A Basket of Summer
by Susannah Spurgeon (written after the death
of her beloved husband, C. H. Spurgeon)
"Whoever offers praise glorifies Me." Psalm 50:23
"The time of the singing of birds is come," and from
early morning until the sun sets, their sweet notes are a constant reminder
of the duty and delight of thanksgiving. Out of the joy of their hearts they
trill forth their gladness for the sunshine, and the opening flowers, and
the unfolding leaves; and I have heard the same tender song when the rain
has fallen, and cold winds have blown, and dark clouds have swept across the
sky. Many a time have the birds in the garden sung a lesson in my listening
ears, and rebuked my dullness or my unbelief, by their gleeful carolings.
Ah! dear friends, some of us do not praise our God half
enough. We "raise an Ebenezer" now and then; but we pitifully fail to obey
the command. "Rejoice in the Lord always." Yet, how much we have to bless
Him for, and what sweet encouragement is given to our gratitude by His
assurance, "Whoever offers praise glorifies Me!" How often are we told, in
His Word, that He takes delight in our thanksgivings and songs! The praise
we render is dearer to Him than that of angels—for they cannot bless Him for
redeeming love, for pardoned sin, and the blessed hope of resurrection
Oh! is it not to the eternal praise of a covenant-keeping
God, that poor pilgrims, wandering through a wilderness, and having to wage
constant war with the world, the flesh, and the devil, should yet be enabled
to sing gloriously, as they put their enemies to flight, and overcome by the
blood of the Lamb? It is the overcoming ones who learn to praise. The
fingers which can most adroitly use the sword, are the most skillful
in touching the harp. Each time God gives us the victory over sin, we
learn a new song with which to laud and bless His holy Name.
Does it not make your heart leap to know that your Lord
takes pleasure in your praise? In His ears are ever sounding the eternal
symphonies of the universe—that majestic chorus which began "when the
morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy;" but
He turns from these to you, and with infinite tenderness and love, bends to
listen to the grateful songs of His redeemed ones, as they bless Him for all
The feeble notes uttered on earth by a truly thankful and
sanctified heart must, I think, swell into anthems of glorious melody as
they rise to the throne of God!
* * * *
You have heard of the man who made such a notable change
of residence, from "Grumble Corner" to "Thanksgiving Street," that the
result was, his friends scarcely knew him, for—
"His face had lost the look of care,
And the ugly frown it used to wear."
Without presuming that a need exists for any of my dear
readers to remove from their present habitation, it is laid on my heart to
remind them of the joy of thanksgiving, and to say, "O magnify the Lord with
me, and let us exalt His Name together!" What a God-honoring employment it
is, to "offer the sacrifice of praise continually!" We are constantly
praying for one thing or another, often selfishly spending our breath in a
long catalogue of our own needs and desires; but our thanks to our gracious
God are soon told out, and our praises form but a small part of our
This is not as it should be—and not as God would have it.
To enrobe ourselves daily in "the garment of praise," is not only to secure
our own happiness, but to fulfill the blessed service of "glorifying God."
Prayer is good, but praise is better. Praise is—prayer in richest
fruitfulness, prayer in highest spirituality, prayer in nearest approach to
Heaven. Prayer is the language of earth, praise is the native-tongue of the
angels. Gratitude to God is not cultivated in our lips and lives, as it
ought to be. Each moment of mercy should strike a note of praise as it
passes, and then our days would be one long-continued psalm. Praise has
power to lift the soul above all care as if on wings.
Sometimes, when we feel cold and lifeless, and
supplications languish on our tongues, a prelude of praise will awaken the
heart's inmost music, and move it to pour forth its tenderest melody. We are
too prone to take our daily blessings and mercies as rights, instead
of receiving them as undeserved gifts of "free grace and dying love,"
and then returning to our gracious God the full measure of loving gratitude
of which our poor hearts are capable. If, in looking back but a day, we fail
to count the loving-kindnesses with which its minutes have been laden, how
must the retrospect of a lifetime overwhelm us with its weight of
indebtedness to the Lord, and also, alas! with a sense of our guilty
unmindfulness of "all His benefits!"
* * * *
As this is a "personal note", I may be allowed to tell
you that, in my deep and increasing loneliness, I still find sweetest
comfort in praising God for His will concerning my beloved and myself, and
have even been able to thank Him for taking His dear servant from this
sorrowful land of sin and darkness—to the bliss and glory of His eternal
presence. Fixing my heart on the blessed fact that what the Lord does is
right and best, simply because He does it, I feel the anchor hold in the
depths of His love—and no tempest is powerful enough to drive faith's barque
from these moorings. It can outride any storm with anchorage in such a
haven. Many a time, when the weight of my dreadful loss seemed as if it must
crush me, it has been lifted by the remembrance that, in Heaven, my dear one
is now perfectly praising his Lord; and that, if I can sing, too, I shall
even here on earth be joining him in holy service and acceptable worship.
How many of you, dear readers, will be "chief singers"
unto our God, and resolve that, henceforth, His praise shall be continually
in your mouth? Let us, each one, say to the Lord, with good Isaac Watts—
"Long as I live, I'll bless Your Name,
My King, my God of love;
My work and joy shall be the same,
In the bright world above."
Our Great Adversary
"Your adversary the devil." 1 Peter 5:8
The conversation, at our midday meal, turned upon the
dread subject of Satan's rule and reign in the world. Someone remarked on
the significance of the title given to him in the Epistle to the Ephesians,
"the prince of the power of the air," and said that, if Christians could
only know the awful strength and might of their arch-enemy, they would be
more vigilant, more constant in prayer, more unceasingly intent on abiding
in Christ. We spoke softly and with bated breath, as soldiers in ambush
might, who feared to be overheard; and each one had some terrible experience
to relate of the craftiness and malice of "the accuser of the brethren." The
impression made was a solemn one, and did not lightly pass away.
There are many instances in which God's Word recognizes
the power and malignity of the devil; but they are sufficient to prove the
necessity of stern watchfulness against so powerful and insidious
a foe. If we are not ignorant of his devices, it behooves us to be
prepared against his attacks.
Feeling somewhat downcast at the prospect of the
ceaseless war which must be waged, and the constant precautions
which must be taken against the enemy—knowing, moreover, by sad experience,
that the same dreadful power had a too-willing ally within me, and so could
the more easily tempt and deceive my soul—with a cry to God for help, I
turned to the following quotation from Dr. Saphir: "Although we trust in the
power of the death of Jesus to cancel the guilt of sin, we do not exercise a
reliant and appropriating faith in the omnipotence of the living Savior to
deliver us from the bondage of sin and the power of Satan in our daily life.
We forget that Christ works in us mightily, and that, one with Him, we
possess strength sufficient to overcome every temptation."
Here was just the word of gracious strengthening which I
needed, and truly my heart did bless God for it. Yes, Satan is strong; but
my Lord Jesus is stronger than he. The devil may hate me with all the
vehemence of his malicious nature; but "love is strong as death," and the
love of God in Christ is my everlasting safeguard.
How blessed it was to roll this burden upon the Lord, and
feel even this care lifted from my heart by faith in the faithfulness of Him
who cares for me! "In the shadow of His hand has He hid me." I am securely
kept. All the rage of hell cannot reach me there. The united forces of evil,
are unequal to the task of destroying one of the weakest of the Lord's own
sheep. "No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." Blissful
confidence! It sends me on my way singing Toplady's fearless song—
"Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in Heaven."
God's Glory in the Wilderness
"And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke unto the whole
congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the
wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the
cloud." Exodus 16:10.
