"And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity." Isaiah 33:24
Let the Christian invalid be cheered with the prospect of before long arriving at this land of light and love, of rest and holiness. The moment the spirit is "absent from the body, and present with, the Lord," it treads those balmy shores, where health breathes in the air, flows in the waters, and sparkles in the sunbeams. There is no sickness in heaven, for "the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity;" and this accounts for the absence of all physical malady. There is no sickness in heaven, because there is no sin. But the more full enjoyment of this blessing is reserved for the new earth, upon which the "holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband," will dwell. Then it is that "God shall wipe away all tears front their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Christian sufferer! you are nearing this land- a few more days of languishing and pain, a few more nights of weary wakefulness, and you are there! Don't you see, through the chinks of the "earthly house of this tabernacle," "a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens"? Don't you see the "city which has foundations, whose maker and builder is God"? It has "no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine on it: for the glory of God does enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. . . The gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there is no night there." Soon you will exchange this hospital for your Father's house, and as you cross the threshold, the last pang is inflicted, the last sigh is heaved, and the last tear is brushed from your eye. Then, at the resurrection of the just, comes the new body. "It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." All this blessedness and glory Jesus has procured for you. All this blessedness and glory awaits you; and into its full possession and experience Jesus will soon bring you. Animated with such a prospect, and cheered with such a hope, patiently endure the prolonged sickness, the protracted suffering, exclaiming in the spirit and language of Jesus, "O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, Your will be done!"
"I have prayed for YOU". Luke 22:32
We must not overlook the individuality of our Lord's intercession. As if forgetting for that moment the whole Church, and regarding Peter as representing in his person each tempted believer, Jesus makes him the especial object of His prayer. How much comfort do we lose in overlooking this truth- in not more distinctly recognizing the personal interest which each believer has in the love of Christ! "My grace is sufficient for you;" "I have prayed for you," are the gracious words with which Jesus would meet each individual case. Think not then, O believer, that you are alone, unloved, uncared for, unthought of- Jesus bears you upon His heart; and if loved, and cared for, and remembered by Him, you can afford to part with some creature stream, however loved and valued that stream may be. Keep your eye intently fixed upon your Lord's intercession. We too much lose ourselves in the crowd, and merge ourselves in the mass. We forget alike our individual interest in the covenant, and our personal obligation to glorify God in our different walks of life. But it is the especial privilege of the believer to concentrate upon himself, as in focal power, every thought and affection of God, just as the eye of a well-executed portrait may be said to fasten itself exclusively upon each individual in the room. "I have prayed for you." O cheering declaration! Christian reader, lose not sight of it. Come and lay your hand of faith upon the covenant of grace, and say, "the fulness of the covenant is mine." Lay your hand upon the covenant of God, and say, "the God of the covenant is mine; Jesus, its Mediator, is my Savior. He obeyed, suffered, bled, and expired, all for me. 'He has loved me, and has given Himself for me.' Lord! do you think of me? does my case come up before Your notice? do You bear my burden upon Your arm, my sorrow upon Your heart, my name upon Your lips; and do You pray for my poor, assaulted, and trembling faith? Yes, Lord, You do. I believe it, because You have said it, and press the precious truth, so rich in consolation, to my trembling, grateful heart."
"I have prayed for you that your faith fail not." Luke 22:32
The Lord as its Shepherd goes before His flock. He precedes it every step, not only to map its path, but also to provide for all the circumstances, the most trivial and minute, of its history. To Him nothing can be unforeseen, from Him nothing can be concealed. No event can surprise Him, no contingency can thwart Him, no difficulty can embarrass Him. The entire history of the individual saint of God, from his earliest to his latest breath, is written in His book, when as yet it had no existence, as minutely and as accurately as though it were a record of the past. In anticipation of each developed circumstance, of each temptation and trial, difficulty and need, Jesus prays for His people "I have prayed." It would seem as if the sorrow had reached His heart before it touched our own; as if the assault had fallen upon Him before it fell upon us; and that, knowing what would transpire, seeing in what critical and painful circumstances His child would be placed, He anticipates his case by especial intercession on his behalf: "I have prayed for you." Can the mind of the tried believer repose upon a truth more sustaining and soothing than this? It had been a glorious unfolding of the love of Jesus, to know that when the sifting came, when faith was actually tried, that then Jesus prayed for the sufferer. But to be assured that before a dart was winged, or a shock was felt, or even a suspicion was awakened that the tempter was approaching, and that danger was near, Jesus, robed in His priestly garments, and bearing the golden censer in His hand, had entered within the veil to make especial intercession for that trial of faith- oh, it is a view of His love, which to the mind of the tempted believer would seem to overtop and outshine all others! And for what does Jesus pray? That the temptation might not come? that faith may not be tried? Oh no! He does not ask the Father in behalf of His people, for their entire exemption from temptation and trial. Full well does He know that if conformed to Him, their Head, they must through much tribulation enter the kingdom. Pure and sinless though He was, needing no sifting and no refining, He yet passed through each process as if there were in Him the chaff to scatter, and the alloy to consume. How much more needful does Jesus see that His people, in whom there is such an admixture of the precious with the vile, so much indwelling sin, so much powerful corruption perpetually seeking to destroy indwelling grace, should not be exempted from the process which, painful though it be, is absolutely needful and eternally good! But Jesus prays that in the actual trial of faith it might not fail. Now, why, is it, O believing soul, that your tried faith has not failed? Why, have you passed through the sifting with not one precious grain fallen to the ground? Because your great High Priest prayed for you before the trial, and prayed for you in the trial, and has not ceased to pray for you since the trial. All upholding grace, all restraining grace, all restoring grace, all establishing grace, has been meted out to you through the channel of your Lord's perpetual and ever-prevalent intercession. Oh, how should this truth endear the Savior to your heart! With what holy contrition should it fill your spirit, and with what sweet affection should it constrain your soul to a simple and an unreserved surrender to God!
