"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." 1 Cor. 11:31
Self-condemnation averts God's condemnation. When a penitent sinner truly, humbly, graciously sits in judgment upon himself, the Lord will never sit in judgment upon him. The penitent publican, who stood afar off, wrapped in the spirit of self-condemnation, retired from His presence a justified man. The proud, self-righteous Pharisee, who marched boldly to the altar and justified himself, went forth from God's presence a condemned man. When God sees a penitent sinner arraigning, judging, condemning, loathing himself, He exclaims, "I do not condemn you; go and sin no more." He who judges and condemns himself upon God's footstool shall be acquitted and absolved from God's throne. The Lord give unto us this secret spirit of self-judgment. Such was Job's, when in deep contrition he declared, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Such was David's, when he penitentially confessed, "Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight." Such was Peter's, when he vehemently exclaimed, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Such was Isaiah's, when he plaintively cried, "Woe is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips." Such was the publican's, when he humbly prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Oh lovely posture! Oh sacred spirit of self-abhorrence, of self condemnation! The Holy Spirit works it in the heart, and this stamps it as so precious, so salutary, and so safe. The great day of the Lord will unveil blessings passing all thought, and glories passing all imagination, to the soul who beneath the cross lies prostrate, in the spirit of self-condemnation. The judgment-day of the self-condemning soul is on this side of eternity; while the judgment-day of the self-justifying soul is on the other side of eternity. And oh, how terrible will that judgment be!
"There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 28:24.
The power of human sympathy is amazing, if it leads the heart to Christ. It is paralyzed, if it leads only to ourselves. Oh, how feeble and inadequate are we to administer to a diseased mind, to heal a broken heart, to strengthen the feeble hand, and to confirm the trembling knees! Our mute sympathy, our prayerful silence, is often the best exponent of our affection, and the most effectual expression of our aid. But if, taking the object of our solicitude by the hand, we gently lead him to God- if we conduct him to Jesus, portraying to his view the depth of His love, the perfection of His atoning work, the sufficiency of His grace, His readiness to pardon, and His power to save, the exquisite sensibility of His nature, and thus His perfect sympathy with every human sorrow; we have then most truly and most effectually soothed the sorrow, stanched the wound, and strengthened the hand in God. There is no sympathy- even as there is no love, no gentleness, no tenderness, no patience- like Christ's. Oh how sweet, how encouraging, to know, that in all my afflictions He is afflicted; that in all my temptations He is tempted; that in all my assaults He is assailed; that in all my joys He rejoices- that He weeps when I weep, sighs when I sigh, suffers when I suffer, rejoices when I rejoice. May this truth endear Him to our souls! May it constrain us to unveil our whole heart to Him, in the fullest confidence of the closest, most sacred, and precious friendship. May it urge us to do those things always which are most pleasing in His sight. Beloved, never forget- and let these words linger upon your ear, as the echoes of music that never die- in all your sorrows, in all your trials, in all your needs, in all your assaults, in all your conscious wanderings, in life, in death, and at the day of judgment- you possess a friend that sticks closer than a brother! That friend is- Jesus!
"Do not be deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Galatians 6:7-8
It is a self-evident truth, that there can be no harvest where no seed has been sown. But the fact that there is coming a moral harvest in each individual life- a future reaping of present sowing- is a truth equally demonstrable. The life that now is, is the seed-time of a life that is to come. The future of human destiny derives all its complexion and its form from the present of human character. The spring does not more certainly deepen into summer- nor the summer fade into autumn- nor the autumn pale into winter- nor the winter bloom again into spring, than does our present probation merge into our future destiny, carrying with it its fixed principles, its unchanged habits, and its tremendous account. And what, my dear reader, are you sowing? I wish this question to have all the earnestness and force of a personal appeal. With what seed, again I ask, are you sowing for the future? If you are unconverted, nothing is more true than that you are sowing to the flesh! You may be rigidly moral, deeply intellectual, profoundly learned, exquisitely refined, outwardly religious, generous, and amiable, and yet all the while you are but sowing to the flesh, and not to the Spirit. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and nothing but flesh. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit," it is spiritual and divine, heavenly and holy; and, what is more, it is imperishable. No lowly seed of divine truth, or grace, love, or service, sown in this present life of suffering and toil, shall ever be lost. All other things shall perish- the world with its loveliness and love, the "lust, of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," all shall pass away and vanish; but not one seed of grace implanted in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit shall ever perish. The Divine image once restored to the soul shall never more be obliterated. Nothing done by Jesus, or for Jesus- no sin laid down, no cross taken up, no holiness cultivated, no labor wrought, no service done, no cup of cold water given- nothing, the fruit of love to God and of faith in Jesus Christ, shall ever be lost. Oh, who does not earnestly desire that in his heart and life may be sowing the good incorruptible seed, that shall, though long buried and concealed, yield a golden harvest of future joy, bliss, and glory?
"How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" 1 Cor. 15:35
The identical body that was sown, yet so changed, so spiritualized, so glorified, so immortalized, as to rival in beauty the highest form of spirit, while it shall resemble, in its fashion, the glorious body of Christ Himself. We can form but a faint conception, even from the glowing representations of the apostle, of the glory of the raised body of the just. But this we know, it will be in every respect a structure worthy of the perfected soul that will inhabit it. Now 'the body' is the antagonist, and not the auxiliary of 'the soul'- its clog, its prison, its foe. The moment that Jesus condescends to "grace this mean abode" with His indwelling presence, there commences that fierce and harassing conflict between holiness and sin, which so often wrings the bitter cry from the believer, "Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Oh, what a cumbrance is this body of sin! Its corruptions, its infirmities, its weaknesses, its ailments, its diseases, all conspire to render it the tyrant of the soul, if grace does not keep it under, and bring it into subjection as its slave. How often, when the mind would pursue its favorite study, the wearied and over-tasked body enfeebles it! How often, when the spirit would expatiate and soar in its contemplations of, and in its communings with, God, the inferior nature detains it by its weight, or occupies it with its needs! How often, when the soul thirsts for divine knowledge, and the heart pants for holiness, its highest aspirations and its strongest efforts are discouraged and thwarted by the clinging infirmities of a corrupt and suffering humanity! Not so will it be in the morning of the resurrection. "Then shall this corruptible put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality." Mysterious and glorious change! "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump," the dead in Christ shall awake from their long sleep, and spring from their tombs into a blissful immortality. Oh, how altered! oh, how transformed! oh, how changed! "Sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." "A spiritual body!" Who can imagine, who describe it? What anatomy can explain its mysteries? What pencil can paint its beauties! "A spiritual body!" All the remains, all the vestiges of corrupt matter passed away. "A spiritual body!" So regenerated, so sanctified, so etherealized, so invested with the high and glorious attributes of spirit, yet retaining the "form and pressure" of matter; that now sympathizing and blending with the soul in its high employment of obeying the will and chanting the praises of God, it shall rise with it in its lofty soarings, and accompany and aid it in its deep researches in the hidden and sublime mysteries of eternity.
