"My voice shall You hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto You, and will look up." Psalm 5:3
In compliance with a request frequently, and from various quarters, preferred, that the author would allow selections from some of his published works to appear in the form of Daily Readings, he ventures to offer to the Christian Church the following pages. They have been gleaned- with much care, and with a strict regard to variety, yet consecutiveness, of topic; presenting a spiritual, and occasionally a critical, exposition of each Scripture motto. In the large family of similar productions which have issued from the press, he trusts that his little volume- not quite a stranger to some who will peruse it- may find a humble place. Should it, with the Holy Spirit's blessing, drop occasionally a Christ-endearing, heart-soothing, soul-guiding, word in seasons of daily toil, conflict, or trial, his utmost wish in its publication will be realized.
Robert Hall was wont to define domestic prayer as "that border which keeps the web of my life from unraveling." With equal appropriateness this beautiful remark will apply to morning religion. To begin the day with God is the great secret of walking through the day with God. What a privilege this the moment that "slumber's chain" is broken, and we wake to duty and toil- perchance to temptation and trial- to raise the soul to God, and seek to fill it at this Infinite Fountain of life, love, and bliss, with such thoughts, and feelings, and purposes as will exert a hallowing, soothing, and controlling influence upon the day! Before the secular commences, to begin with the spiritual. Before care insinuates, to preoccupy the mind with peace. Before temptation assails, to fortify the heart with prayer. Before sorrow beclouds, to irradiate the soul with Divine sunshine. What a precious privilege this! A morning without God is the precursor of a uneasy, cloudy, and dark day. It is like a morning around whose eastern horizon thick vapors gather, veiling the ascending sun, and foreshadowing a day of storm. "The first thing I do when I awake in the morning," remarks an aged saint of God, "is to ask the Holy Spirit to take possession of my mind, my imagination, my heart, directing, sanctifying, and controlling my every thought, feeling, and word." (See "Life in Jesus, Memoir of Mrs. Mary Winslow.") What profound spiritual wisdom is there in this conception! What a God-descending, heaven-returning spirit does it betray! How the well of water in the soul springs up! "In the morning will I direct my prayer unto You, and will look up." "Look up!" Ah! here is the true and befitting attitude of the spiritual soul. Looking up for the day's supply of grace to restrain, of power to keep, of wisdom to guide, of patience to suffer, of meekness to endure, of strength to bear, of faith to overcome, of love to obey, and of hope to cheer. Jesus stands at the Treasury of Infinite grace, ready to meet every application, and to supply every need. His fullness is for a poor, needy, asking people. He loves for us to bring the empty vessel. Oh, to have our "morning thoughts" occupied with God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and heaven! Truly this is the border which keeps the web of daily life from unraveling! Dear reader, let your first thought be of God, and your first incense be to Jesus, and your first prayer be to the Holy Spirit, and thus anointed with fresh oil, you will glide serenely and safely through the day, beginning, continuing, and ending it with God.
"Direct, control, suggest, this day, All I design, or do, or say, That all my powers, with all their might, In Your sole glory may unite."
"You have not passed this way heretofore." Joshua 3:4.
How solemn is the reflection that with a new cycle of time commences, with each traveler to Zion, a new and untrodden path! New events in his history will transpire- new scenes in the panorama of life will unfold- new phases of character will develop- new temptations will assail- new duties will devolve- new trials will be experienced- new sorrows will be felt- new friendships will be formed- and new mercies will be bestowed. How truly may it be said of the pilgrim journeying through the wilderness to his eternal home, as he stands upon the threshold of this untried period of his existence, pondering the unknown and uncertain future, "You have not passed this way heretofore!"
Reader! if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you will enter upon a new stage of your journey by a renewed surrender of yourself to the Lord. You will make the cross the starting-point of a fresh setting-out in the heavenly race. Oh, commence this year with a renewed application to the "blood of sprinkling." There is vitality in that blood; and its fresh sprinkling on your conscience will be as a new impartation of spiritual life to your soul. Oh, to begin the year with a broken heart for sin, beneath the cross of Immanuel! looking through that cross to the heart of a loving, forgiving Father. Do not be anxious about the future; all that future God has provided for. "All my times are in Your hands." "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you." Let it be a year of more spiritual advance. "Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward." Forward in the path of duty- forward in the path of suffering- forward in the path of conflict- forward in the path of labor- and forward in the path to eternal rest and glory. Soon will that rest be reached, and that glory appear. This new year may be the jubilant year of your soul- the year of your release. Oh spirit-stirring, ecstatic thought- this year I may be in heaven!
"He knows the way that I take." Job 23:10.