"Have faith in God." Mark 9:22
Have faith in Him as God. His character justifies it, His word invites it, His promises encourage it, His blessing crowns it. How frequently in the word does God condescend to invite the exercise of faith in Himself by a declaration and on the ground of what He is. Thus to Abraham: "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God: walk before me, and be perfect." And again to His Church: "I am the Lord God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." How kind and condescending in God is this mode of asking and encouraging the confidence of His people! How signally does He come down to our weakness and infirmity! What a foundation for faith to build upon does He reveal! what a field for faith to work in does He open! what amplitude, what scope, and what riches amid which it may revel! "I am God all-sufficient. Is anything too hard for me?" Faith needs and asks no more. Less than this would not meet its case more than this it could not have. When faith feels that it has God's word for its warrant in believing, God's command for its rule in obeying, God's promise for its encouragement in suffering, and God Himself as the foundation of its confidence and the center of its rest, it becomes invulnerable, and almost omnipotent. The exact measure of our faith is the extent of our experimental knowledge of God. Acquaintance with God must inspire the mind with confidence in Him. The more truly we know, the more implicitly we trust in Him. It is in this way, among others, that He answers the prayer of His people, "Establish Your word unto Your servant, who is devoted to Your fear." God establishes the truth of His word by enlarging the believer's knowledge of Himself, and this knowledge is mainly attained through the truth. The word reveals God, and an experimental knowledge of God confirms the truth of the word; the one thus establishing the other. Our faith, then, if it be a real principle, must have respect to God as God. "Have faith in God."
"Speak you comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she has received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." Isaiah 40:2
By sealing a sense of pardon upon the conscience, God comforts the disconsolate. There is no comfort equal to this. As our deepest sorrow flows from a sense of sin, so our deepest joy springs from a sense of its forgiveness. What comfort can there be where this is lacking? what sorrow where this is felt? "When he gives quietness, who then can make trouble?" This was the comfort which God commanded the prophet to speak to His spiritual Jerusalem: "Say unto her, that her sins are forgiven." And this is the message which the Lord sends to His whole Church. This comfort have all His saints. Your sins, O believer, are forgiven. "I have blotted out your sins as a cloud, and your iniquities as a thick cloud," says God. You are not called upon to believe that God will pardon, but that He has pardoned you. Forgiveness is a past act; the sense of it written upon the conscience is a present one. "By one offering Jesus has perfected forever those who are sanctified," has forever put away their sins. Faith in the blood of Jesus brings the soul into the possession of a present forgiveness. And when God the Holy Spirit thus imprints a sense of pardoned sin upon the troubled conscience, all other sorrows in comparison dwindle into insignificance. "Strike, Lord," says Luther, "I bear anything willingly, because my sins are forgiven." Thus, beloved, God comforts his conscience-troubled people. He loves to speak comfortably to their hearts. Is it any delight to Him to see you carrying your burden of conscious sin day after day and week after week? Ah no! He has procured the means of your pardon at a great price- nothing less than the sacrifice of His beloved Son; and will not the same love which procured your forgiveness, speak it to your heart? Oh yes; the sun in the heavens pours not forth its light more freely, light itself speeds not more rapidly, the mountain stream rushes on not more gladsome and unfettered, than the pardon of sin flows from the heart of God to the humble and the contrite mourner. Is sin your trouble? Does conscious guilt cast you down? Look up, disconsolate soul! there is forgiveness with God. It is in His heart to pardon you. Repair to His feet, go you to God's confessional, and over the head of the atoning sacrifice acknowledge your transgression, and He will forgive the iniquity of your sin. And, oh, what will be the joy of your heart, the music of your lips, the grateful surrender of your person, when Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven; go in peace"!
"And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:38
How few there are, among the many professing Christ, who yet know anything by experience of the great and wondrous life of faith! Only those who are taught by the Spirit the plague of their own hearts can possibly know it. How few there are who appear to possess vital religion in their souls! How few choose Christ with His cross! The great mass of professors are aiming to separate them. They would sincerely bear the name of Christ, and be accounted as the followers of Christ, and do something for the cause of Christ; but they hide His cross, they are ashamed of His cross, they shrink from His cross. Christ and His outward lowliness, Christ and His poverty, Christ and His humiliation, Christ and the world's despising, form no part of their creed nor their religion. But Christ and the world, Christ and the popular opinion, Christ and the slavery of sin, Christ and an unhumbled spirit, Christ and a love of money, and ease, and self-indulgence, make up the religion of vast numbers who yet profess and call themselves Christians. Awful fact! How forcibly does it remind us of the solemn words of Jesus, "Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Let us, in view of this solemn truth, search our hearts, and ask the searching of God's Spirit; and in ascertaining the real state of our souls, let us take nothing for granted, rest not in past experience, nor in gifts, nor usefulness, but be satisfied only with the present, inward witness of the Holy Spirit.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God." James 4:7
Submission to the Divine will is a great advance in holiness; and this is mainly and effectually attained through sanctified chastisement. In prosperity, how full are we of self-sufficiency! When the Lord asks our obedience, we give Him our counsel. But when He sends the rod, and by the accompanying grace of His Spirit sanctifies its stroke, we learn in what true obedience consists. It was in this school our blessed Lord Himself was taught. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." He learned to obey in suffering- to bring His will in suffering into complete submission to His Father's will. God has not in His family such obedient children as those who, "passing under the rod," are "brought into the bond of the covenant." Oh, what a high Christian attainment is submission to the will of God! The noblest grace attainable upon earth is it. When our Lord taught His disciples to pray to the Father for the spread of holiness, He embodied the petition, in these words, "Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." The universal and complete holiness of heaven springs from the universal and complete perfection in which the will of God is done by angels and glorified spirits. In proportion as the Divine will prevails upon earth, holiness will reign. And, oh, what a beauteous earth and what a blissful world would this be, were the will of God done by every creature! In the new earth, in which will dwell righteousness, it will be so. The original harmony of this fallen universe will then be restored, its pristine beauty recovered, and God, in the person of His Son, will once more reign over, and walk in the midst of, a people whose will shall be but the reflection of His own. Thus to approximate to the Divine will is to assimilate with the Divine holiness. What God will, how God will, and when God will, defines the rule which should govern all the conduct and limit all the desires of the child of God. The instant the overwhelmed heart is brought into this state, the afflicted believer has planted his feet upon the Rock that is higher than he. All is peace, all is composure, because all is submission to the will of God. "The Lord reigns" is the truth whose all-commanding yet gentle whisper has stilled the tempest and calmed the waves. In its intense anxiety that the Divine will might be done, the chastened soul is but breathing after deeper holiness; and every fervent desire for the attainment of holiness is holiness already attained. Blessed chastening of love, that produces in this world, so distant and uncongenial, the buds and blossoms and fruits of heaven! A richer fruit grows not within the Paradise of God than Holiness. And yet, in the experience of a chastened believer, bleeding under the rod of his heavenly Father, there may be obtained such victories over sin, such purification of heart, such meekness of spirit, such Christ-like conformity, and such a discipline of the will, as to make him a rich "partaker of the Divine holiness."