A friend, writing to me from China, quoted part of this
passage as having brought much comfort and blessing to him in a time of
trial and difficulty. On turning to my Bible, I discovered that the context
indicated that the appearance of the Lord, on that particular occasion, was
rather matter for fear than for joy, for the people had grievously sinned,
and could expect only the just punishment of their offences. But my friend,
being not under the law, but under grace, did rightly, I think, in eating
the honey out of this dead lion. For him, the cloud-enveloped glory
could mean only deliverance, safety, and peace.
But from what an unexpected quarter the glorious vision
came! "They looked toward the wilderness." Not a cheering prospect,
surely! Not a likely spot to which one's eyes would naturally turn for a
revelation of the Divine presence! A solitary place, without habitation, or
fruitfulness, or beauty; a waste and arid land, where the sun smites by day,
and the moon by night; a place where the wild beasts meet, and dragons and
owls dwell in safety. Yet such a desert does God choose, in which to reveal
Himself; and the watcher sees, amid all this desolation and
loneliness, nothing less than "the glory of the Lord."
It is marvelous how full God's Words are, of blessed
possibilities of unfolding and disclosure. However dark and indistinct a
passage may at first sight appear to be, it will glow as with hidden fire
when the Spirit of the Lord breathes upon it, and the eyes of faith and
desire look closely into its depths. You have, doubtless, known the joy of
this insight, dear reader. A text you may have read hundreds of times
without noticing anything special about it, suddenly becomes alive, as it
were, for you, and speaks to your heart, as the very voice of God Himself!
My correspondent had this delightful experience with the
verse we are considering; and do you wonder at it? Cannot you make it your
Look into your past life, and see whether you cannot
recall many times when you "looked toward" some wilderness of trial, or
sorrow, or affliction, which lay directly in your pathway, but without the
expectation of seeing "the glory of the Lord" there. Everything else you
saw—the darkness, and the discomfort, and the danger—and you feared
Yet, has it not been true that, where and when you most
needed Him, your blessed God has come to you; and, before long, your dreary
desert has "blossomed as the rose!"
Then, too, with what infinite compassion for our weakness
does He manifest Himself! His unveiled glory would strike us with blindness;
so He makes it appear "in a cloud." With tenderest condescension, He
deigns to enwrap His splendor in a misty veil of light, that the brightness
of His presence may shine through, and yet not dazzle us.
Do not fear to look toward the wilderness, then, if your
God has put you there; for here are the "goings forth" of the Lord from of
old, and even thus does He give "the light of the knowledge of the glory of
God in the face of Jesus Christ."
A Paradox of Providence
"He brought us out, . . . that He might bring us in."
"Dear Lord, this is a paradox of Your providence, which
both manifests and magnifies the glorious sovereignty of Your grace! Give us
such true and tender trust in You, that Your "dealings" may never perplex or
terrify us; but, rather, be the openings and discoveries of Your covenant
love. Let us learn to read Your ways with us, as a skillful reader
interprets a choice book, seeing the sentences in advance, as it were, and
thus rendering a clear and continuous impression of the author's mind and
The lesson set before us may be, "He has torn, He has
smitten," "He makes sore, He wounds;" and, in our own experience, we may
feel how painful is the truth thus taught. But if the eye of faith can
discern the precious postscripts which follow, "He will heal," "He will bind
us up," "His hands make whole," we are strengthened to endure patiently the
trial which is so sure to end in triumph; and we say, "Ah, Lord! You do but
frown—to make Your smile the sweeter! You do kill— only that You may make
alive! Blessed wounding, gracious suffering, which places us under the great
Physician's love and care!"
"Tis worth the tearing to be tended
By hands so gentle in their touch;
Pains and griefs are sweetly ended;
Can I praise You, Lord, too much?"
"He brought us out." This is another aspect of the same
subject, though, of course, it primarily refers to the deliverance of the
Israelites from their cruel taskmasters. But, sometimes, Egypt is not such a
land of bondage to us—as a country of carnal delights, where
we desire to remain because our affections are entangled, and our hearts are
firmly tethered there—by the cucumber and melon vines of worldliness and
vanity. These quickly close around us, overshadow us with a confusing
dimness, and effectually fetter all spiritual growth and aspiration. We must
be "brought out" of such a sad condition if we are really the Lord's
people—so He cuts loose those clinging tendrils, destroys our gourds, and
leads us into the wilderness, that He may there teach us to serve Him; and,
after a while, "bring us in" to His own land, the Heavenly Canaan.
He must "bring us out" of self, and sin,
and Satan's slavery, before He can "bring us in" to holiness, pardon,
and the liberty with which Christ makes us free. Many a time has the Lord
had to disturb our nest, and "bring us out" of some earthly refuge
which was becoming too easy and too dear to our soul. But, as music sounds
the sweetest when heard across the waters—so do God's dealings make the
purest harmony in our hearts, when they reach us over the waves of
affliction and trial. When a tried and tempted soul stays itself on God, and
sings in the midst of the flood or the fire, such praise must, methinks, be
more glorious and glorifying to Him and His mighty grace, than the
hallelujahs of unfallen angels.
"He brought us out." Mark the tenderness of our
dear Lord and Shepherd; He does not "drive" us either way—"in" or "out." No!
"The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads
them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them,
and his sheep follow him because they know his voice." John 10:3-4. God
grant that this may be true of you and I, dear reader! May we never hesitate
to go where He leads, or think any road too rough or dark—when we hear His
dear voice calling us to come!
And who can imagine what the "bringing in" will be,
by-and-by, when, after all the toils, and pains, and sorrows of the earthly
pilgrimage—we reach the Father's house, and all tears are wiped away, and we
enter on the blessedness which knows no ending!
Those of us, whose dearest and best-beloved have already
"crossed the flood," are often wondering what their inheritance is like, and
what the "eternal weight of glory" means to them; but our loftiest flight of
imagination must fall far short of the glorious reality. Not until the Lord
brings us out of the river of death, and brings us into Emmanuel's
Land—can we know the joy that awaits us there!
I remember hearing of a dear saint of God who, when
dying, was asked if he had any fear. "No," said he, "I have no fear, for
Christ has saved me by His precious blood; but I am conscious of feeling an
absorbing and solemn curiosity—I am impatient to learn the secrets of
Heaven, and to know for myself the things which God has prepared for
those who love Him."
Dear soul, he had not long to wait, for, very quickly,
the gates opened—and he went in!
"The Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing unto
you, because the Lord your God loved you." Deuteronomy 23:5
Here, my soul, in this most sweet assurance, you will
find your Lord's one reason for all His dealings with you, whether tender or
severe. In this earthly pilgrimage, you do meet with so many experiences and
providences that are inexplicable and mysterious, that you are apt to say,
"Why this trial, Lord?" "Why this affliction?" "Why this disappointment of
all my hopes and plans?"
Blessed be the Name of the Lord for such a full and
amazing answer as is this precious verse—to all the questions with which a
doubting heart or a feeble faith can vex me! It must needs be that my finite
mind fails to understand the ways of God; but if I can believe that He
loves me, this is faith's sufficiency.
My heart, until you have learned the lesson of perfect
trust—doubts and misgivings are sure to arise, and cloud your fairest
prospects. The darkness looks impenetrable when you do try to peer
into it—the rough places seem impassable when your weary feet stumble
over the big stones in the pathway—the mountains of difficulty appear
inaccessible when the mists of unbelief veil their true proportions. Truly,
the Lord is a God who hides Himself; and, oftentimes, His purposes are
carried out on our behalf under cover of the thick clouds, in which
He enwraps Himself.