"If God be for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31.
With such a Father, such a Friend, and such a Comforter, who can wage a successful hostility against the saints of God? God Himself cannot be against us, even when the clouds of His providence appear the most lowering, and His strokes are felt to be the most severe. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." The law cannot be against us; for the Law-fulfiller has, by His obedience, magnified and made it honorable. Divine justice cannot be against us; for Jesus has, in our stead, met its demands, and His resurrection is a full discharge of all its claims. Nor sin, nor Satan, nor men, nor suffering, nor death, can be really or successfully against us, since the condemnation of sin is removed, and Satan is vanquished, and the ungodly are restrained, and suffering works for good, and the sting of death is taken away. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" With such a Being on our side, whom shall we fear? We will fear nothing but the disobedience that grieves, and the sin that offends Him. Fearing this, we need fear nothing else. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear." Listen once more to His wondrous words: "Fear not; for I am with you: do not be dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness." Would we always have God for us? Then let us aim to be for God. God deals with us His creatures by an equitable rule. "The ways of the Lord are equal." "If you walk contrary unto me, their will I walk contrary unto you." Is not God for you? Has He not always, since He manifested Himself to you as your covenant God, been on your side? Has He ever been a wilderness to you, a land of darkness? Has He, in any instance, been unkind, unfriendly, unfaithful? Never. Then be for God- decidedly, wholly, uncompromisingly for God. Your heart for God, your talents for God, your rank for God, your property for God, your influence for God, your all for God; a holy unreserved consecration to Him, all whose love, all whose grace, all whose perfections, all whose heaven of glory is for you. Trembling Christian! God is on your side; and "if God be for us, who can be against us?"
"But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Luke 12:7.
You know so little of God, my reader, because you live at such a distance from God; you have so little transaction with Him- so little confession of sin, so little searching of your own conscience, so little probing of your own heart, so little dealing with Him in the blood and righteousness of Christ, so little transaction with Him in the little things of life. You deal with God in great matters; you take great trials to God, great perplexities, great needs; but in the minutiae of each day's history, in what are called the little things of life, you have no dealings with God whatever; and consequently you know so little of the love, so little of the wisdom, so little of the glory, of this glorious covenant God and reconciled Father. I tell you, the man who lives with God in little matters, who walks with God in the minutiae of his life, is the man who becomes the best acquainted with God- with His character, His faithfulness, His love. To meet God in my daily trials, to take to Him the trials of my calling, the trials of my church, the trials of my family, the trials of my own heart- to take to Him that which brings the shade upon my brow, that rends the sigh from my heart- to remember it is not too trivial to take to God- above all, to take to Him the least taint upon the conscience, the slightest pressure of sin upon the heart, the softest conviction of departure from God- to take it to Him, and confess it at the foot of the cross, with the hand of faith upon the bleeding sacrifice- oh! these are the paths in which a man becomes intimately and closely acquainted with God!
"I the Lord search the heart." Jeremiah 17:10.
Solemn as is this view of the Divine character, the believing mind finds in it sweet and hallowed repose. What more consolatory truth in some of the most trying positions of a child of God than this- the Lord knows the heart. The world condemns, and the saints judge, but God knows the heart. And to those who have been led into deep discoveries of the heart's hidden evil, to whom have been made startling and distressing unveilings, how precious is this character of God- "He that searches the heart!" Is there a single recess of our hearts we would veil from His penetrating glance? Is there a corruption we would hide from His view? Is there an evil of which we would have Him ignorant? Oh no! Mournful and humiliating as is the spectacle, we would throw open every door, and uplift every window, and invite and urge His scrutiny and inspection, making no concealments, and indulging in no reserves, and framing no excuses when dealing with the great Searcher of hearts, exclaiming, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." And while the Lord is thus acquainted with the evil of our hearts, He most graciously conceals that evil from the eyes of others. He seems to say, by His benevolent conduct, "I see my child's infirmity,"- then, covering it with His hand, exclaims- "but no other eye shall see it, but my own!" Oh, the touching tenderness, the loving-kindness of our God! Knowing, as He does, all the evil of our nature, He yet veils that evil from human eye, that others may not despise us as we often despise ourselves. Who but God could know it? who but God would conceal it? And how blessed, too, to remember that while God knows all the evil, He is as intimately acquainted with all the good that is in the hearts of His people! He knows all that His Spirit has implanted, that His grace has wrought. Oh encouraging truth! That spark of love, faint and flickering- that pulsation of life, low and tremulous- that touch of faith, feeble and hesitating- that groan, that sigh, that low thought of self that leads a man to seek the shade- that self-abasement that places his mouth in the dust, oh, not one of these sacred emotions is unseen, unnoticed by God. His eye ever rests with infinite complaisance and delight on His own image in the renewed soul. Listen to His language to David: "Forasmuch as it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well, in that it was in your heart."
"This is my infirmity." Psalm 77:10.
The infirmities of the believer are as varied as they are numerous. Some are weak in faith, and are always questioning their interest in Christ. Some, superficial in knowledge, and shallow in experience, are ever exposed to the crudities of error and to the assaults of temptation. Some are slow travelers in the divine life, and are always in the rear; while yet others are often ready to halt altogether. Then there are others who groan beneath the burden of bodily infirmity, exerting a morbid influence upon their spiritual experience. A nervous temperament- a state of perpetual depression and despondency- the constant corrodings of mental disquietude- physical ailment- imaginary forebodings- a facile yielding to temptation- petulance of spirit- unguardedness of speech- gloomy interpretations of providence- an eye that only views the dark hues of the cloud, the somber shadings of the picture. Ah! from this dismal catalogue how many, making their selection, may exclaim, "This is my infirmity." But be that infirmity what it may, let it endear to our hearts the grace and sympathy of Him who for our sake was encompassed with infirmity, that He might have compassion upon those who are alike begirt. All the fulness of grace that is in Jesus is for that single infirmity over which you sigh.
