April 23: For His Name’s Sake

For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it has pleased the Lord to make you his people. I Samuel 12:22

GOD rests in the immutability of His love. It is a love that knows no change in its character, and no variation in its degree. There never has been a period in which the love of God in Christ towards His people has been more or less than it is at this moment. It must have been great before conversion, because then it was that He gave His only begotten Son, that they might live through Him. Then, too, it was He sent His own Spirit to regenerate their minds, and to make them new creatures in Christ Jesus. If He thus loved them before conversion, when they were yet sinners, do you think, dear reader, that His love can be less since conversion! Impossible!

God rests in the unchangeableness of His love towards His saints. Nothing can move Him from it. When He set His heart upon His people, He foresaw and foreknew all that was in them. He knew when they would revolt, when they would start aside like a broken bow, when they would startle and fall. He knew all their waywardness, folly, and ingratitude. “I knew that you would deal very treacherously,” says God. And yet He loved them.

Acquainted with their sin, does He not chasten it? and in chastening, does He withdraw His love from them? Listen to His own words—”If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.” What language can more strongly set forth the Lord’s determination to correct the departures of His people, while yet resting in the unchangeableness of His love towards them?

If God thus rests in His love towards us, how jealous ought we to be of the fervor and fidelity of our love to Him! Ah! how inconstant, wavering, and restless have been our affections! How little have we rested in our love to Christ! Other objects have attracted us away from it; we have been as changeable as the wind, and as unstable as the sea. But let us watch over this holy affection, apart from which God takes no pleasure in our sacrifices or services. Let it be our aim to yield up whatever rivals Christ. He sacrificed all for the love He bore us; let us sacrifice all that He requires for the love we bear Him.

Jesus is worthy—oh how worthy!—of our deepest, strongest, most self-consuming affection. And God, who gave us His Son, asks nothing in return but that we give Him our hearts. Let His love, then, constrain us to a more unreserved obedience, to a holier walk, to a more ardent, inseparable attachment to Him, to His people, and to His cause. Let us, in this day of easy and abounding profession—this day of papal encroachment and of popish imitation—this day of exaltation of human authority above the word of God—this day of error, of rebuke, and of blasphemy—this day of rapid and of excited action—this last solemn dispensation of the world, the events of which are rapidly ushering in the coming of the Son of man—let us, under the influence of more simple faith, more fervent love, and brightening hope, “go forth unto Jesus without the camp, bearing His reproach,” resting amid our conflict and our toil, where the Father rests—where the sinner rests—where we may rest—in Jesus.

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February 22: Examine Yourself

Let a man examine himself. 1 Cor. 11:28.

THERE is nothing clearer than this, that man must be a new creature if he would enjoy heaven. God could not make you happy, unless He made you like Himself. God must make you divine—He must give you new desires, new principles—He must create you “new creatures in Christ Jesus.” And you must ascertain whether this great change has passed over you.

The question must be—Have I “passed from death unto life”? Has my heart been smitten for sin—broken by the Holy Spirit? Have I come as a poor guilty sinner to the Lord Jesus Christ? Do not take all this for granted, but examine yourself, and see whether your heart has been laid upon God’s altar—whether it is a “broken and contrite heart, which He will not despise.”

Examine yourself to ascertain the existence of love to God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a most certain truth that “love is the fulfilling of the law.” Enmity against God is the great characteristic of the carnal mind—love to God is the great characteristic of the renewed mind. Do you feel that the name of Jesus creates a thrill of joy in your soul? Do you love God because He is holy, and because He is righteous? Are you in love with His government and with His law? Is it your delight and do you desire to be conformed to its teachings? Is it the supreme wish of your heart that God should rule you—and that you should submit to Him? Do you love Him for sending Jesus—His “unspeakable gift”? Do you love God as your Father—and because He sent His dear Son to bleed and die for you? Examine your own heart on these matters.

Examine your heart also, as to its governing principles. There are many deceitful things in the world. The wind is deceitful—the ocean is deceitful; but the most deceitful thing of all is the human heart. God searches the heart, and looks at all the principles by which we are governed; and no service is acceptable in His sight which does not spring from right motives. And oh, what self-seeking, what self-complacency, what desire for human approval is there in all our actions!