But what a bright star amidst the darkness, what a lamp
unto my feet, and a light unto my path, are the blessed words of this
Divinely-illuminated text, "Because the Lord your God loved you!" It
completely solves all doubts, it wipes away all tears, it is a
remedy for every fear, a refuge from every distress! No
sweeter assurance could fill my trembling heart with joy, no softer
resting-place could be found for a weary, heavy-laden sinner.
To know, of a surety, that all God's dealings with me are
those of a loving Father towards a dear and well-beloved child; to be
absolutely certain that every sorrow conceals a blessing, because He has
appointed it; to look upon pain, and trial, and bitter experiences as the
outcome of a love which is so infinite that I cannot fathom it—this is to
live in "the secret place of the Most High," this is to "abide under the
shadow of the Almighty!"
If we would but meet every affliction, be it small or
great, with a brave confidence in our Lord's mighty love to us, and an
unquenchable faith in His power—our trials would either vanish
altogether, or be transformed into triumphs which would bring honor
to our King!
"Crosses and trials all are right,
And pain is sweet, and troubles light,
When Christ my soul does fill."
"My heart melts within me, Lord, when, by Your Holy
Spirit's aid, I can get even a glimpse of that wonderful love which You have
for me—so undeserving and so vile. It does seem "too good to be true,"
sometimes, that I, notwithstanding all my faults and failings, and despite
all my hardness of heart and guilty indifference, should be the recipient of
such free, unmerited favor! Lord, open my understanding as well as my heart,
that my love may sun itself in Yours, and have a blessed realization of what
Your grace really means to my poor soul!"
* * * *
A present-day writer speaks very forcibly on this subject
in the following words: "The grace of God is the unhindered, wondrous,
boundless love of His heart, poured out upon His people in a countless
variety of ways, without stint or measure—not according to our deserving,
but according to His infinite heart of love! This I cannot understand—so
unfathomable are its heights and depths! God's love is infinitely tender,
and self-sacrificing, and devoted, and patient, and eager to lavish its best
of gifts and blessings upon the objects of His love. Put together all the
tenderest love you know of, the deepest love you have ever felt, and the
strongest love that has ever been poured out upon you--and heap upon it all
the love of all the human hearts in the world, and then multiply it by
infinity--and you will begin, perhaps, to have some faint glimpse of the
love and grace of God towards His people!" "I pray that you, being rooted
and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to
grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know
this love that surpasses knowledge!" Ephesians 3:17-19
"Glorious Lord, such measureless, wonderful love is
indeed incomprehensible; but I ask that Your gracious Spirit may strengthen
the eyes of my mind—that I may see something more of the glory and beauty of
Your rich grace, and that He may enable the hands of my faith to
cling tenaciously to the everlasting consolation which lies in the fact of
Your eternal, unchanging, and covenant love in Christ Jesus! When, in
response to the skeptical suggestions of my own evil heart, or the malicious
insinuations of the enemy of souls, I can confidently say, "All this is
because the Lord loved me," it is evident that faith has quenched the fiery
darts—that I stand upon a rock which no powers of earth or hell can move—I
am hidden in a pavilion, unassailable by the craftiest foe; I have an
overflowing well of joy in my heart which no drought can dry up, and no
impurity can defile."
How different would have been the conditions and
conclusions if my love for You, had depended the comfort of my daily
life, and the security of my soul! Alas, that I should have to say, "My love
to You is unworthy of mention—so cold, so faint, so variable is it." But
Your love to me is an "everlasting love," unchangeable, and full of
tenderness and compassion. Had I a seraph's pen, I might, perchance, be able
to set forth something of what my soul sees of the possibilities of my
"But I fail, and falter forth
Broken words, not half His worth."
The sweet singer who said, "We must die to speak of
Christ," vainly tried to sound the depths of this ocean of grace. He found
it bottomless. Never, until we "see Him as He is," shall we be able "to
grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know
this love that surpasses knowledge!" Ephesians 3:17-19.
Now, my soul, from this time forth, decide to answer all
the whys and wherefores which perplex your life, by the simple
response, "Because the Lord loved me!" This will ensure complete deliverance
from your fears every time you do in faith use it; and your Lord and Master
will be greatly honored by such a casting of yourself upon His word and
promise. Can you imagine a condition more blissful than that of being so
sheltered and surrounded by His love—that no doubt, no fear, no questioning
of His tender purpose can possibly touch you to harm you?
The Shadow of God's Wings
"In the shadow of Your wings will I make my refuge."
What comfort the shadow gives, and what a refuge is thus
That passage had for me a specially personal interest,
for I had chosen it as the motto-text for the anniversary of my beloved's
birthday—June 19; and on that date I wrote thus concerning it—
Today's text is a very precious one to me, for though my
dear one enjoys the full blaze of the light of God's countenance, while I am
only "in the shadow of His wings," yet how blessed is it to rejoice in such
a refuge—"Until the storm of life be past!"
It is very gracious of the Lord to use the homely
illustration of "wings" and "feathers" in His Word, for the comfort of His
people. The most simple, as well as the most sorrowful, can understand the
beauty of it. Many a time have I profitably watched the feathered folk of
the farmyard, and been taught by them that, in every time of trouble, be it
little or great, the safest place in all the world is, "under the wings."
How well the wee chicks know this! When the least thing
alarms them, or the drops of rain come pattering down, then fly quickly to
their mother's wings for shelter and safety, and you can see nothing of them
but a collection of legs, tiptoeing in their eagerness to press very close
to the warm breast which covers them!
Sometimes, I have dared to claim even such an experience!
Not content with the blessed fact that I was hidden "beneath His wings," my
faith nestled up, as it were, to the loving heart which brooded over me, and
found such a glow of everlasting love there, that all outside ills and evils
were as if they were not. Oh, that such times were less rare!
But if any timid, afflicted souls read these few lines,
let me whisper to them to run at once to their God, "when troubles assail,
and dangers affright." We are so safe when "covered with His feathers," so
cared for, and comforted, and welcomed, so defended from everything that
could harm us.
In one place, the text reads, "Hide me beneath the shadow
of Your wings." The hen effectually conceals her brood from any passing
enemy—but God is an impenetrable hiding-place for His people. Surely this is
the meaning of the psalmist when he says, "I will trust in the covert of
Your wings" (Psalm. Lxi. 4).
Is it not a sad wonder that, sometimes, we willfully stay
out in the rain and the storm, facing unknown dangers—when, all the while,
so gracious a shelter is provided and accessible?
The Night Watcher
"I will watch to see what He will say unto me." Habakkuk
A new year's motto-card bears the above text, with the
representation of an armed man standing on the wall of a fortress, in a
posture of intense expectation and watchfulness. With his hand, he uplifts
his visor, that he may the more steadfastly look through the enveloping
darkness; and whether he be waiting for the day to dawn, or looking for the
approach of an enemy, or anticipating the arrival of friends, his whole
attitude is suggestive of patient and expectant watching, of danger
disregarded, and of duty nobly done.
It is not, however, so much to this pictured warrior that
I wish to draw your attention, as to the text he is supposed to illustrate.
Do you notice, dear reader, the singular form of expression here used? "I
will watch to see what He will say unto me." Watch to see what God says!