"He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." John 16:15
The Spirit is the Great Conveyancer of Christ to the soul. Placing Himself between the Fountain and the believer, He purposes to convey all blessing, to supply all need, by taking the things of Christ's mediatorial fulness, and bringing them into our blest and holy experience. Having gone before to prepare the soul for the blessing, by discovering its poverty of state, and creating its poverty of spirit, He now takes of the atoning blood and applies it to the conscience; the justifying righteousness, and wraps it around the soul; the sanctifying grace, and conducts it into the heart. In a word, He reveals Jesus to the mind, testifies of Christ to the soul- how divine He is, therefore able to save; how loving He is, therefore as willing as He is able; how gracious He is, therefore stooping to our lowest circumstance; how tender He is, therefore trampling not upon our weak faith, nor despising our little grace; how sympathizing He is, therefore turning not away His ear, and withdrawing not His heart from our tale of sorrow or our burden of grief. Oh, what a Glorifier of Christ is the Divine Spirit! All that we truly know of Jesus, all that we have inwardly experienced of His grace, has been of His teaching and conveyance. He has conducted us to the Fountain- He has led us to the robing-chamber of the King- He has anointed us with the "oil of gladness,"- He has caused our "garments to smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia; out of the ivory palaces,"- He has opened the treasury, taking of the precious, glorious things of a precious, glorious Christ, spreading them out in all their vastness, suitableness, and freeness before our longing eye. How often, when the soul has hungered, He has broken up to us the bread that came down from heaven! when it has thirsted, He has smitten the rock, and satiated us with its life-giving stream! How often, when guilt has distressed us, He has sprinkled anew the peace-speaking blood; and when sorrow has oppressed, and difficulties have embarrassed, and dependences have failed, and resources have become exhausted, and creatures most deeply loved have most deeply wounded us, He, the tender, loving Comforter, He, the blessed Teacher, He, the great Glorifier of Jesus, has given to us some new and appropriate and precious view of our Immanuel; and in a moment the storm has passed, the waves have stilled, and peace, serenity, and joy have shed their luster on the soul. One glimpse of Jesus in deep tribulation, one glance in heart-rending bereavement, one discovery of His countenance when all is dark, and dreary, and desolate, one surprisal of His love when the heart sinks into loneliness, one touch of His cross when it is depressed, and bowed, and broken by sin- oh, it is as though heaven had expanded its gates, and we had passed within, where neither tribulation, nor bereavement, nor darkness, nor loneliness, nor sin, is known any more forever!
"More than conquerors." Romans 8:37
The original word will admit a stronger rendering than our translators have allowed it. The same word is in another place rendered "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." So that in the present instance it might be translated, "far more exceeding conquerors." The phrase seems to imply that it is more than a mere victory which the believer gains. A battle may be won at a severe loss to the conqueror. A great leader may fall at the head of his troops. The flower of an army may be destroyed, and the best blood of a nation's pride may be shed. But the Christian conquers with no such loss. Nothing whatever essential to His well-being is imperiled. His armor, riveted upon his soul by the Holy Spirit, he cannot lose. His life, hid with Christ in God, cannot be endangered. His Leader and Commander, once dead, is alive and dies no more. Nothing valuable and precious shall he lose. There is not a grace in his soul but shall come out of the battle with sin, and Satan, and the world, purer and brighter for the conflict. The more thoroughly the Lord brings our graces into exercise, the more fully shall they be developed, and the more mightily shall they be invigorated. Not a grain of grace shall perish in the winnowing, not a particle of faith shall be consumed in the refining. Losing nothing, he gains everything! He returns from the battle laden with the spoils of a glorious victory- "more than a conqueror." All his resources are augmented by the result. His armor is brighter, his sword is keener, his courage is more dauntless, for the conflict. Every grace of the Spirit is matured. Faith is strengthened- love is expanded- experience is deepened- knowledge is increased. He comes forth from the trial holier and more valorous than when he entered it. His weakness has taught him wherein his strength lies. His necessity has made him better acquainted with Christ's fulness. His peril has shown him who taught his hands to war and his fingers to fight, and whose shield covered his head in the day of battle. He is "more than conqueror "- he is triumphant!
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18.
Who that has felt it will deny, that "fear has torment"? The legal fear of death, of judgment, and of condemnation- the fear engendered by a slavish view of the Lord's commandments- a defective view of the believer's relation to God- imperfect conceptions of the finished work of Christ- unsettled apprehensions of the great fact of acceptance- yielding to the power of unbelief- the retaining of guilt upon the conscience, or the influence of any concealed sin, will fill the heart with the torment of fear. Some of the most eminent of God's people have thus been afflicted: this was Job's experience- "I am afraid of all my sorrows." "Even when I remember, I am afraid, and trembling takes hold on my flesh." "When I consider Him, I am afraid of Him." So also David- "What time I am afraid, I will trust in You." "My flesh trembles for fear of You; I am afraid of Your judgments." But "perfect love casts out fear:" he that fears is not perfected in the love of Christ. The design and tendency of the love of Jesus shed abroad in the heart is to lift the soul out of all its "bondage through fear of death," and its ultimate consequences, and soothe it to rest on that glorious declaration, triumphing in which, many have gone to glory, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." See the blessed spring from where flows a believer's victory over all bondage-fear- from Jesus: not from his experience of the truth, not from evidence of his acceptance and adoption, not from the work of the Spirit in his heart, blessed as it is- but from out of, and away from, himself- even from Jesus. The blood and righteousness of Christ, based upon the infinite dignity and glory of His person, and wrought into the experience of the believer by the Holy Spirit, expels from the heart all fear of death and of judgment, and fills it with perfect peace. O you of fearful heart! why these anxious doubts, why these tormenting fears, why this shrinking from the thought of death, why these distant, hard, and unkind thoughts of God? Why this prison-house- why this chain? You are not perfected in the love of Jesus, for "perfect love casts out fear:" you are not perfected in that great truth, that Jesus is mighty to save, that He died for a poor sinner, that His death was a perfect satisfaction to Divine justice; and that without a single meritorious work of your own, just as you are, poor, empty, vile, worthless, unworthy, you are welcome to the rich provision of sovereign grace and dying love. The simple belief of this, will perfect your heart in love; and perfected in love, every bondage-fear will vanish away. Oh, seek to be perfected in Christ's love. It is a fathomless ocean, its breadth no mind can scan- its height no thought can scale.
"Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts." Galatians 5:24
True mortification has its foundation in the life of God in the soul. A spiritual, yes, a most spiritual work, it can only spring from a most spiritual principle. It is not a plant indigenous to our fallen nature. It cannot be in the principle of sin to mortify itself. Human nature possesses neither the inclination nor the power by which so holy an achievement can be accomplished. A dead faith, a blind zeal, a superstitious devotion, may prompt severe austerities; but to lay the axe close to the root of indwelling evil, to marshal the forces against the principle of sin in the heart- thus besieging and carrying the very citadel itself- to keep the body under, and bring it into subjection, by a daily and a deadly conflict with its innate and desperately depraved propensities, is a work transcending the utmost reach of the most severe external austerities. It consists, too, in an annulling of the covenant with sin: "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness"- enter into no truce, make no agreement, form no union; "but rather reprove them." "Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?" The resources of sin must be cut off: "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." Whatever tends to, and terminates in, the sinful gratification of the flesh is to be relinquished, as frustrating the great aim of the Christian in the mortification of the deeds of the body. Mortification is aptly set forth as a crucifixion: "Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh." Death by the cross is certain, yet lingering. Our blessed Lord was suspended upon the tree from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. It was a slow lingering torture, yet terminating in His giving up the spirit. Similar to this is the death of sin in the believer. It is progressive and protracted, yet certain in the issue. Nail after nail must pierce our corruptions, until the entire body of sin, each member thus transfixed, is crucified and slain.
"If you through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live." Romans 8:13
"If you." The believer is not a cipher in this work. It is a matter in which he must necessarily possess a deep and personal interest. How many and precious are the considerations that bind him to the duty! His usefulness, his happiness, his sunny hope of heaven, are all included in it. The work of the Spirit is not, and never was designed to be, a substitute for the personal work of the believer. His influence, indispensable and sovereign though it is, does not release from human and individual responsibility. "Work out your own salvation," "Keep yourselves in the love of God," "Building up yourselves," are exhortations which emphatically and distinctly recognize the obligation of personal effort and human responsibility. The reasoning which bids me defer the work of battling with my heart's corruptions, of mortifying the deeds of the body, until the Spirit performs his part, argues an unhealthy Christianity, and betrays a kind of truce with sin, which must on no account for a moment be entertained. As, under the law, the father was compelled to hurl the first missile at the profane child, so under the Gospel- a milder and more benignant economy though it be- the believer is to cast the first stone at his corruptions; he is to take the initiative in the great work of mortifying and slaying the cherished sin. "If you do mortify." Let us, then, be cautious of merging human responsibility in divine influence; of exalting the one by lowering the other; of cloaking the spirit of slothfulness and indolence beneath an apparently jealous regard for the honor of the Holy Spirit. How narrow is the way of truth! How many diverging paths there are, at each turning of which Satan stands, clothed as an angel of light, quoting Scripture with all the aptness and eloquence of an apostle! But God will never release us from the obligation of "striving against sin." "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection," was Paul's noble declaration. Is no self-effort to be made to escape the gulf of habitual intoxication, by dashing the ensnaring beverage from the lips? Is no self-effort to be made to break away from the thraldom of a companionship, the influence of which is fast hurrying us to ruin and despair? Is no self-effort to be made to dethrone an unlawful habit, to resist a powerful temptation, to dissolve the spell that binds us to a dangerous enchantment, to unwind the chain that makes us the vassal and the slave of a wrong and imperious inclination? Oh, surely, God deals not with us as we deal with a piece of mechanism- but as reasonable, moral, and accountable beings. "I drew you with the bands of a man." Mortification, therefore, is a work to which the believer must address himself, and that with prayerful and resolute earnestness.
"Somebody has touched me." Luke 8:46
We must acknowledge that the mortification of sin infinitely transcends the mightiest puttings forth of creative power. "If you through the Spirit do mortify." This He does by making us more sensible of the existence of indwelling sin- by deepening our aspirations after holiness- by shedding abroad the love of God in the heart. But, above all, the Spirit mortifies sin in the believer by unfoldings of the Lord Jesus. Leading us to the cross, He would show us that as Christ died for sin, so we must die to sin- and by the self-same instrument too. One real, believing sight of the cross of Jesus!- oh, what a crucifying power it has! Paul, standing beneath its tremendous shadow, and gazing upon its divine victim, exclaimed, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Get near the Savior's cross, if you would accomplish anything in this great and necessary work of mortification. The Spirit effects it, but through the instrumentality of the Atonement. There must be a personal contact with Jesus. This only is it that draws forth His grace. When the poor woman in the Gospel touched the Savior, we are told that multitudes thronged Him. And yet, in all that crowd that pressed upon His steps, one only extracted the healing virtue. Thus do multitudes follow Christ externally; they attend His courts, and approach His ordinances, and speak well of His name, who know nothing by faith of personal transaction with the Lord. They crowd His path, and strew their branches in His way, and chant their hosannas; but of how few can Christ say, "Somebody has touched me"! Oh, let us have more personal dealing with the Lord Jesus. He delights in this. It pleases, it glorifies Him. He bids us come and disclose every personal feeling, and make known every need, and unveil every grief, and confide to His bosom each secret of our own. The crowd cannot veil us from His eye. He sees the poor and contrite; He marks the trembling and the lowly; He meets the uplifted glance; He feels the thrill of the gentle, hesitating, yet believing touch. "Somebody has touched me." Who? Is it you, my reader?