But ask yourself—Is my heart governed by love to the Lord Jesus, and by the fear of God? Can I unveil my heart in this transaction as under the eye of one who pierces my inmost thoughts? Can I appeal to God and say—Lord, sinful as I am, I desire to do all for Your glory, and to be governed only by love to You. Examine your heart then, and see what are the principles which actuate you. If they are false—oh cast them away, and ask God so to destroy the power of sin in you, and so to govern you by His love, that you shall only do that which is pleasing in His sight. No service can be acceptable, but that which springs from love to Him, and a simple desire for His glory.

But oh how acceptable, then, is even the smallest offering! It may be only the “widow’s mite”—or the “cup of cold water,”—but it is pleasing in the sight of God. It may be a service trying to yourself, and perhaps despised by others; but God sees your motives, and will accept your offering, if it springs from a principle in harmony with His will: “For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

February 16: Losing Ones Savor

But if the salt have lost its savor, with which shall it be salted? Matthew 5:13

THE indestructibility of the divine life in the soul of man, the imperishable nature of real grace, is a truth so deeply involving the holiness and happiness of the Christian, and—what is of still greater moment—the glory of God, that we would place it in the fore-ground of the statement we are about to advance. In the most searching investigation we would make into the state of religion in the soul, we would never forget, that where there exists real grace, that grace is as imperishable as the God who implanted it; that where true faith has led your trembling footsteps to Jesus, to receive Him as all your salvation, that faith is as deathless as its author.

But with this broad and emphatic statement of a great and holy truth, we must proceed to justify the affecting declaration of the Savior’s words, that the salt may lose its savor. In what sense will this apply to the spiritual life of the believer? Most clearly and indisputably, in the sense of a relapsed state of grace, and of its consequent loss of vigorous influence. The first symptom of this state which appears may be a change which the individual detects in his own soul as to his actual, personal enjoyment of religion.

Put to him the question—With all your observance of external religious duties and activities, what amount of spiritual enjoyment have you of vital religion in your soul? Have spiritual truths that holy savor and sweetness to your taste which indicate a healthy state of soul? Do you know habitually what close, filial, and confidential communion with God is?—the purifying power of confession?—the frequent sprinkling of the atoning blood?—the meek submissive temper of mind in trials sent by God, or under provocation received from man? Were he to reply to these close, searching interrogatories as a man honest with himself and to his God, he would perhaps unhesitatingly answer—”Alas! the salt has lost its savor! There was a period when all this was the happy experience of my soul. There was then a savor in the very name of Jesus—but it is gone! There was a reality in divine truth—but it is gone! There was an attraction in the throne of grace—but it is gone! I once walked filially with my Heavenly Father—I felt the power of godliness in my soul—I knew what heart religion was, what secret, closet religion was—but alas! the salt has lost its savor!”

But a solemn question is proposed—”With which shall it be salted?” In other words, how can such a relapsed state of the spiritual life be recovered? The recovery is not impossible, and the case, therefore, is not hopeless. The salt may again be salted; the waning strength may be restored. Impossible as this may be to man, with God it is possible. By infusing a new life into the renewed nature, a fresh impartation of grace to the heart, and thus by putting His hand again to the entire work of restoring and reviving the whole inner man, the salt, re-salted, may regain its former sweetness and power.

The means by which this great and gracious recovery may be effected are such as His wisdom will suggest, and His sovereignty will adopt. But of this we may rest assured, all will be under the direction of unchangeable love. Whether it may be by the gentle gales of the Spirit, or by the severe tempest of trial, is but of little moment in comparison of the happy and glorious result. If the salt that has lost its savor be but re-salted, the mysterious process by which it is effected we will calmly and submissively leave in His hands. “This also comes forth from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working.”

February 13: For Those Suffering

Why let those who suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:19

THE God who is now dealing with you is love, all love—a God in Christ—your covenant God—your reconciled Father. All His thoughts towards you, peace; all His feelings, love; and all His dealings, mercy.