There lies the strangeness of the prophet's exclamation, for if he had said
he would "wait to hear," we would have found nothing extraordinary in the
But God often spoke by signs to His people in those days,
and Habakkuk was, doubtless, quite accustomed to watch for indications of
His mind and will in all the surroundings of Nature and Providence. "As the
eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters," so did the prophet's
eyes wait upon the Lord his God; and as he stood upon his watch-tower, God
revealed the "goings forth" of the Lord to him, and instructed His servant
by signs and wonders in Heaven, and earth, and sea. Who can read, in the
third chapter of this prophecy, those glorious descriptions of Heavenly
panoramic visions, without being awed and thrilled by their majesty?
* * * *
Those olden days of open vision and prophecy are gone by;
but does not our loving Father, even now, though in gentler fashion,
sometimes speak to His children by what they see, as certainly and truly as
if a voice had reached their outward ears? I think so; and to explain my
thought, I will relate an incident which happened to me, and which forcibly
interpreted to my heart the words of the inspired prophet.
Awaking from a quiet sleep, a little after midnight, I
experienced a curious constraint to leave my warm bed, and draw aside the
curtains of my window. I obeyed the impulse, and was rewarded by a sight,
common enough it may be, but so fraught with spiritual meaning to my soul,
that it will be photographed on my mind while life lasts.
The sky was dark and heavy, not a star was to be seen.
The black mantle of night hung low upon the earth, and seemed ponderous in
its dense obscurity. The lights of distant villages and towns twinkled
feebly, and a deep silence made the darkness more oppressive. But across one
portion of the heavens, the clouds had parted in a long, narrow line, like a
rift or chasm in the mountains of blackness; and along this passage-way the
moon was sailing, a ship of silver passing through a river of light, while
the cloudbanks on either side were luminous with celestial radiance.
So great was the contrast between the general blackness
of the sky and the brilliance of the rifted clouds, that it was as if
Heaven's pearly gates were opened, and through them came streaming the light
of that City which "had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in
it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
Often have I seen grand and glorious sights in cloudland,
when pictures of inexpressible beauty have formed themselves under my
astonished gaze. Alpine peaks, and snows, and glaciers, as apparently real
as the sublime realities, have for a time displayed their magnificent
proportions; and then, gradually melted into lovely green lakes, and purple
hills, and golden sands, and shining rivers; and, sometimes—though far more
rarely—while I have watched the heavens with spellbound eyes, whole cohorts
of angels have passed by on swift wings, or gathered their shining legions
together for fierce battle with the opposing forces of "the prince of the
power of the air."
But this midnight scene was less imaginative, more real,
more spiritual than anything I had before witnessed. It seemed to have God
in it, and the place whereon I stood was holy ground.
The appearance of such pure, unsullied light breaking
through a dark and threatening sky—the strange position of the long,
illuminated pathway across the heavens, and the unusual effulgence of the
clouds lining that pathway—all these presented a vision so sublime and
celestial that my heart was awed and humbled as in the very presence of God,
and my soul said, "Surely this is none other but the house of God, and this
is the gate of Heaven."
For some time I stood gazing at the Heavenly vision,
adoring and admiring, "watching to see what He would say unto me," trying to
spell out the words which Heaven was signaling to earth, and worshiping with
loving reverence the tender Father whose love, and care, and faithfulness
were written in letters of light across that black and threatening sky.
Then, with a solemn feeling of awe upon me, as if I had
almost seen the open gates of the Celestial City, and heard the songs of the
redeemed ones, I crept back to my bed, trembling, but trusting, glad in the
Lord, and rejoicing in my God. The thick curtains of my window shut out both
the light and the darkness, but the glorious vision had done its sweet work
in my heart—I had seen the words by which the Lord comforted and cheered my
soul, and I fell immediately into a peaceful and refreshing sleep.
* * * *
Are any of my readers in such deep trouble that all
around them looks black, and thick, and threatening, as did that notable
midnight sky? Let me beg you to watch to see what He will say unto you. If
you watch with real desire to hear and to obey, you will certainly see the
light of His love parting the densest gloom, and the tokens of His mighty
power appearing to reassure your fainting spirit.
There are no clouds so thick, that they can obscure His
glorious light if He bids it shine; there are no troubles so black and
appalling, that they can fright the soul from beholding the brightness of
His grace and truth when He reveals them; and the feeblest of His children
may always trust Him to fulfill that blessed promise in His Word, "I will
make darkness light before them."
And, oh! how small and light our greatest griefs, and
losses, and afflictions seem, when illumined by the bright beams of the
Glory-land! Away up there, where we are so soon going, there are no clouds,
no darkness, no nights of pain, no days of sorrow; and it is, after all, but
a thin, dark veil which separates us from the "beautiful home on high." Part
of the special message which my soul received, on that night, was that
Heaven was very near, and the gate wide open! The clouds have but to break,
and the call to be given, and straightway my ransomed spirit will—
"Run up with joy the shining way
To embrace my dearest Lord."
So, cheer up your heart, poor, timid child of God—if such
a one be reading my little book! You may not be able to see your way on
earth; but turn your eyes to Heaven, and gaze long and lovingly there. You
do not need to see the path down below, because He has said He will guide
you, and you know the darkness and the light are both alike to Him. Put your
hand in His, and trust Him, for "by His light you shall walk through
Remember, too, that He is watching for you to watch. That
lovely vision in the sky was there when I drew aside the curtains; I know
not how long its glory had been shining, for the dear Lord may have had
hundreds of "watchers by night" to whom He would speak by its glory; but I
do know that, if I had "folded my hands" again to sleep, and failed to go up
to my watch-tower, I would have missed the blessing it brought me. When I
think of this, there comes to my heart the sweetness of the text, "Therefore
will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you," and I would gladly
learn and teach the lesson that we may often lose the manifestations of our
Father's love and care—by simply not looking for them.
Watch, then, and wait, dear reader of mine, "watch to see
what He will say" unto you, and wait with eager anticipation "until the day
breaks, and the shadows flee away," "for the Lord shall be your everlasting
Walking in the Spirit
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the
Spirit." Galatians 5:25
I have heard of some people, who openly boast that their
religion is, and ought to be, confined within the walls of their church, and
that they do not seek or desire to bring it into any connection with their
daily life and its duties or delights. They go to church on the Sabbath
morning, perform various pious genuflexions, hear certain selected words
softly intoned by vested priests, pay a small tribute to the Deity who
perchance may have some influence over their affairs, and whom, therefore,
it is just as well to propitiate with a coin; get it all over as soon as
they can, and then feel free to take their own way, and cram into the rest
of the day, and all the subsequent days of the week, as much of gain and
greed and worldly enjoyment as is possible! The fact itself is not a
novelty, but I think the unblushing boast of it, is a new feature, and a
very significant sign of the times—the God-dishonoring, man-exalting times
in which we live.
There is another class of people, whose spiritual sight
is not so darkened as to lead them to mistake evil for good, as do those
described above, yet who so far imitate them that they fall short of the
high standard of holy living and godliness which assures "a conscience void
of offence toward God and toward men." They are well described in a passage
which I read in one of Mr. Andrew Murray's books: "How much our Christianity
suffers from the fact that it is confined to certain times and places! A
man, who seeks to pray earnestly in the church, or in the closet, spends the
greater part of the week or the day in a spirit entirely at variance with
that in which he prayed. His worship is the work of a fixed place or hour,
not the blessed outcome of his whole spiritual being."
Dear friends, to which of these two classes do you and I
belong? I ask myself the question, and find that, though I may be blameless
on the first count, on the second I must plead "guilty" before God.