"My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:5-6
The rod of your heavenly Father is upon you. In the experience of your sensitive spirit, your feeling heart, the stroke is a heavy, and a sore one. To a keen sense of its severity, is perhaps added the yet keener conviction of the sin that has evoked it- that, but for your wanderings from God, your rebellion against His will, your disobedience of His commands, there would not have come upon you a correction so painful and humiliating. But where in your sorrow will you repair? To the solace and sympathy of whose heart will you betake yourself? Will you flee from that Father? Will you evade His eye, and shun His presence? Eternal love forbids it! What then? You will hasten and throw yourself in His arms, and fall upon His bosom, confessing your sins, and imploring His forgiveness. Thus taking hold of His strength, with that displeased and chastening Father you are in a moment at peace. Blessed is the man, O Lord, whom You chasten, and draw closer within the sacred pavilion of Your loving, sheltering bosom. Oh, what an unveiling of the heart of God may be seen in a loving correction! No truth in experimental religion is more verified than this, that the severest discipline of our heavenly Father springs from His deepest, holiest love. That in His rebukes, however severe, in His corrections, however bitter, there is more love, more tenderness, and more real desire for our well-being, than exists in the fondest affection a human heart ever cherished. And oftentimes, in His providential dealings with His children, there is more of the heart of God unfolded in a dark, overhanging cloud than is ever unveiled and revealed in a bright and glowing sunbeam. But this truth is only learned in God's school.
"The law was our school-master to bring us unto Christ." Galatians 3:24
In the school of the law, the first and the grand lesson which the sinner learns is his sin, his curse, and his condemnation. There he is convinced of his vileness, convicted of his guilt, and learns his poverty, helplessness, and hell-deserving. All the fond conceit of his own worthiness, strength, and fitness, vanishes as a vapor, and he sees himself in the power, under the curse, and exposed to the tremendous condemnation of God's righteous, broken, avenging law. Thus convicted in the very act of his rebellion against God, he is brought, like a felon, into the presence of Jesus. There he stands, pale and trembling, his witnesses many and loud, while his own awakened conscience pleads guilty to the charge. Are you that soul, dear reader? Has the law arrested and brought you within Christ's court? Oh, you never were in such a position before- so new, so strange, so blessed! It may be, you never felt yourself so near hell as now, under the sentence of God's law; but you never were so near heaven as now, in the presence of Jesus. You are now in that court where justice to the fullest is honored, and where mercy to its utmost is extended. You are in Christ's court, at Christ's bar- awaiting the sentence of Him who was made under that law, fulfilled its precepts, and endured its penalty to the uttermost. You are in the presence of Him who came to deliver sinners from its curse and woe, and to raise them far above the reach of all condemnation. Never were you so sensible of your guilt and ruin as now, yet never were you so near the fountain that cleanses from all sin, or so close to Him who was pierced to shelter the vilest of the vile. Your judge is your Savior. He who sits upon that throne is He who hung upon the cross. You are arraigned in the presence and are thrown upon the mercy of Him, the delight of whose heart, and the glory of whose character, it is to save sinners; whose love for them induced Him to screen His glory, and to appear in humiliation- to suffer, bleed, and die. You are in the presence of Him who, though He has ascended on high, and is now glorified with the glory "he had with the Father before the world was," is yet engaged in securing the precious fruits of His soul's travail. Look up, poor soul! for "your redemption draws near." Never yet did he allow a sin-accused, self-condemned sinner, to go out of this court unblessed, unsaved.
"If you love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15
As King in Zion, our adorable Lord Jesus delights to reign over a loving and an obedient people. Thus He has made their obedience to His commands a test of their love to His person- "If you love me, keep my commandments." "Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you," was the last charge given to His disciples. Now it is this keeping of His commandments, this observance of what He has enjoined, that glorifies Him in His saints. Coming to Him in our ignorance glorifies Him as Prophet; coming to Him with our guilt glorifies Him as Priest; and walking obediently to His precepts glorifies Him as King. It places the crown upon the head of His sovereignty, it recognizes the spiritual nature of His kingdom, and it upholds the purity, majesty, and authority of His laws. It becomes, then, the solemn and imperative duty of every believer to search the will and testament of his dying, risen, and exalted Lord, to ascertain all that He has enjoined upon his obedience in the way of precept and command. For how can he be a good and an obedient subject, if he does not understand the laws of Christ's kingdom? Then, when the precept is clearly revealed, and the command is distinctly made known, immediate, self-denying, and cheerful obedience is to follow, as that path which, while it insures the sweetest peace to the soul, brings the highest glory to Christ. Let yours be an obedient walk, dear reader! Let your obedience be the fruit of faith, the dictate of love. Permit no reserve in your obedience; let it be full, honest, and complete. Search the New Testament Scripture, and examine closely your own walk, and ascertain in what particular your obedience to Christ is deficient. Be upright, honest, and sincere in your inquiry. Let your fervent prayer be, "Lord, what will You have me to do? Is there any precept of Your word slighted, any, command disobeyed, any cross not taken up? Is there any desire to withhold my neck from Your, yoke, or to withdraw my shoulder from Your burden, or to mark out a smoother path than that which You have chosen and bade me walk in? Is there any secret framing of excuse for my disobedience, any temporizing, any carnal feeling, any worldly motive, any fear of man, any shrinking from consequences? Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You. You are precious to my soul, for You have borne my sins, endured my curse, carried my cross; and in return do only ask, as an evidence of how much I owe, and how much I love, that I should keep Your commandments, and follow Your example. Now, Lord, take my poor heart, and let it be Your, Your wholly, and Your forever. Let Your sweet love constrain me to run in the way of Your commandments, for this will I do, when You shall enlarge my heart." Then will follow the precious fruits of obedience, even as the bud expands into the blossom, and the blossom ripens into the fruit. There will be a growth, a delightful expansion of the life of God in the soul; and with the increase of the divine life, there will be an increase of all the precious "fruits of the Spirit." See that your Redeemer is glorified in your obedience; that for the happiness of your soul, and for the honor of Christ, you "stand complete in all the will of God."