Soon will you be in His heavenly presence, and behold His unveiled glory as it beams forth from the eternal throne. Soon will you be with Jesus, shall see Him, be like Him, and dwell with Him forever. Darkness, and conflict, and sickness, and death shall cease, because sin shall cease. Then, in your blessed experience, will be realized the beatific vision—”And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”

Let this prospect reconcile you patiently to wait all the days of your appointed time, until your change come. God is faithful. Christ, in whom you believe, is able to keep that which you have committed unto Him against that glorious day. He will perfect that which concerns you. Nothing shall be consumed in your present fiery trial, but the tin and dross. The precious and imperishable gold shall be “found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

Not more safe were Noah and his family, when they sailed in the ark through the storm, than is that soul who is shut up in Christ. If you have come out of yourself, have left all, and have fled to Jesus, this is your encouragement—not a soul ever perished whom the Father gave in covenant to his Son—whom the Son redeemed—whom the Spirit has regenerated, and in whom He dwells. A threefold cord keeps that precious saint—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “Kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.”

Oh, precious declaration! Press it with a stronger faith to your heart; for if God be for you, who can be against you? In your present state of suffering you find it difficult to think or to pray. But He, who formed you, knows your frame, “He remembers that we are dust.” There is One who thinks and prays for you. It is Jesus, your Elder Brother; the “brother born for adversity;” the great High Priest, wearing your nature, who has passed within the veil, “now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Jesus intercedes for you moment by moment.

Your faith shall not fail, your grace shall not decline, your hope shall not make ashamed; for He who came down to earth, and was wounded for your transgression, and was bruised for your iniquities, rose again from the dead, and ascended on high, now to appear in the presence of God for you. Christ prays for you, and that, when by reason of confusion of mind and weakness of body you cannot pray for yourself. Precious Jesus! You are that gentle Shepherd, who over-drives not Your little ones. When they cannot run, You do permit them to walk; and when, through feebleness, they cannot walk, You do carry them. You are He of whom it is said, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom.”

February 9: A Holy Heaven

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness: the unclean shall not pass over it; but the redeemed shall walk there. Isaiah 35:8, 9

HEAVEN is the abode of a renewed people; it is a holy place, and the home of the holy; and before the sinner can have any real fitness for heaven, any well-grounded hope of glory, he must be a partaker of a nature harmonizing with the purity, and corresponding with the enjoyments, of heaven. Heaven would be no heaven to a carnal mind, to an unsanctified heart. Were it possible to translate an unconverted individual from this world to the abodes of eternal glory, overwhelmed with the effulgence of the place, and having no fellowship of feeling with the purity of its enjoyments, and the blessedness of its society, he would exclaim—”Take me hence—it is not the place for me—I have no sympathy with it—I have no fitness for it—I have no pleasure in it.” Solemn thought!

But the Christian is a renewed creature—he is a partaker of the Divine nature; he has sympathies, affections, and desires, imparted to him by the Spirit, which assimilate him to the happiness and purity of heaven. It is impossible but that he must be there. He possesses a nature unfit for earth, and congenial only with heaven. He is the subject of a spiritual life that came from, and now ascends to, heaven. All its aspirations are heavenly—all its breathings are heavenly—all its longings are heavenly; and thus it is perpetually soaring towards that world of glory from where it came, and for which God is preparing it. So that it would seem utterly impossible but that a renewed man must be in heaven, since he is the partaker of a nature fitted only for the regions of eternal purity and bliss.

But what is it that gives the Christian a valid deed, a right of possession, to eternal glory? It is his justification by faith through the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is the only valid title to eternal glory which God will admit—the righteousness of His dear Son imputed to him that believes. Here is the grand fitness of a poor, lost, polluted, undone sinner; the fitness that springs from the spotless righteousness of the Lord Jesus, “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” “He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Behold, then, beloved, the high vantage-ground on which a saint of God stands, with regard to his hope of heaven. He stands out of his own righteousness in the righteousness of another. He stands accepted in the Accepted One, he stands justified in the Justified One, and justified, too, by God, the great Justifier.

The spiritual life which God has breathed into our souls will never rest until it reaches its full and perfect development. Deep as are its pulsations, holy as are its breathings, it is yet but in its infancy, compared with that state of perfection to which it is destined. The highest state of sanctification to which the believer can arrive here is but the first dawn of day, contrasted with the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” which will burst upon him in a world of perfect holiness. Heaven will complete the work which sovereign grace has begun upon earth. Heaven is the consummation of the spiritual life of the believer.