Kneeling before the Lord in prayer, in the early
morning—it seems so easy to hate sin, and dwell in Him, that one looks
forward to the day's trials and perplexities, that they can all be overcome.
There is a tenderness of heart, a yielding of the will to God, an eagerness
for communion with Him, and a desire to be well-pleasing in His sight, all
of which are very delightful and precious.
But, alas! when I leave the mercy-seat, and go about my
daily work and service, the most of this fades like a beautiful dream! Too
often, when reviewing a day begun under such sweet auspices, I find, to my
dismay, that God has not been in all my thoughts, sin has crept in unawares,
many things have been said and done contrary to the law of kindness; and, in
the highest spiritual sense, the day has been a sad failure.
The humble, trustful, thankful spirit, which seemed to
characterize the quiet hour with God in the morning, has not been carried
into all the events and experiences of the day; the resolution to "set the
Lord always before me" has been for a while forgotten, and I have allowed
the fogs and glooms of earthly cares, ay, and even the smoke from the altar
of sacrifice and service, to obscure my soul's vision, and hide, for a time
at least, that glorious goal towards which my heart pressed, when I felt
myself to be in the presence of God.
Must you not, my dear readers, many of you, join me in
making the same sorrowful confession? Yet it ought not to be thus. If the
Spirit of God dwells within us, a different state of things is not only
possible, but it is enjoined upon us. If we pray in the Spirit, we must also
walk in the Spirit; and "the exceeding greatness of His power to us who
believe" is more than equal to any strain which our cares or circumstances
can bring to bear upon it.
Surely, could we but realize the close presence of the
Lord Jesus, hour by hour, and minute by minute—Heaven would be begun on
earth. But, sometimes, even work for Him so entirely engrosses thought and
heart, that He himself seems forgotten. Sweet "frames and feelings" vanish
when the burden and heat of the day oppress both soul and body.
Yet I am sure this should not be. Christ says, "Abide in
Me," and He would not tell me to do an impossible thing. "Blessed Jesus, put
forth Your hand, and take Your poor, silly, fluttering dove into the ark of
What a revolution there would be in all our Christian
circles, if each one of us carried into every thought and word and action of
the day the fragrance and freshness of our seasons of sweet communion with
our Master! It is good to talk with God; it is far better to walk
with Him. About the former, we may be self-deceived; but about the
Well, dear friends, we cannot set the world right; we
have not the power to persuade or convince multitudes of their errors of
doctrine or practice; but we can see to it that we ourselves are walking
"worthy of God," and letting our light shine so brightly that all may see
more plainly the pathway to the Celestial City, because we are passing along
"Lord, I desire to live as one
Who bears a blood-bought name,
As one who fears but grieving You,
And knows no other shame.
"As one who daily speaks to You,
And hears Your voice Divine
With depths of tenderness declare,
Beloved, you are Mine!"
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do
what I say?" Luke 6:46
This passage is truly "the burden of the Lord" on my
heart at this time, and I almost unwillingly prepare to examine and meditate
upon it, because I am ashamed to know what cause the Master has to speak
such tenderly reproachful words to me. There will be some, at least, of my
readers who will sympathize with me in this feeling. Shall we, then, go hand
in hand into His presence, bearing "the indignation of the Lord, because we
have sinned against Him," hushing our souls to a solemn silence while we
listen to the grave charge He makes against us?
In what pathetic tones He pleads with us to note the
inconsistency of our words and actions! "Lord, Lord," we say, professing to
be His happy and devoted servants; but, as a matter of fact—do we not
constantly do our own will rather than His? We please ourselves in most of
the matters which should be subject to His approval, and we constantly
comport ourselves, as if no vows of obedience and consecration had ever
passed our lips. Is our time at His disposal and command? Is our
money spent chiefly for His honor and glory, looked upon as absolutely
His, and lent to us only for His service and kingdom? Do we ask the Lord's
counsel over everything which occurs in our daily life?
Of course, there are occasions when, with a start, we
wake up to a sense of our deep responsibility to our Master as His professed
servants; but does our daily, hourly life show that we are striving in
everything to do His commandments, and thus prove our love and loyalty to
Dear friends, my sense of shortcomings, in this respect,
is so painfully strong that I would sincerely write with tears, rather than
with ink, if I could thereby bring you and myself to a practical realization
of our duty to our Master if we have once taken His vows upon us, and called
Him "Lord." I do not wish to judge you; but if, in judging and condemning
myself, you should find your own experience described and repeated in mine,
I earnestly pray that you will receive my words as a message from God to you
personally, and not rest until your sin has been confessed and pardoned.
When I measure myself by the standard of Christian
maturity given by the Lord Jesus in His Word, I feel ashamed to call myself
His follower at all, so far do I lag behind in running the race, so
destitute do I seem of those traits which would prove me to be the Lord's. I
came across the following paragraph in a book I much value; read it
carefully, dear friends, and if your heart does not condemn you, (as mine
does me,) then lift up your voice in thankful praise to God—that His grace
in you has gained so great a victory—
"An ill-tempered Christian, or an anxious Christian, a
discouraged, gloomy Christian, a doubting Christian, a complaining
Christian, a demanding Christian, a selfish Christian, a cruel, hardhearted
Christian, a self-indulgent Christian, a worldly Christian, a Christian with
a sharp tongue or bitter spirit—all these may be very earnest in their work,
and may have honorable places in the Church, but they are not Christlike
Christians; and, no matter how loud their professions may be, they know
nothing of the realities of a devoted, consecrated life."
To be Christlike, is the duty and privilege of every
believer. God's Word distinctly settles that matter when it affirms, "Now if
any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." I ask myself—oh,
will not you do the same—how much of His likeness has been visible in my
conduct during this day? How far have I been from that which my Lord expects
me to be—His representative in this sinful world? If bearing the cross after
Christ is the chief work of the Christian, have I borne it in patience, and
obedience, and full surrender to His will in all things; or have I, as far
as I was able, put it aside, and thought my own thoughts, walked in my own
ways, and done what pleased myself without any reference to Him or
recognition of His right to "reign over me"?
"There are Christians who think they have liberty to do
their own will in a thousand things. They speak very much as they like; they
do very much as they like; they use their property and possessions as they
like; they are their own masters, and they have never dreamed of saying—Jesus,
we forsake all to follow You." May God keep us from the sin and error of
thinking that we can accept Christ as our Savior, and yet practically
deny Him as our Master! How must His loving heart grieve over the
wounds He thus receives in the house of His friends!
* * * *
"O Lord, it is a hard task which I have undertaken, to
try to show to myself and others of Your people, what a low standard of
practical piety has hitherto satisfied us! I am unable to set forth our
shortcomings, to describe the deceitfulness of our hearts, or to repeat the
excuses which the flesh makes as it "lusts against the Spirit," and seeks to
delude the soul into false peace, and an unspiritual contentment. Your hand
alone can do the work; only Your own gracious Spirit can convince us of our
wrongdoing, and set our feet in the right path. O Lord, revive Your work in
us! Help us to cry mightily to You for grace to walk closely with You, that
we may be more conformed to Your blessed image!"
"We know, in our hearts, what You mean by "the things
which I say." They are Your gentle commands—Your loving counsels—Your easy
yoke—Your tender teachings; henceforth, dear Master, may these be the rule
of our life and conduct! Self set aside, Your will paramount; Heaven more
near, and better loved than earth; then, indeed, without a question, we may
call You "Lord," and rejoice in the blessedness of union with You. "He who
says he abides in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked." 1
"He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and
immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them." Mark 1:31
"Blessed Lord Jesus, very many of Your poor, despondent,
downcast children are at this moment holding out their fevered hands to You,
that Your Divine and gracious act, here recorded, may be repeated in their
experience! Your compassions were not exhausted on this case. Your sympathy
did not expend itself in this one effort of love. You are able and willing
now, as then, to work Your miracles of grace and healing on mind as well as
body. Oh, that we could bless You as we ought for Your unfailing mercy!"