"Is not this the carpenter's Son?" Mark 6:3
The attending circumstances of His birth, and the subsequent events of His life, entered deeply into the fact of His abasement. In each step that He took, He did seem to say, "I was born to humiliation and suffering; therefore I came into the world." His parents were poor, of lowly extraction, and humble occupation. Until the age of thirty, He lived a life of entire seclusion from the world; and as He was "subject unto His parents," doubtless His early years were employed in assisting His father in his lowly calling; thus, with His own hands, ministering to His temporal necessities. For, be it remembered, it was a material part of the original curse pronounced by God on man, "In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread." Jesus was made under the law, that He might endure the curse; that curse He fully sustained. There was not a part, the bitterness of which He did not taste, and the tremendousness of which He did not endure; and that for His elect's sake. It were no fanciful idea, therefore, to suppose, that in this feature of the curse our Lord personally entered; that this part of the penalty of human transgression He fully paid; and that, in early life, by the sweat of His brow, He did literally provide for His own temporal sustenance. Oh touching view of the humiliation of the Son of God! How does it dignify the most lowly occupation, sweeten the heaviest trial, and lighten the deepest care, to reflect, "thus lived, and labored, and toiled, the Incarnate God!" His riper years were marked by corresponding lowliness. The curse tracked His every step, pressing its claims, and exacting its penalties, to the last moment of existence. What were all His excessive privations, but parts of the same? No home sheltered Him- no domestic comforts cheered Him- no smile of fondness greeted Him- no hand of affection welcomed Him- "The Son of man has not where to lay His head," was the heart-rending acknowledgment extracted from His lips. And when a day of exhausting toil had closed upon Him- a day spent in journeying from village to village, and from house to house, preaching the kingdom, healing all manner of diseases, supplying the needs, alleviating the sufferings, and soothing the cares of others- He would retire, lonely and unrefreshed, to the bleak mountain, and spend His long sleepless night in unremitting prayer for His Church! O adorable and adored Jehovah-Jesus! was ever humiliation and love like yours?
"They shall call his name, Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Matthew 1:23
Apart from the doctrine of the supreme Godhead of Christ, upon what mere sand do men build their hope of heaven; what dreams, what shadows are all their expectations of eternal life! The Divinity of Jesus denied or rejected, all that is precious and valuable in His death is reduced to a mere negation. What would be His obedience to the law, if reduced to a mere finite obedience? What would be His endurance of its penalty upon the cross, if a 'creature' only were suffering? How could either meet the claims of God's moral government, sustain His holiness, satisfy His justice, and present Him to our view- just to Himself, and yet the justifier of him that believes? Never! If your acceptance as a sinner with this holy Lord God is based on any other righteousness than the "righteousness of God," you are lost, and that to all eternity! A 'created' Savior! Oh, wretched fantasy! A finite Redeemer! Oh awful and malignant scheme of Satan to drown men's souls in perdition! But to the true believer how glorious, invaluable, and precious is this truth! What a rock does he stand upon, whose faith rests upon the Godhead of Christ! He sees in His blood and righteousness the infinite dignity and worth of the God-Man Mediator. All that he needs as a poor, guilty, undone sinner he finds here. A righteousness that fully acquits him from all the charges of law; a fountain that cleanses him from all the pollution of sin; a Savior, not mighty only, but almighty, to carry his sorrows, bear his burdens, and strengthen him for the conflicts and the difficulties of the pilgrimage. Look up, then, O believer! and fasten the eye of your faith upon the eternal glory of your covenant Head. Your salvation is secured by an Almighty Redeemer, who is able to keep that which you have committed unto Him against the day when He will make up His peculiar treasure.
"And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." Exodus 3:3
This remarkable incident in the history of God's ancient Israel is illustrative of most important truth, bearing upon the experimental and practical experience of each believer in Jesus. It presents a true and beautiful outline of the Church of God. We are reminded of the two opposite natures of the believer- the fallen and the restored, the fleshly and the spiritual. The one low, sinful, unlovely, and of the earth- earthly; the other elevated, holy, glorious, and of heaven- heavenly. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." The conflict between these opposite and antagonist natures in the child of God is also presented to view. As the bush in which the Divinity dwelt was surrounded by flame, so the regenerated man, in whom the eternal God deigns to dwell by His spirit, is perpetually encircled by the fire of conflict, trial, and suffering. Nature and grace, sin and holiness, are as contrary the one to the other as any two principles can be. They can no more agree, commingle, or coalesce, than can the opposite and antagonist elements in the natural world. Nor can there ever be a truce between them. They must necessarily and perpetually be at variance, hostile to and at war one with the other. The contest is for supremacy. The great question at issue is, "which shall reign in the believer- sin or holiness; nature or grace; Satan or God?" Oh, what a fiery conflict is this! Hear the confession of an inspired apostle, drawn from his own painful experience: "I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I allow not; for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that do I." Who cannot trace the conflict here? Sin he deeply, inveterately abhorred. The prevailing tendency, the habitual and fixed inclination, of his renewed mind was to holiness- the bent of his desires was towards God. And yet, in consequence of the native depravity of his heart, the influence of sinful propensities, corrupt inclinations and desires, he felt like one chained to a body of death, from which he longed to be delivered. Here was that which defined the two natures, marked the perpetual conflict between both, and which distinguished the holy man from the sinner. In addition to this spiritual conflict, there are the flames of suffering and trial which often encircle a dear child of God. This is the baptism of fire, connected with, and ever following, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. "He shall baptize you," says John, "with the Holy Spirit, and with fire." God has His "fire in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem." But it is not the furnace of justice, nor the fire of wrath. Jesus, the surety, has passed through and sustained all this; He has quenched its flame, and extinguished its embers. But it is the discipline of everlasting love and mercy. And though persecution may be permitted to rage, and the confessor of Christ may ascend, to glory in a chariot of fire- though trials of various kinds may overtake the child of God, his grace and his graces "tried with fire,"- yet both the persecution of the Church and the trial of the believer are but the fruit of eternal and unchangeable love; and will prove purifying, sanctifying, and saving. Nothing will be consumed but the tinsel of the world and the dross of sin, the alloy so much and so frequently found mixed with the pure gold.