"Now the just shall live by faith." Hebrews 10:38
We cannot too frequently nor too deeply study the profound meaning of these words. God will have his child perpetually looking to, leaning upon, and receiving from Him. At present we are but in an immature state. We are not, therefore, in a condition to be trusted with grace for the future. Improvident and careless, we would soon squander and exhaust our resources; and when the emergency came, we should find our selves unprepared to meet it. The Lord, in wisdom and love, keeps all our grace in His own hands, and deals it out just as our circumstances demand. Oh, who that knows his own heart, and the heart of Christ, would not desire that all his supply should be in God, and not in himself? Who, so to speak, would wish to be his own spiritual treasurer? Who that knows the blessedness of a life of faith, the sweetness of going to God in everything, and for everything, would wish to transfer his mercies from Christ's keeping to his own, or wish to hold in the present the supply of the future? Be satisfied, dear reader, to walk by faith, and not by sight. You have a full Christ to draw from, and a faithful God to look to. You have a "covenant ordered in all things and sure," and the precious promise, "As your days, so shall your strength be," to lean confidently upon all your journey through. Be content, then, to be poor and dependent. Be willing to travel on empty-handed, seeing God's heart opened, and Christ's hand outstretched to supply your daily bread. Oh! it is sweet to be a dependent creature upon God- to hang upon a loving Father- to live as a poor, needy sinner, day by day, moment by moment, upon Jesus- to trace God in ten thousand ways- to mark His wisdom here, His condescension there- now His love, and then His faithfulness, all combining and exerted for our good- truly it is the most holy and blessed life upon earth. Why should we, then, shrink from any trial, or flee from any duty, or turn aside from any cross, since for that trial, and for that duty, and for that cross, Jesus has provided its required and appropriate grace? You are perhaps exclaiming, "Trouble is near!" Well, be it so. So also Divine grace is near- and strength is near - and counsel is near- and deliverance is near- and Jesus is near- and God is near- and a throne of grace is near; therefore, why must you fear, though trouble be near? "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love." John 15:9
What sweet repose is here for the saints of God. Does God rest in His love? then the believer in Jesus may rest in it too. Does Infinity, find repose here? then may a poor finite creature. Does Immanuel rest in it? then may I, resting in Immanuel. If it is enough for Jehovah, surely, it is enough for the people of Jehovah. Our dear Lord's exhortations harmonize with this truth, "Abide in me;" "Continue in my love." Beloved reader, come and rest in this love- Jesus invites you to its blessed repose. Are you weary, tossed with tempest? Is there sadness in your spirit, sorrow in your heart, a cloud upon your mind? Is some crystal cistern broken, some fragrant flower withered, some fond and pleasant mercy gone? "Come," says Jesus, "and rest in my love- rest in the reality of my love- rest in the depth of my love- rest in the tenderness of my love- rest in the deathlessness of my love." Oh blessed rest! Poor, heart-broken sinner, weeping penitent, weary, laboring soul! what do you need? Mercy? it is in Christ. Forgiveness? it is in Christ. Acceptance? it is in Christ. The silencing power of love? it is in Christ. A reconciled Father, a pacified God? He is in Christ. All that you need is in Christ. Draw near, then, and rest in His love. The Father rests in Jesus, His justice rests in Jesus, His holiness rests in Jesus, His truth rests in Jesus, His power rests in Jesus- and in Jesus you too may rest! God rests in His love towards you, because He rests in the Son of His love. And in the Son of His love your weary, jaded, trembling spirit may find full and eternal repose. And whatever your present circumstances are, be the severity of your Father's dealings what it may, ever remember that He still rests in His love. Judging of Him by providences rather than by promises, your faith may become unhinged from this truth. But the standard by which you are to form your views of God's character is the same by which you are to judge your own- His word. That word declares that He rests in His love, that He now rests in it, that He rests in it at the present time, and, therefore, He rests in it at the moment that His providences in your history are the darkest and most lowering. When to your view all things seem against you- when even God himself seems against you- then is He resting with infinite satisfaction and delight in the love with which He has loved you from everlasting. And when all the mighty wheels of His providence are rapidly revolving, when event follows event, and convulsion succeeds convulsion- when your spirit is agitated, and your heart is alarmed, and your whole soul is awe-struck and appalled at the wonder-workings of His power, then is God calmly, serenely, resting in His love towards you, unmoved, unruffled, unbeclouded by the things which convulse the universe.
"The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6
How shall we account for the sufferings of Christ, which were intense, and mysterious, if not on the ground of their vicarious character? Those sufferings were intense in the extreme. There was a severity in those who, if not required by Divine justice, would be perfectly unaccountable. Heaven, earth, and hell, all were in league against Him. Survey His eventful history- mark every step which He took from Bethlehem to Calvary; and what do we learn of His sufferings, but that they were of the most extraordinary and intense character. His enemies, like dogs of war, were let loose upon Him. His professed followers themselves stood aghast at the scenes through which their Lord was passing- one betraying Him, another denying Him, and all, in the hour of His extremity, forsaking Him. Is it any wonder that, in the anguish of His soul, His suffering humanity should exclaim, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." In that awful moment, all the waves and billows of God's wrath, due to the sins of His people, were passing over Him. The Father, the last resource of sympathy, veiled His face, and withdrew from Him His sensible presence; and on the cross, draining the cup of sorrow, He fulfilled the prophecy, which spoke of Him- "I have trodden the wine press alone; and of the people there were none with me." His sufferings, too, were mysterious. Why a holy, harmless being, whose whole life had been one act of unparalleled beneficence, should be doomed to persecution so severe, to sufferings so acute, and to a death so painful and ignominious, the denier of the atonement must be embarrassed to account. But the doctrine of a vicarious sacrifice explains it all, and presents the only key to the mystery. "He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." All the mystery now is gone. He was "made sin for us." He was "made a curse for us." He bore the sin, and consequently the penalty of sin. Had we been left, Christian reader, to bear our sins, we must inevitably have borne alone the punishment of our sins. But Jesus took upon Him our sins. For this, He became a party in the covenant of redemption; for this, He assumed our nature; for this, He sorrowed in Gethsemane; for this, the law of God exacted its utmost claim; and for this, the justice of God inflicted the utmost penalty. Oh, what a truth is this! The Son of God offering Himself up a sacrifice for sin! He who knew no sin- who was holy, harmless, and undefiled- not one thought of evil in His heart, yet made sin, or a sin-offering! Oh the greatness of the thought! If God had not Himself declared it, we could not have believed it, though an angel's tongue had announced it. God Himself must proclaim it; and because He has so proclaimed it, we believe it. And God alone can write it upon the heart.
"Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord." Hosea 6:3
True faith in God supposes him reconciled in Christ. This is the ground-work of all holy, humble converse with God. But here we must be cautious of placing a limit, as too many do. It is a great display of sovereign grace that we should have peace with God. God reconciled to us in Jesus is, of all divine and experimental truths, the greatest. Until this is experienced, we can affirm of no individual that he is safe for eternity. Yet, alas! what numbers reject this truth, and still dream on of heaven! But, great as is this grace, it is not less our mercy to be advancing, on the ground of assured peace, to more matured attainments in universal holiness. We are, at best, but dull scholars in the science of spiritual arithmetic. We have imperfectly learned one of its first rules, that of adding grace to grace. "Giving all diligence," exhorts the apostle, "add to your faith virtue," etc. Peace through the atoning blood being obtained, the movement is to be progressive, the course onward; each day, if possible, augmenting the measure of our grace, and adding to the number of the Spirit's graces. Reconciliation with God is but the starting-post in the divine life, not the finish-line; it is the commencement, and not the end, of our course. In other words, vast numbers rest in their first reception of Christ. They are hopefully converted, they unite themselves with a particular section of the Church of God, and settle down under an attached ministry. But here they seem to abide. There is no advance, no progress, no forgetting of the things that are behind, pressing upwards to higher rounds in the glorious ladder, which a gracious Father has let down out of heaven, by which we may ascend to heaven. Content with having placed the foot upon the first step, there they remain. There is no "following on to know the Lord." And yet why has the Lord removed the burden from the shoulder, but that we might mount upward? Why has He broken the chains from our feet, but that we may go forward? Thus are we constantly forgetting that the cross is our starting-point in our race, and yet ever to be kept in view- while holiness, breathed after upon earth, and in some blessed degree attained, but perfected in heaven, is our bright and certain goal.
"Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full." John 16:24
A most powerful incentive to prayer is found in a close and realizing view of the atoning blood. What encouragement does it present to this blessed and holy life of communion with God! the atoning blood!- the mercy-seat sprinkled over!- the High Priest before the throne!- the cloud of incense constantly ascending!- the Father well pleased! What can more freely invite the soul that pants for close and holy communion with God? And when the atoning blood is realized upon the conscience, when pardon and acceptance are sealed upon the heart by the Eternal Spirit, oh, then what a persuasion to draw near the throne of grace has the believer in Christ! Then, there is no consciousness of guilt to keep the believer back; no dread of God; no trembling apprehensions of a repulse. God is viewed through the cross as reconciled, and as standing in the endeared relationship, and wearing the inviting smile of a Father. With such an altar, such a High Priest, such atoning blood, and such a reconciled God, what an element should prayer be to a believer in Christ! Let the soul, depressed, burdened, tried, tempted, as it may be, draw near the mercy-seat: God delights to hear, delights to answer. Taking in the hand the atoning blood, pleading the infinite merit of Christ- reminding the Father of what His Son has accomplished, of His own gracious promise to receive and favorably answer the petition endorsed with the name and presented in behalf of that Son- the feeblest child of God, the most disconsolate, the most burdened, may approach and open all the heart to a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. Let the atoning blood be strenuously pleaded, let the precious and infinite merit of Christ be fully urged, and the blessing petitioned for will be obtained. May not this be assigned as a reason why so few of our petitions are answered, why so little blessing is obtained- the faint pleading of the atoning blood? There is so feeble a recognition of the blessed way of access, so little wrestling with the precious blood, so little looking by faith to the cross, the dear name of Immanuel so seldom urged, and when urged so coldly mentioned- oh, is it any marvel that our prayers return to us unanswered, the petition ungranted, the draft on the full treasury of His love unhonored? The Father loves to be reminded of His beloved Son; the very breathing of the name to Him is music; the very waving of the censer of infinite merits to Him is fragrant. He delights to be pressed with this plea; it is a plea at all times prevalent; it is a plea He cannot reject; it glorifies Himself, honors His Son, while it enriches him who urges it. And, oh, in the absence of all other pleas, what a mercy to come with a plea like this! Who can fully estimate it? No plea has the poor believer springing from himself: he searches, but nothing can he find on which to rest a claim; all within is vile, all without is marred by sin; unfaithfulness, ingratitude, departure do but make up the history of the day. But in Christ he sees that which he can urge, and in urging which God will hear and answer.
"Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." Isaiah 40:31
We may here meet a question which has often been asked by those who are conscious of a relapsed state of soul- "Am I still to be found in spiritual duties and enjoyments while sensible of a backsliding state of heart from God?" To this we reply- The warrant of a Christian's duty is not the measure of his grace, but the command of his God. If this be so- and we have no reason to question its truth- then, be your state of soul low as it may, you are bound to meet all those obligations and to discharge all those duties which a profession of Christ enjoins, irrespective of the spiritual and mental fluctuations to which the soul is always exposed. Unless aware of his design, Satan will here obtain a great advantage over you. Assuming the form of an angel of light, and with angelic gentleness and plausibility, he will suggest that your frame of soul is too torpid and lifeless and dull to draw near to God; that your affections are too frigid, your love too congealed, your heart too carnal, your mind too groveling, your pursuits too earthly, your backslidings too great, your neglects too many to take to Christ. He will hold up to view the folly, the hypocrisy, and the inconsistency of being found in the employment and use of holy and spiritual duties, while your soul thus cleaves to the dust. But listen not to his false suggestions, and heed not his sophistical reasoning, no, not for a moment. It is only in the way of waiting upon God that you will be recovered from the lapsed state of your soul. In the way of meditation, of confession, of tears, of prayer, you may yet rise from the dust, and with bolder pinion, and richer plumage, and sweeter song, soar to the gate of heaven, and return again, scattering around you its blessings, and reflecting its glory. Oh! go to Jesus, then, however low and discouraging your spiritual state may be, and relax not a single means of grace.
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me." Psalm 138:7
Contemplate the Psalmist's circumstances "Walking in the midst of trouble." It was no new and untrodden path along which he was pursuing his way to God. The foot-print, sometimes stained with blood, always moistened with tears- of many a suffering pilgrim might be portrayed in that way, from the time that Abel, the primeval martyr, laid the first bleeding brow that ever reposed upon the bosom of Jesus. And yet how often does trial overtake the believer, as "though some strange thing had happened to him"! That at the peculiar nature of an affliction a Christian man should be startled and alarmed, would create no surprise; but that he should be startled at the trial itself, as if he alone- the only one of the family- were exempted from the discipline of the covenant, and had no interest in the Savior's declaration, "In the world you shall have tribulation," might well astonish us. But David's experience is that of many of the spiritual seed of David. His words seem to imply, continuous trial: "I walk in the midst of trouble." With how many travelers to the celestial city it is thus! They seem never to be without trial. They know no cessation, they obtain no repose, they experience no rest. The foam of one mountain billow has scarcely broken and died upon the shore, before another follows in its wake- "Deep calls unto deep." Is it the trial of sickness? the darkened chamber, scarcely ever illumined with one cheering ray of light, the bed of suffering, seldom offering one moment's real repose, the couch of weariness, rarely left, are vivid pictures of trial, drawn from real life, needing no coloring of the fancy to heighten or exaggerate. Is it domestic trial? What scenes of incessant chafings and anxieties, turmoils and sources of bitterness, do some families present; trouble seems never to absent itself from the little circle. Yes, it is through a series of trials that many of Christ's followers are called to travel. The loss of earthly substance may be followed by the decay of health, and this succeeded perhaps by that which, of all afflictions, the most deeply pierces and lacerates the heart, and for a season covers every scene with the dark pall of woe- the desolation of death. Thus the believer ever journeys along a path paved with sorrow, and hemmed in by trial. Well, be it so! We do not speak of it complainingly; God forbid! We do not arraign the wisdom, nor doubt the mercy, nor impeach the truth of Him who has drawn every line of that path, who has paved every step of that way, and who knows its history from the end to the beginning. Why should our heart fret against the Lord? Why should we weary at the way? It is the ordained way- it is the right way- it is the Lord's way; and it is the way to a city of habitation, where the soul and body- the companions of the weary pilgrimage- will together sweetly and eternally rest. Then all trouble ceases; then all conflict terminates. Emerging from the gloom and labyrinth of the wilderness, the released spirit finds itself at home, the inhabitant of a world of which it is said, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."
"My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." Matthew 26:38
The spiritual troubles which encompass the Christian are the deepest and the severest of all his trials. What, in comparison, are others? Our Lord keenly felt this when He uttered that affecting exclamation, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour but for this cause came I unto this hour." What to Him- galling and agonizing as they were- what to Him the smiting, and the scourging, and the spitting, and the excruciating torture, compared with the sword which was now entering His soul- the mental conflict and spiritual sorrow which, in the hour of atonement, amazed, staggered, and overwhelmed Him? Listen again to His affecting cry: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." Then, withdrawing Himself from His disciples- for the human sympathy upon which He had relied in anticipation of the hour of suffering failed Him now- retiring from man, He flung Himself upon the bosom of God, and kneeling down, He prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!" Such, my soul, was the conflict which your Savior endured for you! Partakers of Christ's sufferings, all true believers are in a measure acquainted with some of those soul troubles which thus overwhelmed the Son of God. The suspensions of Divine consolation- the hidings of God's countenance- the assaults of Satan- the contact and conflict with sin- are bitter ingredients in that cup of spiritual sorrow of which they are sometimes called deeply to drink. Are you, beloved, walking in the midst of trouble? Think not that you are alone. May your eye of faith be "anointed with fresh eye-salve," to see One walking side by side with you, the same who walked with the three children through the fiery furnace, "whose form is like the Son of God." Yes! Jesus is with you in your trial. Christ is with you in your trouble. The path, however strait, is not so narrow that your Lord cannot tread it with you, side by side. Your way is not so intricate that He cannot enable you to thread your steps through the labyrinth. There is room enough for you and Christ to walk together. He is with you; though, like the two disciples journeying in mournful communion one with the other to Emmaus, your eyes may be so blurred that you see Him not, yet is He traveling with you along that sad and mournful, that lone and pensive path. Christ is in your adversity- Christ is in your cross- Christ is in your burden- Christ is in your suffering- Christ is in your persecution- Christ is m your sickness- yes, Christ is at your side every step you take, and He will conduct you safely to your Father's house. Though you walk in the midst of trouble, He will revive you.
"Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." Psalm 50:15
It is in the time of trouble that we learn to pray with new power. We become more thoroughly acquainted with the divine nature and the omnipotent energy of prayer. We learn what our resources, as the true sons of Israel, are. Many are then led to pray who never prayed before. "Lord, in trouble have they visited You, they poured out a prayer when Your chastening was upon them." Then it is the proud spirit yields; the knee, that never bent before, bends now, and the terrified soul cries out unto Him whose chastening is upon it. The slumbering Christian, too, is awakened to call upon God. Then it is he finds at what a distance he had been living from God. Then he discovers his true position- the real state of his soul- touching prayer. Thus aroused, like the slumbering prophet, by a voice, and startled by a rebuke issuing from a quarter he would least have suspected- "What meanest you, O sleeper? arise and call upon your God!"- he awakes, and finds himself in a storm, threatening instant destruction. To what does he then betake himself? David shall answer: "I give myself unto prayer." And oh, how, eloquent is then the voice of the wrestling believer! Never did the fugitive prophet "pray unto the Lord his God" as when walking in the midst of trouble. "I cried by reason of my affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and You heard my voice. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto You, into Your holy temple." In this way the Lord revives the spirit of prayer within us. And oh, what words can describe the blessedness of prayer in trial!- the preciousness of the privilege of having a God to go to, a Father to flee to in trouble! To bring you more deeply and personally into the experience of this, dear tried Christian, the Lord your God is dealing with you now. O beloved, betake yourself unto prayer! You shall indeed find it the outlet of all sorrow, and the inlet of all joy. Welcome the trouble that thus revives you. Receive with meekness of spirit, yes, with gladness of heart, the discipline, however humbling, that throws you upon God- yes, that severs you from all creatures, and that shuts you up to Him alone. That discipline, painful as it is, springs from love. In love that trouble is sent, in love that cross is permitted, in love that cup is given, in love that rod is used- it is to set you upon the work of prayer. What are these frowns of your Father, what these hidings of your Savior, what these withholdings of the Spirit, but to allure you within the holiest, there to find the throne of grace? "I will go," says the Lord, "and return to my place, until they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early."
"You meet him that rejoices and works righteousness, those that remember you in your ways." Isaiah 64:5
Let us not fail to learn the secret of receiving much from Christ- even the free dispensing abroad of what we have already received. Be assured of this, that he will receive the most from God who does the most for God: "The diligent soul shall be made fat. He becomes poor that deals with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent makes rich. There is that scatters, and yet increases." This is God's law, and He will never repeal it; His promise, and He will ever and in all cases make it good. Go forth, believer in Christ, and let your beams of light irradiate, let your streams of grace be dispersed abroad; live for God, suffer for Christ, witness for the truth, and labor for man. Be such a depository of this living and life-giving treasure, that others, less favored than yourself, instructed, guided, and strengthened by your wisdom, experience, and grace, may proceed on their way, glorifying God for the grace given to you. Oh, to have the word of God dwelling in us so richly, and our hearts so intensely glowing with the love of Christ, as to be ever ready, to open our lips for God- a well always full and running over. This, then, is the secret of augmenting our stores, even by scattering them- of replenishing our resources, even by exhausting them. Who, we repeat the question, has ever become impoverished by giving and laborings for God? Where lives the Christian steward whose fidelity to his Master's interest has compromised the welfare of his own? Where is the Christian man who, with cheerful munificence, has consecrated his intellectual wealth or his temporal wealth to advance the truth and kingdom of Jesus, whom Christ has not reimbursed a thousand-fold? Where is the believer in Jesus who has endured reproach and suffering, patiently and silently, for conscience' sake, for truth's sake, for Christ's sake, who has not infinitely gained in the rest which he has found in God? Where is the active Christian, who, zealously laboring to dispense abroad the life-giving waters, has not felt, in the solemn retirement and calm repose of his closet, when pouring out his sorrow into the bosom of his Savior, or in holding close and holy communion with his God, the springing up into his soul of a hidden well of peace, and joy, and love, which has more than restored the energies he has exhausted, and recompensed him for the sacrifice which he has made? God meets His people in all their works of faith and labors of love. They are never alone. He meets them in the path of duty and of trial- both in doing and in suffering His will. He meets them, when embarrassed; with counsel; He meets them, when assailed, with protection; He meets them, when exhausted, with strength; He meets them, when faint, with cordials. If we take up Christ's cross upon our shoulder, Christ will take both us and our cross up in His arms. If we bow down our neck to His yoke, and bend low our back to His burden, we shall find our rest in both.
"But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing takes you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him." 1 John 2:27
"The Lord's anointed" is the expressive and appropriate designation of all the Lord's people. This anointing it is that marks them as a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people." It is the Lord's peculiar mark upon those who distinguishes and designates them as His own. All who are strangers to this anointing are strangers to the grace of God and the calling of the Holy Spirit. There may be much spiritual light in the judgment, and even an open profession of religion before the world, added to which there shall be something of Jehu's "zeal for the Lord;" and yet that anointing of the Holy Spirit be still lacking, apart from which all intellectual illumination, and outward profession, and party zeal, pass for nothing with a heart searching God. As the proper signification of the endeared name, Christ, is anointed, so the true signification of the honored appellation, Christian, points us to the anointing, of which all who have union with Christ personally share. I believe the remark to be as solemn as it is true, that eternity will only fully unfold the amount of evil that has sprung from calling those Christians who call themselves Christians, without any valid title to the high, holy, and distinguished appellation. How imperfectly are men in general aware of the deep, the significant, the spiritual import of the term! They think not, they know not, that a Christian is one who partakes, in His renewing, sanctifying grace, of that same Divine Holy Spirit with which Christ was anointed of the Father for His great work. The effects of this anointing are what might be expected from a cause so glorious. It beautifies the soul. It is that anointing spoken of by the Psalmist: "And oil to make his face to shine." Therefore it is called the "beauties of holiness." How does a man's face shine- how is his countenance lighted up- when the joy of the Lord is his strength, when the spirit of adoption is in his soul, when the love of God is shed abroad in his heart! It gladdens too. Therefore it is called the "oil of joy" and "the oil of gladness." It causes the heart to sing in its deep sorrows, imparts the "garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness," and fills the soul with the glory of that "kingdom which consists not in foods and in drinks, but in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Another effect springing from this anointing is the deep teaching it imparts- "You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things." Such are some of the effects of this holy anointing. It beautifies, gladdens, and teaches.