The depths of despondency and darkness, to which a soul
may descend even while Your everlasting arms are underneath it—are known
only to You. It may be forced to cry out, with Jonah, "The depth closed me
round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head." A sense of desertion may
even be permitted to oppress the spirit, and Satan will not miss this
opportunity to vex and harass the tried believer. But You, O compassionate
Redeemer, will never forsake a trembling one whose only hope is in You!
Blessed be Your Name, there are no depths deep enough to "separate us from
the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
How often has it been with me as it was with the poor
woman of whom it was written, "She could by no means lift up herself;" and
is not this true of you also, dear reader? The struggle has been long and
wearisome—the result unsuccessful and disappointing. No human power, from
without or from within, can raise a prostrate soul out of the "miry clay"
into which unbelief has dragged it. Our own exertions are of no avail; nay,
they do but sink us more deeply than before, and weaken us to no purpose.
But Your hand, precious Savior, can work prompt
deliverance; it takes You but an instant to accomplish that which has
baffled all our best efforts. It needs a mighty leverage to raise so dead a
weight as a heavy heart—but in Your wounded hand there lies hidden the power
(Habak. 3:4) which created all things, and which the love of Your heart
places freely at the service of a helpless sinner. Touched by the strength
of its sweet uplifting—what a gracious change comes over my heart and life!
No longer bowed down by a sense of guilt and helplessness—no longer the
miserable target for Satan's innuendoes and accusations—no longer weak, and
doubting, and downcast—that touch has wrought a miracle of grace in me. Not
only am I restored, but I can rise and "minister unto others."
Ah! thank God that the joy of uplifting, compensates so
richly for the sorrow of a season of discouragement. The Valley of
Humiliation is not always a barren place; God's "forget-me-nots" are growing
there, and are always to be found by those who know how to search for them;
and the purple tassels of the Amarantus ("love-lies-bleeding") flourish
abundantly in its shady groves. Do not let us dread any sorrow which the
Lord may bring upon us; it is only when, by our own sin or willfulness, we
fall into grief, that we need fear the consequences; for when our Lord casts
us down, or lifts us up, both experiences are blessings—the one in grim
disguise, the other in all the brightness of revealed love and pity.
What a distrustful heart must mine be, dear Lord, when,
after so much mercy in the past, I dare for a moment to doubt the loving
purpose of Your present dispensations! As I think of the unequaled union of
love and power which meet in the person of my Divine Redeemer, I am indeed
ashamed of the unbelief which so often steals away my joys.
It is the beginning of a glad uplifting when we realize
that there is nothing impossible to our God, and that, however low we may be
brought, His saving love is more than equal to the task of reaching and
* * * *
"He took her by the hand."
Do but imagine the thrill of returning health and joy
which swept through that poor woman's frame when the cool, calm hand of the
Savior was laid on her fevered and trembling fingers. "She arose, and
ministered unto them." What a glad alacrity do these simple words express!
Her heart would at once show its gratitude by service; and we can well
believe that the hands, so recently touched by the Lord Jesus, would have
acquired a skill and tenderness hitherto unknown or undeveloped.
There was a healed and happy woman in Capernaum that day;
and the same Lord still waits to be gracious to you, dear reader, and to me.
O downcast soul, be no longer faithless and distressed! One stands beside
you, who knows all your faintness and feebleness; and presently He will
"make all His goodness pass before You," will lift you up, put strength into
you, and so graciously deliver you, that you shall praise and glorify His
dear Name "while life and breath remain."
"The Lord brings low—and lifts up."
A Feast for the Fainting
"I don't want to send them away hungry, or they will
faint along the road." Matthew 15:32
Blessed Master, these compassionate words of Yours, give
us such an assuring glimpse into Your heart of infinite love and grace, that
we thank You for permitting them to be recorded in Your Book! They manifest
You so clearly to our human comprehension, that in them we see, "as in a
glass," the reflection of Your Divine pity and power.
There were some thousands of people, on that mountain
side, who had been with the Lord for three days, receiving His gifts of
healing, teaching, and cleansing; and they were evidently reluctant to leave
Him. Yet the meager provision which, presumably, some had brought with them,
had been consumed; and the Master's great loving heart found it impossible
to dismiss them without food. During the three days, His Divine power had
been in constant manifestation in the miracles which He had wrought; but,
now, His human pity finds expression in His desire to give them something to
eat, that they might not faint on their homeward road.
And, since He was as really human as they were, and even
then was "touched with the feelings of our infirmities," I do not think it
irreverent to imagine that He, too, felt the need of earthly sustenance, and
Himself partook of the bread and fish which He had blessed and broken.
Surely, this tender care of the Lord Jesus for the bodily needs of the
multitudes around Him, should comfort us greatly, and strengthen our faith
in the fact which He unfolded to us when He said, "Your Heavenly Father
knows that you have need of all these things."
I wonder why it is, that we learn so slowly this sweet
lesson of confidence in God, and are sometimes so backward in trusting Him
with the safe management and supply of our temporal necessities. We would
always be as carefree as the birds of the air, and as beautiful as the
lilies of the field—if we depended on Him as absolutely as they do.
And this is also true in spiritual matters. Can
you think, poor longing, hungry hearts—that the Lord Jesus will be less
pitiful to your soul's need than He was to that hungry multitude? Your
hunger is keen for "the bread which came down from Heaven;" your thirst is
unquenchable until "the water of life" touches your lips; you are ready for
the blessing—the spiritual food which so far exceeds the earthly
counterpart; so that you may be quite sure that He is readier still to
It matters not that the source of supply is not visible
to you. "How could we have so much bread in the wilderness," said the
undiscerning disciples, "as to fill so great a multitude?" They forgot, as
we, alas! too often forget, "what manner of man" this is, and what He can
accomplish by the power of His Word. See, dear soul, if you have come to the
Lord hungering and thirsting for His love and pardon, it is not possible
that He should send you away empty. His heart is too tender, His hands are
too full of blessing, His desire to feed and comfort you is too intense, for
there to be any failure on His part in supplying to you all that you crave.
I know there are some who say that they are seeking
Christ, and yet cannot find Him. Dear hearts, do not be angry with me—for I
write for myself as well as for you—when I tell you that, if you are not
fed, it must be because you will not eat! Suppose you had been one of that
favored company on the mountainside, and that you had, at the Lord's
command, sat down with the others; but when one of the disciples brought to
you the basket of food, made ready by the Lord's own hand, and blessed by
His own lips, you had refused to take it, from some foolish whim, or
caprice, or doubt which possessed you, would you have had anyone to blame
but yourself, had you fainted with exhaustion on your return journey over
the hills of Judea to your home?
Ah! None at that wonderful feast were as foolish and
unreasonable as you and I sometimes are, for it is recorded that "they all
ate, and were filled." There, as in the time of the old law given by Moses,
they did "ate before the Lord;" and doubtless it was, to every man, woman,
and child present, the sweetest and most sacred meal they had ever tasted;
and there was no fainting in the way as they traversed the hills and plains,
but rather a strengthening of heart, and a freshness of joy, and a filling
of the mouth with songs of praise, as the result of that wondrous feast.