"I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned." Exodus 3:3
Contemplate one more surpassing and precious truth- the Church is unconsumed! And why? Because He who dwelt in the bush dwells in the Church. The believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, dwells in him. Christ is in him the hope of glory. It is impossible that he can perish. Why has not the poor feeble bush been consumed? why has not grace declined, and faith failed, and love become totally extinguished? why has not the "fiery dart" of Satan prevailed, and the fierce and hot flame of persecution and of trial utterly consumed? Because greater is He that is in the believer than he that is in the world. Believer in Jesus! tell me not only of the sin that dwells in you, often bringing your soul into bondage and distress; tell me also of the grace that dwells in you, which as often gives you the victory, and sends you rejoicing on your way. Tell not only of the burning fiery furnace seven times heated; tell also of Him whose form is like the Son of God, who is with you in the furnace, and who has brought and who yet will bring you through, with not a hair of your head singed, nor the smell of fire passed upon your garments. Tell not only of the "trial of your faith," "though it be tried with fire," but that also, through the ceaseless intercession of Jesus within the veil, that faith never yet has failed. Tell not only of the burden that has oppressed, tell also of the grace that has sustained- not only of the sorrow that has wounded, but also of the divine sympathy, tenderness, and gentleness that have soothed and comforted, bound up and healed that wound. Oh, to hear more frequently the shout of victory and the song of praise breaking in sweet music from the lips of the redeemed! How much more would Jesus be glorified!
"Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." Isaiah 53:4
In order to the perfection of His character as the High Priest of His people, as the Brother born for adversity, in order to be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," He must Himself suffer. He must know from painful experience what sorrow meant- what a wounded spirit and a broken bleeding heart, a burdened and a beclouded mind, were. In this school He must be taught, and disciplined, and trained; He must "learn obedience by the things which He suffered;" He must be made "perfect through sufferings." And oh, how deeply has He been taught, and how thoroughly has He been trained, and how well has He learned thus to sympathize with a suffering Church! You have gone, it may be, with your trouble to your earthly friend; you have unfolded your tale of woe, have unveiled every feeling and emotion. But, ah! how have the vacant countenance, the wandering eye, the listless air, the cold response, told you that your friend, with all his love, could not enter into your case! The care that darkened your brow had never shaded his- the sorrow that lacerated your heart had never touched his- the cup you were drinking he had never tasted. What was lacking? Sympathy, growing out of an identity of circumstance. You have gone to another. He has trod that path before you, He has passed through that very trouble, His spirit has been accustomed to grief, His heart schooled in trial, sorrow in some of its acutest forms has been His companion; and now He is prepared to bend upon you a melting eye, to lend an attentive ear and a feeling heart, and to say, "Brother, I have known all, I have felt all, I have passed through all- I can sympathize with all." That Friend of friends, that Brother of brothers, is Jesus. He has gone before you; He has left a fragrance on the brim of that very cup you are now drinking; He has bedewed with tears and left the traces of His blood on that very path along which you are now walking; He has been taught in that very school in which you are now learning. Then what encouragement to take your case, in the sweet simplicity of faith, and lay it before the Lord! to go and tell Jesus, confessing to Him, and over Him, the sin which has called forth the chastisement, and then the grief which that chastisement has occasioned. What a wonderful High Priest is Jesus! As the bleeding Sacrifice, you may lay your hand of faith upon His head, and acknowledge your deepest guilt; and, as the merciful Priest, you may lay your head on His bosom, and disclose your deepest sorrow. O my precious Savior! must You sink to this deep humiliation, and endure this bitter suffering, in order to enter into my lonely sorrow!
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21
An idolatrous and unsanctified attachment to the creature has again and again crucified love to Christ in the heart. Upon the same principle that no man can love the world and God with a like supreme and kindred affection, so no man can give to Christ and the creature the same intensity of regard. And yet, how often has the creature stolen the heart from its lawful Sovereign! That heart that was once so simply and so supremely the Lord's, those affections that clung to Him with such purity and power of grasp, have now been transferred to another and an inferior object; the piece of clay that God had given but to deepen the obligation, and heighten the soul's love to Himself, has been molded into an idol, before which the heart pours its daily incense; the flower that He has caused to spring forth but to endear His own beauty, and make His own name more fragrant, has supplanted the "Rose of Sharon" in the bosom. Oh! is it thus that we abuse our mercies? is it thus that we convert our blessings into poisons? that we allow the things that were sent to endear the heart of our God, and to make the cross, through which they came, more precious, to allure our affections from their holy and blessed center? Fools that we are, to love the creature more than the Creator! Dear reader, why has God been disciplining you as it may be, He has? why has He removed your idols, crumbled into dust your piece of clay, and blown witheringly upon your beauteous flower? Why? Because He hates idolatry; and idolatry is essentially the same, whether it be offered to a lifeless, shapeless stock, or to a being of intellect and beauty. And what does His voice speak in every stream that He dries, in every plant that He blows upon, and in every disappointment He writes upon the creature? "My son, give me your heart. I want your love, your pure and supreme affection; I want to be the one and only object of your delight. I gave my Son for you- His life for yours; I sent my Spirit to quicken, to renew, to seal, and possess you for myself; all this I did that I might have your heart. To possess myself of this, I have smitten your gourds, removed your idols, broken your earthly dependences, and have sought to detach your affections from the creature, that they may arise, undivided and unfettered, and entwine around One who loves you with an undying love."
"Precious faith." 2 Peter 1:1
Truly is faith the crowning grace of all, and a most costly and precious fruit of the renewed mind. From it springs every other grace of a gracious soul. It has been designated the 'queen' grace, because a royal train ever attends it. Faith comes not alone, nor dwells alone, nor works alone. Where faith in Jesus is, there also are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, patience, godly sorrow, and every kindred perfection of the Christian character, all blending in the sweetest harmony, all uniting to celebrate the glory of God's grace, and to crown Jesus Lord of all. Is it, then, surprising that this should be distinguished from all the others by the term "precious faith"? No! that must needs be precious which unfolds the preciousness of everything else. It makes the real gold more precious, and it transmutes everything else into gold. It looks to a "precious Christ" It leads to His "precious blood." It relies upon the "precious promises." And its very trial, though it be by fire, is "precious." It so changes the nature of the painful, the humiliating, and the afflictive, as to turn a Father's frown, rebuke, and correction, into some of the costliest mercies of life. Precious grace, that bids me look upon God in Christ as reconciled; and which, in the absence of all evidence of sight, invites me to rest upon the veracity of God! which takes me in my deepest poverty to Jesus, my true Joseph, having in His hands and at His disposal all the treasures of grace and glory! These are some of the characteristics of this royal grace. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." By faith I can not only say that Jesus died for sinners, but that He died for me. Faith makes the great atonement mine. Faith appropriates to itself all that is in Christ. It lays its hand upon the covenant of grace, and exclaims, "All things are mine." Oh, to see one bowed to the dust under a sense of sin, yet by faith traveling to the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus for salvation, and finding it too- to mark the power of this grace in sustaining the soul in deep waters, holding it up in perilous paths- is a spectacle on which God Himself must look down with ineffable delight.
