothing, marvel at nothing — like the death of our Lord Jesus Christ for them!
The ransomed in glory appear to think of nothing and speak of nothing — except the dying love of the Lamb in the midst of the throne! (Revelation 5:9-12).

Yet, there are some to whom our darling Savior speaks as it were, with astonishment, to whom His death is meaningless, insignificant, nothing! Who are these people to whom the sin-atoning death of Christ is nothing?

Our Lord is here addressing Himself to everyone who 'passes by' Him — passes by His death as the sinners' Substitute in unbelief. O unbelieving, Christless soul — it is you to whom the Son of God speaks!

O cold, calculating, heartless, preacher, you who pass by the crucified Christ — and take to your lips the meaningless, insignificant trifles of politics, social corruptions, moralisms, denominationalism, historical religion, creeds, and debates about nothing — it is you to whom the Master speaks!

Christ crucified is mundane, meaningless and insignificant — only to unregenerate, unbelieving souls!

It is my heart's prayer that you will hear these words echoing in your soul — until the death of our Lord Jesus Christ is made to be the most important thing in all the world to you. I pray that we may become totally consumed with the crucified Christ, that our hearts, our lives — every fiber of our souls may be constantly dominated by the death of Christ as our sin-atoning Savior. Let us meditate upon and study the great, sin-atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, until it consumes our every thought!

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God takes away the creature!

Thomas Brooks, "A Believer's Last Day, His Best Day")

Diogenes noted the folly of the men of his time — that they undervalued the best things — but overvalued the worst things. Ah, that this were not the sin and shame of professors in these days!

God sometimes strips His people of their nearest and dearest earthly mercies — that they may the more prize, and the better taste — of spiritual and heavenly mercies!

God takes away uncertain riches — that His people may the more prize certain riches!

God takes away natural strength — that His people may the more prize spiritual strength!

God takes away the creature — that His people may more prize their Savior.

Spiritual and heavenly things can alone satisfy the soul. The language of a godly man is this, "Ah, Lord! the good earthly things which I have from You, though they may refresh me — yet they cannot satisfy me without Yourself!"

"Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail — but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26