Untried, untrodden, and unknown as your future path may be, it is, each step, mapped, arranged, and provided for in the everlasting and unchangeable covenant of God. To Him who leads us, who accepts us in the Son of His love, who knows the end from the beginning, it is no new, or uncertain, or hidden way. We thank Him that while He wisely and kindly veils all the future from our reach, all that future- its minutest event- is as transparent and visible to Him as the past. Our Shepherd knows the windings along which He skillfully, gently, and safely leads His flock. He has traveled that way Himself, and has left the traces of His presence on the road. And as each follower advances- the new path unfolding at each step- he can exultingly exclaim, "I see the footprint of my Lord; here went my Master, my Leader, my Captain, leaving me an example that I should follow His steps." Oh, it is a thought replete with strong consolation, and well calculated to gird us for the coming year- the Lord knows and has ordained each step of the untrodden path upon which I am about to enter. Another reflection. The infinite forethought, wisdom, and goodness which have marked each line of our new path, have also provided for its every necessity. Each exigency in the history of the new year has been anticipated. Each need will bring its appropriate and adequate supply- each perplexity will have its guidance- each sorrow its comfort- each temptation its shield- each cloud its light. Each affliction will suggest its lesson- each correction will impart its teaching- each mercy will convey its message of love. The promise will be fulfilled to the letter, "As your day, so shall your strength be."
"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Colossians 1:19
All wisdom to guide, all power to uphold, all love to soothe, all grace to support, all tenderness to sympathize, dwells in Christ. Let us, then, gird ourselves to a fresh taking hold of Christ. We must walk through this year not by sight, but by faith- and that faith must deal simply and directly, with Jesus. "Without me you can do nothing." But with His strength made perfect in our weakness, we can do all things. Oh, be this our course and our posture- "coming up from the wilderness leaning on her Beloved." Living in a world of imperfection and change, we must expect nothing perfect, nothing stable, in what we are, in what we do, or in what we enjoy. But amid the dissolving views of the world that "passes away," let us take firm hold of the unchangeableness of God. The wheels may revolve, but the axle on which they turn is immoveable. Such is our covenant God. Events may vary- providences may change- friends may die- feelings may fluctuate- but God in Christ will know "no variableness, neither the shadow of a turning." "Having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end."
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen." 2 Corinthians 13:14.
The doctrine of the Trinity is to the Christian the key of the Bible. The Spirit imparting skill to use it, and the power, when used, it unlocks this divine arcade of mysteries, and throws open every door in the blest sanctuary of truth. But it is in the light of salvation that its fitness and beauty most distinctly appear- salvation in which Jehovah appears so inimitably glorious- so like Himself. The Father's love appears in 'sending' His Son; the Son's love in 'undertaking' the work; the Holy Spirit's love in 'applying' the work. Oh, it is delightful to see how, in working out the mighty problem of man's redemption, the Divine Three were thus deeply engaged. With which of these could we have dispensed? All were needed; and had one been lacking, our salvation would have been incomplete, and we would have been eternally lost. In bringing to glory the church they thus have saved, the sacred Three are solemnly pledged. And in the matter of prayer, how sustaining to faith, and how soothing to the mind, when we can embrace, in our ascending petitions, the blessed Three in One. "For through Him (the Son) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."
"He that believes (on the Son of God) has the witness in himself." 1 John 5:10.
The Spirit of God breaking, humbling, healing the heart; taking his own truth and transcribing it upon the soul; witnessing, sealing, sanctifying; opening the eye of the soul to the holiness of God's law- to its own moral guilt, poverty, helplessness, and deep need of Christ's blood and righteousness, thus leading it to rest on Him as on an all-sufficient Savior; thus producing "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit"- this is the truth experienced- this is the religion of the heart; and all other religion, beautiful as may be its theory, and orthodox as may be its creed, is worth nothing! Without this experience there is no true belief in God's Word. The revelation of God asks not for a faith that will merely endorse its divine credentials; it asks not merely that skepticism will lay aside its doubts, and receive it as a divine verity; it asks, yes, it demands, more than this- it demands a faith that will fully, implicitly, practically receive the momentous and tremendous facts it announces- a faith that brings them home with a realizing power to the soul, and identifies it with them- a faith that believes there is a hell, and seeks to escape it- a faith that believes there is a heaven, and strives to enter it- a faith that credits the doctrine of man's ruin by nature, and that welcomes the doctrine of man's recovery by grace- in a word, a faith that rejects all human dependence, and accepts as its only ground of refuge "the righteousness of Christ, which is unto all, and upon all those who believe." Oh, this is the true faith of the gospel! Do you have it, reader?
"In the world you shall have tribulation." John 16:33.