Now, will not some poor sinful, suffering, starving one
take heart from the teaching of this miracle, and come at once to the
compassionate Savior to have all need supplied? The more hungry you are, the
greater will be your joy in being filled; and He has said, "I will not send
them away hungry." Trust Him, and be abundantly satisfied. My dear husband
once happily said, "He may make us wait to awaken appetite, but He will not
in the end dismiss us unfed." So, let nothing discourage you. Sit on the
ground before Him, as He bids you, until the basket comes round; or, if the
disciples pass you by, venture to His side, and take the blessing straight
from His loving hand. He will never chide you for trusting Him too much!
Unbelievers laugh to scorn our Scriptural confidence in
an Omniscient God, who is also our tender Father. They ridicule the idea
that He watches over us with Divinely parental solicitude, and Himself
appoints and permits every event in our lives. But their derision does not
alter or destroy the blessed fact, nor does it leave the least impression or
disquietude on a believing heart. Yet it does distress us for their own
While these "personal notes" were taking shape in my
mind, and, in the multitude of my thoughts within me, this comfort of God
was delighting my soul, I happened to see a sharp criticism of a popular
author's recent book, in which these words occurred—"brought up in the
belief that Providence concerns itself with the petty details of their
lives, in a manner most intimate and most improving—if chastening is
How my heart ached at the darkness and blindness of a man
who could write like that! He would want none of my pity, I know; but I
could not withhold it, nor could I rest until I had carried the matter
before the Lord in prayer. Of course, I know there are thousands of people
who are like-minded and skeptical; but that only increases my sorrow. To
them, our loving, gracious God is simply "Providence itself;" -nothing more
than a neutral agency, about which they know little, and care less; there is
no personal tenderness—no near relationship—no "cords of a man, and bands of
love," which draw their souls irresistibly into the blessedness of His
loving-kindness and tender mercy. We speak that we do know, and testify that
we have seen. Today, God's children can tell of deliverances as miraculous,
of supplies as unexpected, and of dangers as certainly averted—as any of
those recorded in the chronicles of the Kingdom!
The Sight of Sights
"We want to see Jesus." John 12:21
Most probably, the "certain Greeks" here mentioned, who
expressed the desire to see the Lord, were proselytes to the Jewish faith,
for they had come to Jerusalem "to worship." Perhaps they had heard, in
their own land, of the wonderful Man who claimed to be "the Messiah";
and it may be that some feeling, deeper than that of mere curiosity, stirred
their hearts to seek His presence. However that may be, we make their
request our own this morning, and very earnestly would we plead that a sight
of the Lord Jesus, in His many endearing relations to us, may be vouchsafed
to our waiting souls. "Let me see the King's face," is a prayer that can
never be overlooked or disregarded at the court of the Majesty on High.
What is it to "see" You, blessed Master? We cannot look
upon You with our natural eyes, as these long-ago seekers expected to do;
but if You will open the eyes of our soul, and give us the vision of faith,
we shall spiritually discern You, and behold something of the heavenly
beauty and grace of "Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His
own blood." And even if You will but give to us a partial and half-concealed
view of Yourself, as You did to Your spouse, the Church, when she said, "He
looks forth at the windows, showing Himself through the lattice," yet this
will be inexpressibly precious; for, to see You, is to love You; and to love
You, is to know that You have first loved us; and to know this, is Life
Lord, I would see You as You were when incarnate on this
sin-stricken earth—meek, lowly, suffering, "acquainted with grief," veiling
Your own glory by being made "in fashion as a man," that You might raise
poor fallen men to the high estate of "heirs together" with You in Your
Kingdom. I would see You as You did walk, with weary footstep, along that
sad and gloomy valley of humiliation which ended in the cruel cross, Your
precious death, Your glorious resurrection and ascension; and, as I gaze on
all these wondrous mysteries and revelations of Your love, my faith
overcomes all fear, and I cry out—My Lord, and my God—all this for me!"
Lord, I would see You as You are now, in glory at the
Father's right hand, waiting until "the kingdoms of this world are become
the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and
ever." Until that blessed day shall dawn, You are watching over and
interceding for Your own, comforting, strengthening, delivering them—caring
for every item of their daily experience, keeping them abiding in Yourself,
and preparing them for the inheritance which Your great love has secured to
them through faith in Your Name.
But, Lord, it is here and now that I desire most of all
to see You; Your visits are so precious, Your fellowship most exceeding
sweet. How the shadows flee away at Your approach, and the darkest night is
lightened if You do but appear to me! One glimpse of Your face, one
love-whisper from Your lips, ravishes my heart with a foretaste of Heaven's
Lord, I would see You in all my joys, not only receiving
them as gifts from Your bountiful hand, but feeling that You Yourself share
them with me, thus sanctifying and exalting them; and I would see You in
every sorrow, when only Your voice can comfort, and Your sympathy reach to
the depths of my suffering. I would see You when perplexed and anxious
concerning either heavenly or earthly things, for You are "the wisdom of
God," and I cannot go wrong, or do amiss, so long as I follow closely after
You, and keep Your commandments. I would see You, You blessed One, in Your
wondrous relation to me as my Redeemer, and my Husband! I would often look
upon You as the Purchaser of my soul by Your own precious blood, and realize
that the absolute surrender of myself, and my will, is but the natural
consequence of such an unparalleled sacrifice as Yours!
* * * *
As these are "personal" notes, I may be pardoned for
introducing a personal experience in illustration of my subject. A glimpse
of the Lord Jesus was given me, just lately, under stress of temptation, in
this way. It was a fair and lovely Sabbath morning when I awaked from sleep
much depressed in spirit, and with a sense of coming evil heavy upon me.
Presently, I felt the ominous warnings of an ague-fit, and feared I might
again have to wrestle with the strong agitation which it produces. I had
looked forward to a day of enjoyment and success with my small service for
the Master; but my hopes were at once crushed, as I knew well the weakness
and weariness, the loss of all physical and mental energy, which these
painful attacks leave behind them.
The enemy of souls immediately availed himself of the
opportunity to molest and trouble me. Into my heart he threw wicked doubts
of God's love and care, suggesting cruel and ungrateful thoughts of Him who
is all tenderness and pity to His children. "God doesn't care," he hissed,
"else He would not have permitted this pain and discomfort to come upon you
at the very moment when you were anticipating a joyful day of rest. Is it
likely that He thinks about you, and remembers your need, when He has the
whole universe to support and control? You are very fond of saying, 'God
never makes a mistake;' but are you quite sure there is a God at all? Do not
all things happen by chance; or, at least, according to the ordinary course
Many more cruel and fiery darts he hurled at me; but, in
a few moments, the blessed Spirit revealed the Lord Jesus to me as the
Vanquisher of Satan, and the Deliverer of His people, and I was enabled to
"resist the devil," and set him and his vile insinuations at defiance. I saw
Jesus, by faith, as my faithful, unchangeable Savior, "a very present help
in trouble;" I put my case into His hands, and He rebuked my enemy,
liberated my soul, and caused me to triumph in Him alone.
Oh, to be thus helped and comforted always! It is
possible to those who look, and wait, and watch, for He is infinitely
willing to reveal Himself to the soul which, "like a deer for water-brooks,"
pants after His presence, and thirsts to be refreshed by a draught of His
love and grace. Surely, if we have ever known anything of the joy of seeing
Jesus, we shall not rest content when He is absent, or close our eyes in
willful indifference when He is passing by.