"Do you believe on the Son of God?" John 9:35
The application of this question, reader, must be to your conscience. Have you "like precious faith" with that which we have attempted to describe? Alas! it may be that you are that tree which brings not forth this good fruit. Yours may be a species of fruit somewhat resembling it; but do not be deceived in a matter so momentous as this. "You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble." That is, you assent to the first proposition of true religion- the being of God; this is well, because your judgment assents to that which is true. And still you have not gone beyond the faith of demons! They believe, and yet horror inconceivable is but the effect of the forced assent of their minds to the truth- they "tremble." Oh, look well to your faith! There must be, in true faith, not only an assent, but also a consent. In believing to the saving of the soul, we not only assent to the truth of the word, but we also consent to take Christ as He is there set forth- the sinner's reconciliation with God. A mere intellectual illumination, or a historical belief of the facts of the Bible, will never place the soul beyond the reach of hell, nor within the region of heaven. There is a "form of knowledge," as well as a "form of godliness;" and both existing apart from vital religion in the soul constitute a "vain religion." Again we press upon you the important inquiry, Have you the "faith of God's elect"? Is it a faith that has stained the glory of self-merit, and laid the pride of intellect in the dust? Is it rooted in Christ? Has it transformed you, in some degree, into the opposite of what you once were? Are any of the "precious fruits" of the Spirit put forth in your life? Is Jesus precious to your soul? And to walk in all circumstances humbly with God- is it the earnest desire of your heart? If there is no sorrow for sin, no going out of yourself to Jesus, no fruits of holiness, in some degree, appearing, then is yours but a "dead faith,"- dead, because it is a part and parcel of a nature "dead in trespasses and in sins,"- dead, because it is not the fruit of the quickening Spirit- dead, because it is inoperative, even as the lifeless root transmits no vitality and moisture to the tree- dead, because it never can bring you to eternal life. Of what value, then, is it? Cut it down! why should it use up the ground? If, then, you have never brought forth the good fruit of prayer, and repentance, and Faith, you are yet in the old nature of sin of rebellion, and of death.
"For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." Ephesians 2:18
What is prayer? It is the communion of the spiritual life in the soul of man with its Divine Author; it is a breathing back the divine life into the bosom of God, from where it came; it is holy, spiritual, humble converse with God. That was a beautiful remark of a converted heathen- "I open my Bible, and God talks with me; I close my Bible, and then I talk with God." Striking definition of true prayer! It is a talking with God as a child talks with his father, as a friend converses with his friend: "And the Lord talked with Moses." Let it be remembered, then, that true prayer is the aspiration of a renewed soul towards God; it is the breathing of the divine life, sometimes in the accents of sorrow, sometimes as the expression of need, and always as the acknowledgment of dependence; it is the looking up of a renewed, afflicted, necessitous, and dependent child to its own loving Father, in all the consciousness of utter weakness, and in all the sweetness of filial trust. Who is the object of prayer? Jehovah, the Lord of heaven and earth; to Him, as the Three in One, does true prayer only address itself. He alone has an ear to hear our tale of sorrow; an arm than can support in time of need; and a heart that can sympathize with our deep necessity. The high and lofty One, that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, who is the Creator and Governor of all worlds, who bears up the pillars of the universe, to whom all the powers in heaven, in earth, and in hell are subject, He is the glorious object to whom we address ourselves in prayer. Not less amazing is the medium of prayer- what is it? Not a creature, dependent as ourselves; but the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, equal in might, majesty, and dominion with the Father, and yet the Elder Brother, the slain Lamb, the Mediator and Surety, the High Priest of His people. Prayer finds acceptance within the veil, only as it is presented in the name of Jesus. The voice that speaks there, in behalf of the lowly suppliant, is the voice of Immanuel's blood; this is the "new and living way,"- this is the plea that prevails, this is the argument that moves Omnipotence itself. He who pleads the blood of Jesus in prayer may have ten thousand tongues all pleading against him, but "the blood of Jesus speaks better things," and drowns their every voice. Oh precious, costly medium of prayer! Marvellous, too, is the Author of prayer- who is He? The apostle informs us: "Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered." Thus is it the Holy Spirit who begets the desire, indites the petition, and breathes it forth in prayer through Christ to God. What a sublime exercise, then, is prayer! The outgoing of the divine life in the soul is its nature- Jehovah its object- the Lord Jesus its medium- and the Holy Spirit its author. Thus the blessed Trinity is unity is engaged in the great work of a sinner's approach unto God.
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8
You will make no advance in the divine life, if your eye is ever upon yourself instead of Christ. What though the experience of today is the opposite of the experience of yesterday- yesterday all brightness, today all cloudiness; yesterday your soul like a well-tuned psalm, today every string loosed and breathing no melody; yesterday, Jesus felt to be so near and precious, today seeming to awaken not a loving emotion in your heart; yesterday, communion with God so sweet, today, none whatever; yesterday, desiring to walk uprightly, holily, and humbly, today detecting so much that is vacillating, weak, and vile. Nevertheless, Jesus is not changed. The work of Christ is the same- your acceptance in Him is the same- His intercession in heaven for you is the same; then, where should you fly to spiritual experiences for support, strength, and consolation- rising when they rise, falling when they fall- when all your standing, joy, peace, and hope are entirely out of yourself, and are solely in Christ? What though you change a thousand times in one day? He never changes. God may vary His dispensations- He may alter His mode of dealing- He may change the nature of His discipline - He may vary the lesson, but His loving-kindness and His truth are as unchangeable as His very b