Could we draw aside, for a moment, the thin veil that separates us from the glorified saints, and inquire the path along which they were conducted by a covenant God to their present enjoyments, how few exceptions, if any, would we find to that declaration of Jehovah- "I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction." All world tell of some peculiar cross; some domestic, relative, or personal trial which attended them every step of their journey; which made the valley they trod, truly, "a valley of tears," and which they only threw off when the spirit, divested of its robe of flesh, fled where sorrow and sighing are forever done away. God's people are a sorrowful people. The first step they take in the divine life is connected with tear's of godly sorrow; and, as they, travel on, sorrow and tears do but trace their steps. They sorrow over the body of sin which they are compelled to carry with them; they sorrow over their perpetual proneness to depart, to backslide, to live below their high and holy calling. They mourn that they mourn so little; they, weep that they weep so little; that over so much indwelling sin, over so many and so great departures, they yet are found so seldom mourning in the posture of one low in the dust before God. In connection with this, there is the sorrow which results from the needed discipline which the correcting hand of the Father who loves them almost daily employs. For, in what light are all their afflictions to be viewed, but as so many correctives, so much discipline employed by their God in covenant, in order to make them "partakers of His holiness." Viewed in any other light, God is dishonored, the Spirit is grieved, and the believer is robbed of the great spiritual blessing for which the trial was sent.
"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." 2 Cor. 9:15.
The Atonement itself precludes all idea of human merit, and, from its very nature, proclaims that it is free. Consider the grandeur of the Atonement- contemplate its costliness: incarnate Deity- perfect obedience- spotless purity- unparalleled grace and love- acute and mysterious sufferings- wondrous death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession of the Savior, all conspire to constitute it the most august sacrifice that could possibly be offered. And shall there be anything in the sinner to merit this sacrifice? Shall God so lower its dignity, underrate its value, and dishonor Himself, as to 'barter' it to the sinner? And if God were so disposed, what is there in the sinner that could purchase it? Where is the equivalent, where the price? "Alas!" is the exclamation of a convinced soul, "I am a spiritual bankrupt; I lost everything in my first parent who fell; I came into the world poor and helpless; and to the sin of my nature I have added actual transgression of the most aggravated character. I have nothing to recommend me to the favor of God; I have no claim upon His mercy; I have no price with which to purchase it; and if redemption is not free, without money and without price, I am undone." The very costliness, then, of the Atonement puts it beyond all price, and stamps it with infinite freeness.
"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Titus 2:14.
There is no victory, over the indwelling power of sin, and there is no pardon for the guilt of sin, but as the soul deals with the blood of Christ. The great end of our dear Lord's death was to destroy the works of the devil. Sin is the great work of Satan. To overcome this, to break its power, subdue its dominion, repair its ruins, and release from its condemnation, the blessed Son of God suffered the ignominious death of the cross. All that bitter agony which He endured- all that mental suffering- the sorrow of His soul in the garden- the sufferings of His body on the cross- all was for sin. See, then, the close and beautiful connection between the death of Christ, and the death of sin. All true sanctification comes through the cross. Reader, seek it there. The cross brought into your soul by the eternal Spirit will be the death of your sins. Go to the cross- oh, go to the cross of Jesus. In simplicity of faith, go. With the strong corruption, go. With the burden of guilt, go, go to the cross. You will find nothing but love there- nothing but welcome there- nothing but purity there. The precious blood of Jesus "cleanses us from all sin." And while you are kept low beneath the cross, your enemy dares not approach you, sin shall not have dominion over you, nor shall Satan, your accuser, condemn you.
"And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord." Luke 22:61.
His Lord's solemn prediction of his sin he seemed quite to have forgotten. But when that look met his eye, it summoned back to memory the faded recollections of the faithful and tender admonitions that had forewarned him of his fall. There is a tendency, in our fallen minds to forget our sinful departures from God. David's threefold backsliding seemed to have been lost in deep oblivion, until the Lord sent His prophet to recall it to his memory. Christ will bring our forgotten departures to view, not to upbraid or to condemn, but to humble us, and to bring us afresh to the blood of sprinkling. The heart searching look from Christ turns over each leaf in the book of memory; and sins and follies, inconsistencies and departures, there inscribed, but long forgotten, are read and re-read, to the deep sin-loathing and self-abasement of our souls. Ah! let a look of forgiving love penetrate your soul, illuminating memory's dark cell, and how many things, and circumstances, and steps in your past life will you recollect to your deepest humiliation before God. And oh! how much do we need thus to be reminded of our admonitions, our warnings, and our falls, that we may in all our future spirit and conduct "walk humbly with God."
"They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13.