And yet, alas! This is just what we often do, causing Him
to withdraw Himself, or make His visits rare, and thus both grieving Him and
wickedly sinning against our own souls. For, how desolate we are without
Him! There is no real joy, no happiness, no satisfaction to be found except
in Him. My life is as a vine stripped of its fruit, a fire extinguished and
dead, a sky without a star, and a landscape without the sun—if Jesus be not
And if this be really so, what cause have I for deep
thanksgiving and gratitude, for if I missed You not, dear Lord, when You are
gone away, I might well doubt if ever Your presence had been manifested to
me. A soul, once feasted on the dainties of Your love, can never again enjoy
the coarse and unclean fare provided by the world. One thing I know, blessed
Master, I would now sooner starve than feed upon earthly delights; I would
rather always mourn after You, than be content without You; I would choose
to pass my life in seeking and sighing for You, rather than be one of those
poor blind mortals who can say, "There is no beauty in Him that we should
May our eyes be constantly looking up for the sweet
vision, and our prayer be continually, "Lord, that I may receive my sight!"
For, many a time, I doubt not, we might have seen Him but for eyes blurred
with tears of self-pity, or aching with the windblown dust of the world's
pleasures or pains, or dim with the long-cherished doubt and sadness which
becloud our upward glances. Oh, for the day when we shall "see His face"
without a veil between, and gaze unhindered upon the glorious loveliness of
Him who loved us even unto death!
I never look with satisfaction or emotion on any pictured
semblance of the Savior. They all seem so far, far below the ideal which is
in my heart, that they utterly fail to set forth either the grief or the
hidden glory which must have dwelt in His blessed countenance. But this does
not matter, if I see Him by faith. If I "endure as seeing Him who is
invisible," I can then be content to wait until He meets me in the Homeland,
and I see Him as He is!
The Spotless Spouse
"You are so beautiful, My beloved; there is no spot in
you." Solomon's Song 4:7
"Ah!" I hear some timid, trembling believer say, "such a
text can have nothing to do with me! I am the very opposite of all that is
beautiful and spotless. The eyes of my soul have seen hideous sights within,
which I can never forget; and I loathe myself and my sin so much that,
though I believe God has forgiven me for Christ's sake, I feel it impossible
to take those precious words as addressed to one so sinful and imperfect."
Yet, trembling soul, I would bid you take courage, and
look up. Christ's love for His people is marvelously set forth in this Song
of Songs; and if you are a believer in Him, you must be part of that
Church—as much His bride and spouse as the greatest saint, or most renowned
disciple. The Master makes no difference between upper and lower servants in
His household. The same price was paid to redeem the least lamb of
the flock, as for the choicest sheep; the same precious blood was
poured out to ransom the feeblest child of the great family, as for its
strongest and most notable member.
Come, then, timid one, fear not to grasp the truth now
put before you; delay not to rejoice in the blessed fact that you are indeed
precious to the Lord; and when He says, "You are all beautiful, My beloved,"
do not contradict Him by lamenting your blackness; but, rather, adoringly
bow before Him in wonder at the miracle His love has wrought in you. It ill
becomes the bride of Christ to ignore His loveliness, which He has put upon
her, and go about bemoaning the scars and blemishes which His great love
overlooks and forgets.
It is quite true that, in themselves, believers are
sorrowfully imperfect and sinful; but if the Lord Jesus, in His marvelous
mercy, unrobes Himself to cover over their unrighteousness, they may well be
content to be thus made "beautiful" in His sight. Do you ask, "Why should He
do this?" Look at the succeeding words, "My beloved." We cannot comprehend
the mystery and sublimity of Divine love; but it is the sole and
all-sufficient reason for the dear Lord's estimate of us; and when He uses
such endearing language, our hearts melt and are ravished by His
condescension. Even as earthly affection is intensified and nourished by
tender tones and words of special grace, so, (with reverence we say it,)
when our dear Master deigns to address us in accents of love and admiration,
our souls are thrilled with heavenly bliss, and we are uplifted beyond all
the sorrows and vexations of this world, into an atmosphere of unspeakable
spiritual joy! To be "the beloved of the Lord," to "dwell in safety by Him,"
as our Husband and dearest Friend, is so high an attainment, and so glorious
a privilege, that it must forever be a marvel why we are so listless in
seeking it, or so sinfully content without it.
"My beloved," Oh, say it again, dear Master! Let the
music of Your voice touch and vibrate through the deepest chords of my
nature, and awaken sweet responses in my soul! You are the fount and source
of all love; oh, fill me, overwhelm me, plunge me in this sea of mercy and
of grace! I would be swallowed up in it, knowing no other joy or bliss
comparable to that of being able to say, "My Beloved is mine—and I am His."
"There is no spot in you." Can our loving Lord really
mean this, and mean it of you and I, dear reader? He does, indeed, if only
we have believed on His Name to the saving of our soul, and trusted in His
precious blood to wash away all our sin. But is it not a love passing
knowledge which can cause such a statement to be absolute truth? "There is
no spot in you." "Where, then, are all my spots, dear Lord, for they were
legion; and sin must have rendered me vile and loathsome in Your pure
sight?" The reply comes direct from the Lord's own Word: "When I passed by
you, and looked upon you, behold, your time was the time of love. So I
spread the edge of My garment over you and covered your nakedness. I pledged
Myself to you, entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine!"
"Before He saved her, well He knew,
What a heart like her's would do."
All the uncleanness—past, present, and future—all the
deformity and blackness is put aside by love, cleansed away by blood,
covered by Christ's righteousness; and so completely is this done, that God
Himself can find no remnant or stain of that which would have meant eternal
death to an unwashed soul. Oh, the "riches of the glory of this mystery,"
this mighty power which lifts a poor sinner from the depths of sin—to the
heights of heavenly bliss! "What kind of love is this?" It is so Divine and
incomprehensible that, in the contemplation of it, we are lost in wonder and
amazement, and have to cry out, with the disciples of old, "Lord, increase
our faith! "
"There is no spot in you." An old writer says—"Now, if
God sees no spot, why should you be prying after one? Poring over your
misery, searching after your blackness and depravity, will be no help to
you. It is only keeping your eye off Jesus, instead of up unto Jesus. You
cannot look two ways at once. How did the poor serpent-bitten Israelites in
the wilderness get relief and healing? By looking to their sores, their
wounds, their malady? Oh, no! it was by looking to the brazen serpent! And
if you would get relief, it must be by looking to Jesus Christ!"
Now, my poor heart, will you not accept your Lord's own
verdict concerning you, and rejoice in His assurance that you are lovely
with His loveliness which He has put upon you? That HE thinks you to be "all
beautiful" will make you guard against any defilement, and keep aloof from
anything which could sully your purity. That He should say, "My beloved,"
will help you to listen more eagerly for His sweet voice, waiting upon His
lips lest one love-word should be lost. And that He should declare, "There
is no spot in you," will make you so tenderly circumspect that you will be
enabled to "walk worthy of God" and of love so unspeakable and Divine.
Lord Jesus, what a glorious Savior You are! How can Your
bride, Your Church, tell forth her delight in Your beauty? All the sin,
which made her SO black and vile, was laid upon You; yet it only made You
"fairer than the children of men;" and the bearing of that awful burden does
but immeasurably enhance the glory which was Your with the Father before the
world was created. How sorrowful it is that such love should be despised and
rejected by thousands whom it could and would save from eternal death!
The question comes pertinently, "What do you think you of
Christ?" Bless the Lord, if we can make answer, "He is the chief among ten
thousand! Yes, He is altogether lovely!"