"I shall be anointed with fresh oil." Psalm 92:10
That the Lord re-anoints His people, who can doubt? Alas for them, if He did not! The ample provision which He has made for the exigence proves it. There is more of the precious oil in the sacred vessel! Oh blessed, holy, comforting truth to those who, mournfully conscious of their loss, are earnestly desirous for their recovery. In the Lord Jesus Christ all fulness of anointing dwells. "With Him is the fulness of the Spirit." He is prepared to impart more grace to those who have lost grace, or who to their present state desire to add an increase. In the renewed quickening of the Spirit, the re-anointing is received. "Quicken me!" was the reiterated prayer of David. What! was he not already a quickened soul? Undoubtedly. Yet, feeling the need of a renewed quickening, he earnestly importunes for it: "Quicken me in Your truth, through Your judgments, by Your precepts: only quicken me- for this my soul pants." And while the world was asking, "Who will show us any good?" the fervent breathing of this anointed priest of God was, "Quicken me, O Lord, for Your name's sake." Oh, seek this renewed quickening. New supplies of grace from Christ are implied in this fresh anointing. New grace- to subdue new corruptions, perpetually rising to the surface; to meet new temptations, through the ever-shifting ways of the subtle enemy; to overcome new difficulties, perpetually occurring in the path to heaven; and to bear up under new trials, ever transpiring in a world of tribulation. The renewed joys and comforts of the Holy Spirit are also found in the fresh anointing. The joys which had evaporated are replaced by others; the peace which had been interrupted flows back again; consolations, which had fled, are restored; and confidence in God, which seemed shaken, is once more established in the soul. Do not be content with the old anointing. It is essential to a more holy and happy life, it is essential to a peaceful and cloudless death, that you seek to be anointed with fresh oil. Do not be satisfied with past experiences. You may at one time have possessed the clear witness of the Spirit; you may have enjoyed the love of God in your heart; you many have lived so near to Christ as to have found "Wisdom's ways, ways of pleasantness, and her paths, paths of peace:" but the old anointing ceases to afford you now the high delight which you once experienced. Seek, then, the fresh anointing of the Spirit. Seek to have a new revelation of Christ to your soul. Seek the renewed application of His precious blood to your conscience. Oh, seek the fresh oil! There is a fresh supply in Christ; a fresh supply in the Spirit; a fresh supply in the heart of God; a fresh supply in the covenant of grace. Jesus is prepared to pour it upon your soul more abundantly. The Holy Spirit is prepared to lead you to the source where this costly treasure dwells. A vessel of clay though you are- your capacity small- your unworthiness great- yet is the Triune God ready to recognize your exalted dignity and rank as a king and a priest, by shedding more copiously than ever the oil of gladness upon your head. Let aged Christians especially look to the state of their souls, and seek this renewed anointing. In nearing the end of their journey, in looking into their graves, and beyond them, to the meeting with their God and Savior, they will need to be anointed with fresh oil. One drop- oh, how will it insinuate itself through the whole inner life, diffusing energy and might!- the soul thus renewing its strength, and composing its ruffled pinions for its heavenly flight. Come, pilgrim of many a weary stage! come, soldier of many a hard-fought battle! come, voyager of many a storm and tempest, and sit down at the Savior's feet, and receive of the fresh oil! Come, gather up the trailing garments, shake off the gathered dust from your sandals, wipe the sweat from your brow, and rest awhile upon the bosom of your Lord, while with fresh oil He anoints you for your burial. Is it not time for you to give up this poor world's pursuit, and lay aside in some measure its needless anxiety and care, and allow a holy pause, a solemn calm, to intervene- before you unclasp your helmet, lay down your staff, and are gathered to your fathers?
"For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:26
It is delightful to trace the different exhibitions of faith which the Holy Spirit has presented to our view in His own Word. And he seems to have thus spread them out before us, that the ever varied and varying circumstances of the saints of God may be adequately met. In some sections of His Word, He has presented to our view sturdy characters, impressed with the lineaments of a strong, gigantic faith. For example that was strong faith in the centurion, when he said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." That was great faith exhibited in the case of the woman of Canaan, who, at the apparent repulse of the blessed Lord, would take no denial, but met His seeming objection by saying, "Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is your faith: be it unto you even as you will." That, too, was strong faith in Abraham, who could take his son, his only, son, his son whom he loved, and offer him up at God's bidding. And, to mention no more, that was strong, unwavering faith in Job, who could say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." But, on the other hand, the Holy Spirit presents to the view some of the weakest exhibitions of faith, in order that no dear child of God, reposing by simple reliance on Christ, might despair. That was feeble faith which the leper exercised when he said, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." Here was no doubting of Christ's ability- the only point He seemed to question was His willingness to cleanse him. That was faith of the same feeble character, exercised by the father who brought his child possessed of a dumb spirit to Jesus, to be dispossessed, with the request thus couched- "If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." In this case, Christ's willingness was fully believed, His ability only doubted; and yet, in both cases, the one that doubted His willingness, and the other that doubted His ability, Christ manifested His compassion and answered their requests. Let no anxious, seeking soul, then, hang back from Jesus, because of the weakness of its faith. It may be small faith; it may be small in its degree, and weak in its exhibition; yet it is "precious faith,"- yes, "like precious faith" with Abraham and Job, and all the prophets and apostles. If it be faith, however small, it yet is "the faith of God's elect;" it is of the mighty operation of the Holy Spirit, and though feeble, yet, if it directs its eye out of and off of itself, simply to Jesus, that single glance shall sweep the ocean fulness of His love in the soul.