We have a right to look for one or more of the moral features of our dear Lord's character in His people. Some resemblance to His image; something that marks the man of God; some lowliness of mind- gentleness of temper- humility of deportment- charity- patience in the endurance of affliction- meekness in the suffering of persecution- forgiveness of injuries- returning good for evil- blessing for cursing- in a word, some portion of "the fruit of the Spirit," which is "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." If one or more of these are not "in us and abound, so that they make us that we shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," and in a resemblance to His likeness, we have great reason to doubt whether we have ever "known the grace of God in truth." That is indeed a melancholy profession in which can be traced nothing that identifies the man with Jesus; nothing in his principles, his motives, his tone of mind, his spirit, his very looks, that reminds one of Christ- that draws the heart to Him, that makes the name of Immanuel fragrant, and that lifts the soul in ardent desires to be like Him too. This is the influence which a believer exerts, who bears about with him a resemblance to his Lord and Master. A holy man is a blessing, go where he may. He is a savor of Christ in every place.
"We have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15.
See Him bearing our sicknesses and our sorrows; more than this, carrying our iniquities and our sins. Think not that your path is a isolated one. The incarnate God has trodden it before you, and He can give you the clear eye of faith to see His footprint in every step. Jesus can say, and He does say to you, "I know your sorrow; I know what that cross is, for I have carried it. You have not a burden that I did not bear, nor a sorrow that I did not feel, nor a pain that I did not endure, nor a path that I did not tread, nor a tear that did not bedew my eye, nor a cloud that did not shade my spirit, before you, and for you. Is it bodily weakness? I once walked forty miles, to carry the living water to a poor sinner at Samaria. Is it the sorrow of bereavement? I wept at the grave of my friend, although I knew that I was about to recall the loved one back again to life. Is it the frailty and the fickleness of human friendship? I stood by and heard my person denied by lips that once spoke kindly to me; lips now renouncing me with an oath that once vowed affection unto death. Is it straitness of circumstance, the galling sense of dependence? I was no stranger to poverty, and was often nourished and sustained by the charity of others. Is it that you are houseless and friendless? So was I. The foxes have their shelter, and the birds their nests; but I, though Lord of all, had nowhere to lay my head; and often day after day passed away, and no soothing accents of friendship fell upon my ear. Is it the burden of sin? Even that I bore in its accumulated and tremendous weight when I hung accursed upon the tree."
"With You is the fountain of life." Psalm 36:9.
Behold, what a fountain of life is God! All intelligences, from the highest angel in heaven to the lowliest creature on earth, drawing every breath of their existence from Him. "In Him we live, and move, and have our being." But He is more than this to the Church. He is the fountain of love, as well as of life. The spirits of "just men made perfect," and the redeemed on earth, satiate their thirsty souls at the overflowing fullness of the Father's love. How much do we need this truth! What stinted views, unjust conceptions, and wrong interpretations have we cherished of Him, simply because we overlook His character as the Fountain of living waters! We "limit the Holy One of Israel." We judge of Him by our poor, narrow conception of things. We think that He is such a one as we ourselves are. We forget, in our approaches, that we are coming to an Infinite Fountain. That the heavier the demand we make upon God, the more we shall receive, and that the oftener we come, the more are we welcome. That we cannot ask too much. That our sin and His dishonor are, that we ask so little. We forget that He is glorified in giving; and that the more grace He metes out to His people, the richer the revenue of praise which He receives in return. How worthy of such an infinite Fountain of love and grace is His "unspeakable gift." It came from a large heart; and the heart that gave Jesus will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly.
And when He (the Comforter) has come, He will reprove (marg. convince) the world of sin." John 16:8.
This is the great office of the Spirit- this is His first work, prior to His bringing the soul to rest on the great sacrifice for sin. Not a step will the soul take to Christ, until that soul has been brought in guilty and condemned by the law of God. And this is the work of the Spirit. "No man," says the excellent Newton, "ever did or ever will feel himself to be a lost, miserable, and hateful sinner, unless he is powerfully and supernaturally convinced by the Spirit of God." And what is the instrument by which the Spirit thus powerfully and supernaturally convinces of sin? We reply, the Law. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ." The law, brought into the conscience by the Holy Spirit; condemns the man, and leads him to condemn himself; it holds up to view the holiness of God- the purity and inflexibility of every precept- contrasts it with the unrighteousness, guilt, and misery, of the sinner, and thus prostrates the soul in the dust, exclaiming in all the lowliness of self-accusation, "the law is holy, just, and good- I am guilty, guilty, guilty." Through this instrument- the law of God- and thus effectually, does the Holy Spirit convince the soul of sin, and lay it low before God.
"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Matthew 6:34.