"This do in remembrance of me." Luke 22:19
To the soul hungering and thirsting for the Lord Jesus in the ordinance, Jesus presents Himself. He draws back the shutter, opens the window, stands within it, and looks forth upon His people, clustering around His table, desiring to remember His love. "Precious Jesus!" is the meditation of a soul thus looking for its Beloved, "I have come to Your ordinance invited by Your love, drawn by Your Spirit; but what is it to my soul without You? Your minister may open this institution with clearness and power, but if You do not manifest Yourself, to break and heal my heart- if I don't catch one glimpse of You, my Lord, it is no ordinance of grace or sweetness to my soul. I want by faith to see You in the baptism of Your sufferings, to feed upon Your flesh, and to drink of Your blood. I want to enjoy communion with You. You know, Lord, the workings of my heart; You know that this is the great desire of my soul, that I might enjoy fellowship with Christ. Oh, that I might have more of Christ, that I might meet with Christ, that I might have some further manifestation of Christ, and that I might have my soul closer knit to Christ. I come with thirsting after Jesus, knowing my infinite need of Him, and His infinite excellency and fulness to meet my case. My soul does famish and perish without Christ; but in the enjoyment of Christ there is a sufficiency for the satisfying of my soul. That which I have had of Christ, sometimes in the word, and sometimes in prayer, has been sweet unto my taste; but I look for closer communion, for a clearer manifestation of Christ here, for this is the great "communion of the body and blood of Jesus." Behold, Lord, I approach these windows of Your house, a poor, unworthy, backsliding child, tried and tempted; yet just as I am, clear Lord, I come. I dare not, I cannot, stay away from You, Divine loadstone of my heart, precious magnet of my soul! Draw me, and then I will run after You; Show Yourself in the window, and, overcome with Your beauty and Your love, I exclaim, "Turn away Your eyes from me, for they have overcome me." Blessed Spirit! I have been taught to believe that You will take of the things of Jesus, and show them unto me. Open the window of this ordinance, and let me behold my soul's Beloved standing within it. I cannot live, I cannot die, without Him. Living or dying I must have Christ. "I am any Beloved's, and His desire is towards me;" and truly my soul's desire is towards Him. There is to my soul no love like Christ's love. There is no voice like Christ's voice. There is no sympathy like Christ's sympathy. There is no friend like this Friend; there is no Christ like my Christ. The window is open! "The voice of my Beloved! behold, He comes, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills." He looks forth at the window; and lively faith and ardent love, sweet contrition and holy joy, possess and overwhelm my soul!
"The God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus." Hebrews 13:20
How beautifully the apostle associates the two blessings! He is now truly the "God of peace" - the pacified God, the reconciled Father; and the evidence of it is His raising up His dear Son from the grave. Thus what a bright view does this truth unfold to us of God! When we retire within ourselves, we see much to engender dark views of, and distrustful feelings towards, Him. But when faith travels to the grave of Jesus, and we see it empty, we have such an overwhelming evidence of the perfect reconciliation of God, of His thoughts of peace towards us, that instantly faith triumphs, and all our gloomy, trembling apprehensions of His character vanish and disappear. He is the "God of peace," because Jesus is a risen Savior. And in proportion as you lay hold by faith of the resurrection-life of Christ, you will have that pillar to sustain you upon which rests the whole fabric of salvation. The peace of God will fill your heart, as you know from experience the power of the Lord's resurrection in your soul. The power of Christ's resurrection, in fact, lies in a sense of pardoned sin, in our apprehension of complete justification, in the living hope of eternal glory. Jesus saves to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him, because he is a risen and a living Savior, and ever lives to make intercession in behalf of all His people. Oh, deal believingly with a risen Christ! The same resurrection-power which brought back to life again the Head of the Church is exerted in effecting the spiritual resurrection of the Church itself. The true believer is already risen. He was once dead in sin, and entombed in the grave of his iniquities. But a power- the same which awoke the death-slumber of Lazarus- has darted from the tomb of Jesus, and has quickened Him to a new and a deathless life. Oh, were we more directly to trace the mighty energy of the Eternal Spirit in our souls, raising us from the region of death to life and immortality, to that stupendous fact of redemption- the resurrection of Christ from the dead- how would it exalt our views of its importance, and fill our souls with its glory! What must be the power of our Lord's resurrection, that can even now awake the profoundest sleep of spiritual death! When the Spirit of God puts forth His own grace to raise a soul from the grave of sin, oh, forget not it is in virtue of a risen, living Savior. Despair not of the spiritual life of any, though they may have laid in the grave so long as well near to have quenched all hope of their conversion, since Christ has risen from the dead, and is alive, to give life in answer to the prayer of faith. "The second Adam is a quickening Spirit."
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection." Philippians 3:10
Of the downward tendency of our hearts we are, alas! but too conscious. We need an antagonistic principle- something to counteract the overworking influence of an ungodly world. Where shall we meet with it? We answer, in the power of Christ's resurrection, felt, realized, and experienced in the soul. This is the argument of Paul: "You are a risen people, risen in union with Christ. If this be so, then seek after heavenly mindedness, setting your affections on things above." What a heaven-attracting power, then, has this glorious truth! What is Christ? He is alive. Where is Christ? He is in heaven, at the right hand of God, as my head- my representative- my forerunner- my treasure- my all. Then, let me rise! Shall not my affections soar to their best beloved? Shall not my heart be where its treasure is? Shall I set my mind upon things on the earth, when my Lord rose out of the earth, and ascended above the earth, and bids me rise and follow Him in faith, in spirit, and in love, until He calls me to come away to Him entirely, that I may be ever with Him and behold His glory? If I am indeed risen with Christ, then let me evidence it by my increasing spiritual-mindedness. Christ, who is my life, is in heaven- why should I needlessly be buried in the earth? Why allow- as I appear to do- that there is an object upon earth whose claims to my love are paramount, whose beauty to my eye is greater, whose attraction to my soul is stronger, than my risen, ascended, and glorified Lord? Is there upon earth one who loves me as Jesus loves me? Is there one who has done for me what Jesus has done? Is there one who is doing for me now what Jesus is doing? Is there one who is to me such a friend, such a brother, such a counselor as Jesus? No, not one! Then, why should not my thoughts be more with Him? Why should not my heart cling closer to Him? Why this vagrancy of mind, this truancy of affection, this wandering of desire; why this forgetfulness, coldness, and cleaving to earth, when my Lord is risen, and I am professedly risen with Him? Oh, to feel more sensibly, more deeply; more constantly the power of His resurrection! Lord! I detect my heart settling down on creature things- objects of sense and sin. My business is a snare- my domestic blessings are a snare- my friendships are a snare- my position is a snare- the too fond opinion which others entertain of me is a snare- my grace, my gifts, my usefulness, through the corruption of my heart, are snares. Lord, place beneath my soul the mighty lever of Your resurrection, and lift me towards Yourself! Oh, let me feel the earth-severing, the heaven-attracting power of Your resurrection-life! Having been buried with You by baptism into death, sincerely would I now rise with You, like as You were raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; that I might walk with You in newness of life, until I reach You in the realms of glory.
"For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." Hebrews 2:16.
Who are the people upon whom the heart of Jesus is set? They, are not angels; and yet He loves angels, because they are elect and holy; He loves them as the creatures of H