It is a matter of much practical importance, that you take heed not to anticipate or to forestall the promised grace. For every possible circumstance in which you may be placed, the fullness of Christ and the supplies of the covenant are provided. That provision is only meted out as the occasions for whose history it was provided occur. Beware of creating trouble by ante-dating it. Seen through the mist, the advancing object may appear gigantic in size, and terrific in appearance; and yet the trouble you so much dread may never come; or coming, it will assuredly bring with it the "word spoken in due season." In the case of every child of God, calamity never comes alone; it invariably brings Jesus with it.
"Christ is all, and in all." Colossians 3:11.
Anything, even if it be the blessed production of the Eternal Spirit of God, which takes the place of Christ, which shuts out Christ from the soul, is dangerous. In the great work of salvation, Christ must be everything or nothing; from Him solely, from Him entirely, from Him exclusively, must pardon and justification be drawn. Whatever, then, rises between the soul and Christ- whatever would tend to satisfy the soul in His absence- whatever would take His place in the affections, must be surrendered. Is it as the plucking out of a right eye? It must be yielded. Is it as the cutting off of a right hand? Let it go. Christ in his Godhead, Christ in his humanity, Christ in his great and finished work, Christ in his mediatorial fullness, must be all in all to the believer.
"If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." Psalm 89:30-33
Divine love chastens, because it sees the necessity for the correction. The Lord's love is not a blind affection. It is all-seeing and heart-searching. When has He ever shown Himself blind to the follies of His people? When has His love been ignorant of their sinful departures? Was He blind to the unbelief of Abraham? He chastened him for it. Was He blind to the deception of Jacob? He chastened Him for it. Was He blind to the impatience of Moses? He chastened him for it. Was He blind to the self-applause of Hezekiah? He chastened him for it. Was He blind to the adultery and murder of David? He chastened him for it. Was He blind to the idolatry of Solomon? He chastened him for it. Was He blind to the disobedience of Jonah? He chastened him for it. Was He blind to the self-righteousness of Job? He corrected him for it. Was He blind to the denial of Peter? He rebuked him for it. It is our mercy to know that love marks our iniquity, and that love and not justice, grace and not vengeance, holds the rod and administers the correction. Do you think, O chastened child of the Lord, that your Father would have touched you where your feelings are the acutest, where your anguish is the deepest, had He not seen a real necessity? Had He marked no iniquity, no flaw, no departure, no spot, you would have known what the "kisses of His mouth" were, rather than the strokes of His rod. And yet believe it, for he has declared it, those stripes of His rod are as much the fruit and the expression of His love as are the "kisses of His mouth;" "For whom the Lord loves he chastens."
"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer: and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24.
Remember, the throne of grace is near at hand. You have not to travel far to reach it: no lengthy and painful journey; no wearisome and mortifying pilgrimage. It is near at hand. Lying down or rising up- going out or coming in- in the streets or in the house- in public or in private- in the chamber or in the sanctuary, God is everywhere; and where He is, there is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God. In a moment, in the greatest emergency, you may lift up your heart to the Lord, and in a moment your cry shall be heard, and your request shall be granted. Remember, the throne of grace is everywhere. On the land and on the sea- at home or abroad- in the publicity of business or in the privacy of retirement, "the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry." Wherever a believer goes, he bears about with him the intercession of the Spirit below, and he has the consolation of knowing that he has the intercession of Jesus above.
"Mighty to save." Isaiah 63:1.
Let us glance at the authoritative manner with which He executes His mighty acts of grace. Mark His deportment. Was there anything that betrayed the consciousness of an inferior, the submission of a dependant, the weakness of a mortal, or the imperfection of a sinner? Did not the God shine through the man with majestic awe, when to the leper He said, "I will, be clean;"- to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch forth your hand;"- to the blind man, "Receive your sight;"- to the dead man, "I say unto you, Arise;"- and to the tumultuous waves, "Peace, he still"? Dear reader, are you an experimental believer in Jesus? Then this omnipotent Christ is wedded to your best interests. He is omnipotent to save- omnipotent to protect- omnipotent to deliver- omnipotent to subdue all your iniquities, to make you humble, holy, and obedient. All power resides in Him. "It pleased the Father that in Him"- in Him as the Mediator of His Church- "all fullness should dwell." Not a corruption, but He is omnipotent to subdue it: not a temptation, but He is omnipotent to overcome it: not a foe, but He is omnipotent to conquer it: not a fear, but He is omnipotent to quell it. "All power," is His own consoling language, "all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth."
"We know that we have passed from death unto life." 1 John 3:14
For it is a thing of whose possession the believer may be assured. He can speak of its possession with holy boldness and with humble confidence. The life of God in the soul authenticates itself. It brings with it its own evidence. Is it possible that a believer can be a subject of the quickening grace of the Holy Spirit, and not know it? Possess union with Christ, and not know it? The pardon of sin, and not know it? Communion with God, and not know it? Breathing after holiness, and not know it? Impossible! The life of God in the soul evidences itself by its actings. Are you sensible of your sinfulness? Do you love the atoning blood? Is Jesus precious to your soul? Do you delight in God, and in retirement for communion with Him? Then, for your encouragement we remind you, that these are not the actings of a soul lying in a state of moral death, nor are these the productions of a soil still unregenerate. They proceed from the indwelling life of God, and are the ascendings of that life to God, the Fountain from where it flows. Thus the weakest believer in Jesus may humbly exclaim, "This one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see."
"Partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Colossians. 1:12.
The glorified saints are "the saints in light." No more veilings of the Father's countenance- no more "walking in darkness, having no light,"- no more mourning over Divine desertions, the suspensions of the Father's experienced love- no more tears to dim the eye- no more clouds of unbelief to darken the mind- no more mental despondency to enshroud the spirit; they leave the gloom, and the mist, and the fog, and the darkness of ignorance, error, and pollution behind them, and they flee to the regions of light, to "the inheritance of the saints" of which "the Lamb is the light thereof." But it will be observed, that these glorified saints are said to be "partakers of the inheritance." There is something very emphatic in the word. We are "partakers" of it now, in Christ our Head. In consequence of our union to Christ, the exalted Head of the Church, we are at present "partakers" of this inheritance. We have the first dawnings of it in our soul: the foretaste and the antepast, and, what is best of all, the indwelling of the Spirit, who is the earnest of its possession; and if we have the "earnest" of the inheritance in the possession of the Spirit, we must, and shall assuredly, have the inheritance itself. "Partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." "Partakers" with all the saints of God; "partakers" with the whole family of the elect; "partakers" with all the children of adoption; "partakers" with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; with David, and Solomon, and with all who have gone before us, with all who have entered heaven a little in advance; and "partakers" with all the "ransomed of the Lord," who shall yet "come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads, obtaining joy and gladness, their sorrow and their sighing fleeing away!" Oh, who would not be a "partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light"? Reader, if you are a humble possessor of the inner life, you shall be a happy partaker of this glorious inheritance- the life which is to come.
"This also we wish, even your perfection." 2 Cor. 13:9
Seek larger degrees of grace. Let your standard be the loftiest, and your aim the highest. Place no limit to that which God has not limited. Never cease expecting until He ceases giving. If you are satisfied with your present measure of grace, a worse sign you could not have. To be content with being stationary in the divine life places you in a doubtful position. It is an essential property of grace that it grows. It is the immortal seed of God, and must, from its very nature, germinate. If your faith does not increase, your doubts will increase; and if your grace does not strengthen, your fears will strengthen. Fill the measure with pure wheat, as one has said, and there will be no room for chaff. Aim after elevated principles, if you desire elevated practice. Low principles invariably lead to low practice. Watch against that which tends to impair the vigor of your grace. Watch against your besetting sins- your greatest infirmities- your strongest temptations. Beware of your own heart- beware of self-confidence- beware of creature idolatry- beware of the world. Beware, too, of any neglect of the means of grace. God has appointed His channels of conveyance. Beware that you do not despise any one of them. A neglected sanctuary- a forsaken throne of grace- an unread Bible- will soon bring leanness into your soul. God has as much ordained the means of grace, as He has appointed the grace of the means.
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." 1 Timothy 1:15.
He came into the world to save sinners- and He will save you. His compassion inclines Him to save sinners- His power enables Him to save sinners- His promise binds Him to save sinners. And, oh, how easy is it to be saved when the Holy Spirit draws the heart to Christ! It is not great faith, nor deep experience, nor extensive knowledge that are required. The dimmest eye that ever looked to Christ- the feeblest hand that ever took hold of Christ- the most trembling step that ever traveled to Christ, has in it present salvation- has in it life eternal. The smallest measure of real faith will take the soul to heaven. Yes! there is hope for the trembling penitent. Jesus suffered to the uttermost, therefore He is able to "save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him."
"Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death." Phil. 1:20.
You shall not lack a Christ when most you need Him. He, who has been with you all your earthly pilgrimage, will be with you in its last step. The Shepherd, who has guided you through the wilderness, will not leave you when just emerging from it into the promised land. The Pilot, who has conducted you across the stormy main, will not resign the government just as the vessel enters the haven of rest. The Captain, who has conquered for and conquered in you, will not leave you when on the eve of the final conflict and the certain victory. Oh no! Jesus will be with you to the last. Do not be painfully anxious about a dying hour. Let all your solicitude be how you may best glorify Him in your life- He will glorify Himself in your death. All grace, all strength, all glory is laid up for you against that moment. And when it comes, and not until then, will Jesus unlock the treasury and bring it forth. But oh, to live to Him! To be able to say, "To me to live is Christ." Strive for this. Whatever opposes it, take it to His grace, lay it beneath, yes, fasten it to His cross. Oh! let Christ be everything to you in life, then will He be everything to you in death.
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Hebrews 3:12.
Observe to what cause He traces all departure from God- unbelief. This is the sin which, in another place, he exhorts the Christian to "lay aside," as "the sin which does so easily beset us." What is the easy besetting sin of every child of God? Let any believer testify. Ask him to point to his most subtle, constant, powerful, and dangerous foe. Ask him what has the most easy access to his mind; what most entangles his feet, and so impedes him in the race that is set before him; what has most easily and frequently vanquished him; what has brought most distress to his soul, and dishonor to God- and he will unhesitatingly reply, "My evil heart of unbelief." He may have constitutional infirmities, and be assailed by peculiar temptations, and may yield to "presumptuous sins," and these, in secret and close transaction with God, may cause him deep bitterness and humiliation of soul. But the sin which does so easily and so perpetually beset him is the sin of unbelief, the fruitful cause of all other sin. For as faith is the parent of all holiness, so is unbelief the parent of all unholiness.
"In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren." Hebrews 2:17.
Partaking of our nature, nothing that was human was foreign to Him but the sin that tainted and defaced it. Separate from it all that is fallen, exorcize every evil spirit from the soul, expel every low sentiment from the mind, extirpate every selfish feeling from the heart, and let all that remains of our humanity, be its pure affections, its exquisite sensibilities, its refined feelings, its noble purposes, its lofty, generous, and delicate sentiments of sympathy and love, and you have a perfect portrait of our Lord and Savior. Our Lord, as man, was truly and purely human. Entering Himself into every affinity of our nature, He became intimate with each thought and feeling, with each sentiment and emotion, with each sorrow and pang, with each tear, groan, and sigh of our humanity- all, all were His, but its sin. Nor was it essential to the exquisite and perfect tenderness and sympathy of His nature that He should, like us, be sinful. No, this would have but beclouded, blunted, and impaired all the gentle sensibilities and intellectual perceptions of His human soul, as in us it has woefully done. The human susceptibilities which Jesus possessed were all the deeper, richer, and intenser from the very fact of their perfect purity, their entire sinlessness. How perfect, then, must be His love, how tender His compassion, how exquisite His sympathy, since it flows from a humanity all immaculate as His Godhead!
"My times are in your hand." Psalm 31:15.
Let this precious truth divest your mind of all needless, anxious care for the present or the future. Exercising simple faith in God, "Do not be anxious about anything." Learn to be content with your present lot, with God's dealings with, and His disposal of, you. You are just where His providence has, in its inscrutable but all-wise and righteous decision, placed you. It may be a position painful, irksome, trying, but it is right. Oh, yes! it is right. Only aim to glorify Him in it. Wherever you are placed, God has a work for you to do, a purpose through you to be accomplished, in which He blends your happiness with His glory. And, when you have learned the lessons of His love, He will transfer you to another and a wider sphere, for whose nobler duties and higher responsibilities the present is, perhaps, but disciplining and preparing you. Covet, then, to live a life of daily dependence upon God. Oh, it is a sweet and holy life! It saves from many a desponding feeling, from many a corroding care, from many an anxious thought, from many a sleepless night, from many a tearful eye, and from many an imprudent and sinful scheme. Repairing to the "covenant ordered in all things and sure," you may confide children, friends, calling, yourself, to the Lord's care, in the fullest assurance that all their 'times' and yours are in His hand.
"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins." 1 Corinthians 15:17.
Here was the grand evidence of the perfection and acceptance of His sacrifice. The atoning work of Jesus was in itself perfect and complete. It was all that God demanded, all that the Church required, and all that law and justice asked. Yet there lacked one proof that this work was accepted by God, and was satisfactory to divine justice. On the cross He had uttered that wondrous cry, which sent gladness through all heaven, and dismay through all hell- "It is finished." But, lo, He dies! The Captain of our salvation is conquered! The promised Victor is vanquished! He is laid in the grave! The stone covers Him! The earth imprisons Him! What proof have we now that He was more than mortal? What evidence that He was God? What divine seal is affixed to the great charter of redemption? What pledge have we that it is complete? What security against the law's loud thunder, and the consuming flames of justice- against the wrath of an offended God, and the condemnation that is to come? In a word, how may we know that all the divine perfections are harmonized in our salvation, and that "whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life"? Behold, the Father raises Him from the dead! This is the evidence- this is the seal- this is the pledge- and this is the security. We need even ask no more. It satisfied God; it satisfies us. At that moment all created intelligences were summoned to witness the great and final seal affixed to redemption's perfect work; and while every eye was thus intently bent upon the yielding grave, the Father, in that stupendous act of His power and love, utters His solemn voice, "This is my beloved Son, in whose person I delight, and with whose work I am well satisfied." Oh, what majesty now encircled the rising form of the incarnate God! Never had He appeared so truly a Savior, never so illustrious a Redeemer, and never so perfectly the Mediator and Advocate as now- sealed by God the Father, quickened by God the Spirit, and radiant with the beams of His own divine glory.
"Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Romans 4:25.
Obeying, suffering, and rising as the Representative, the Surety, the Head of His Church, may we not say, that what He did was not so much His own act, as that of the Church in Him? He obeyed not for Himself, nor for Himself did He die and rise again, but for His "body, the Church." His resurrection, therefore, was as much His Church's entire release, discharge, and justification, as it was His own. Then was the glorious sentence of acquittal passed, then transpired the great act of justification. The emerging of the Redeemer from the grave was the emerging of the redeemed from all condemnation. His release from the cold grasp of the destroyer was their release from the iron hand of the law. "He was taken from prison and from judgment," and as He passed out of the court of God's justice, and from the prison-house of death, the Church, purchased with His blood, passed out with Him, legally and fully discharged, exclaiming, as the last barrier yielded and the last fetter broke, "Who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died; yes, rather, who has risen again!" Precious Redeemer! what surpassing glory beams forth from your emptied sepulcher!
"We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." 1 John 3:2.
Who can fully tell of all the Redeemer's glory in heaven? Or, were it fully revealed, what power to grasp, what faculties to comprehend, what eye to behold, and what tongue to describe so lofty a theme and so sublime a spectacle as this? But we shall behold it! We, too, shall be glorified. The mind shall be adjusted to the mightiness of the theme, and the eye shall be strengthened for the dazzling magnificence of the spectacle. With every physical and mental and moral faculty perfectly developed and sanctified, we shall be a glorified Church, placed in the presence, and contemplating through eternity the glory, of a glorified Head. We shall behold the Redeemer's glory. "Shall I see the King in His beauty? What! my eye behold His glory?" Yes! if you see beauty in Jesus now, if your eye beholds glory in Immanuel, feeble and dim though the view may be, so surely shall you be with Him where He is, and shall contemplate the ceaseless unfoldings of His unclouded glory, and that through all eternity.
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3.
The law of love is the law of God's moral government of His people. By this, and by this alone, He rules them. All that is disciplinary in His conduct is resolvable into love. It is by kindness, "loving-kindness," yes, "marvelous loving-kindness," that He wins back their truant hearts, and binds them closer to Himself. "I am the Lord, who exercise loving-kindness." Oh, to imitate Him in this particular!- to be like God in His kindness to the children of men. Then would there be less sitting in the judgment-seat; less readiness to cast the first stone; less harshness and censoriousness in our conduct and spirit towards others; and more of that self-judging, self-condemning, and self-abasement, before the holy, heart-searching, all-seeing Lord God, without which we may be awfully deceived.
"Therefore glorify the Lord in the fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel." Isaiah 24:15
Great is the glory brought to our incarnate God by the sanctified afflictions of His saints. How deep these often are, let many testify; and yet the deeper the affliction, the deeper the glory. Behold the glory brought to God by Daniel in the den of lions; by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace; and by Paul and Silas in the prison. And what is their history but a type of all the afflicted members of God's family? The Lord will be glorified in His people: therefore does He afflict, and try, and chasten them. "The Lord tries the righteous." He has His den, His prison, His furnace. He has His own mode, His appointed way, of proving His work in their hearts; and, whether by the lions' den, or the prison, or the furnace, He is glorified in them. To see how Christ can shut the mouth of the lion, and can temper the devouring flame, and can unbar the doors of the prison-house; how glorious thus appears His power! To mark the resigned will, the subdued spirit, the mute submission, the cheerful acquiescence in the deepest affliction- how glorious thus appears His grace! To behold the daily strength imparted, the precious promises applied, the soothing consolation experienced, how glorious thus appears his love! To see the chaff scattered, and the dross consumed, and the mind brought into perfect harmony with God's will; to say with David, " My soul is even as a weaned child," -how glorious thus appears His wisdom! Oh, if these are the blessings which blossom upon the rod, then welcome the rod! If this is the glory brought to the name of Jesus by a process of sanctified affliction, then welcome the affliction! Only see that He is truly glorified in you by it. See that He is glorified, while you are in the furnace, by your passive graces; see that He is glorified, when you have come forth from the furnace, by your active graces. "When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."