January 9: Jesus Only

Jesus only. Matthew 17:8

Is not this the motto of every true believer? Whom does his heart in its best moments, and holiest affections, and intentest yearnings, supremely desire? The answer is, “Jesus only.”

Having by His Spirit enthroned Himself there, having won the affections by the power of His love and the attractions of His beauty, the breathing of the soul now is, “Whom have I in heaven but You, and who is there on earth that I desire beside You?” Blessed is that soul, the utterances of whose heart are the sincere and fervent expressions of a love of which Christ is the one and supreme object!

Oh, to love Him more! Worthy, most worthy is He of our first and best affections. Angels love Him ardently and supremely; how much more should we, who owe to Him a deeper debt of love than they! Let the love of Christ, then, constrain us to love Him, in return, with an affection which shall evince, by the singleness of its object and the unreserved surrender of its obedience, that He who reigns the sovereign Lord of our affections is—”Jesus only.”

In all the spiritual circumstances of the believer’s history, it is still “Jesus only.” In the corrodings of guilt upon the conscience, in the cloud which veils the reconciled countenance of God from the soul, where are we to look, save to “Jesus only”? In the mournful consciousness of our unfaithfulness to God, of our aggravated backslidings, repeated departures, the allowed foils and defeats by which our enemies exult, and the saints hang their heads in sorrow, to whom are we to turn, but to “Jesus only”? In the cares, anxieties, and perplexities which gather around our path, in the consequent castings-down of our soul, and in the disquietude of our spirit within us, to whom shall we turn, but to “Jesus only”?

In those deep and mysterious exercises of soul-travail, which not always the saints of God can fully understand—when we see a hand they cannot see, and when we hear a voice then cannot hear; when we seem to tread a lone path, or traverse a sea where no fellow-voyager ever heaves in sight; the days of soul-exercise wearisome, and its nights long and dark—oh! to whom shall we then turn, save to “Jesus only”? Who can enter into all this, and sympathize with all this, but Jesus? To Him alone, then, let us repair, with every sin, and with every burden, and with every temptation, and with every sorrow, and with every mental and spiritual exercise, thankful to be shut up exclusively to “Jesus only.”

And when the time draws near that we must depart out of this world, and go unto the Father, one object will fix the eye, from which all others are then receding—it is “Jesus only.” Ah! to die, actually to die, must be a crisis of our being quite different from reading of death in a book, or from hearing of it in the pulpit, or from talking of it by the way-side. It is a solemn, an appalling thing to die! But to the believer in Jesus, how pleasant and how glorious! “Absent from the body,” he is “present with the Lord.” Jesus is with him then. The blood of Jesus is there, cleansing him from all his guilt; the arms of Jesus are there, supporting him in all his weakness; the Spirit of Jesus is there, comforting him in all his fears; and now is he learning, for the last time on earth, that as for all the sins, all the perils, all the trials, and all the sorrows of life, so now as that life is ebbing fast away, and death is chilling, and eternity is nearing, “Jesus only” is all—sufficient for his soul.

Believer! look to “Jesus only”—lean upon Him, cleave to Him, labor for Him, suffer for Him, and, if need be, die for Him; thus loving and trusting, living and dying for, “JESUS ONLY.”

November 2: Declension In Prayer

“And all things, whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” Matthew 21:22

Draw near, then, seeking soul, with boldness; not the boldness of a presumptuous, self-righteous man, but that of one chosen, called, pardoned, and justified. Draw near with the lowly boldness of a child—with the humble confidence of a son.

Dear are you to your Father. Sweet is your voice to Him. Precious is your person, accepted in His Beloved. You can not come too boldly—you can not come too frequently—you can not come with too large requests. You are coming to a King, that King your Father, that Father viewing you in His beloved Son.

Oh, hang not back. Stand not afar off. He now holds out the golden scepter, and says, “Come near; what is your request? Come with your temporal want. Come with your spiritual need. Ask what you will, it shall be granted you. I have an open hand, and a large heart.” Is it your desire—”Lord, I want more grace to glorify You. I want more simplicity of mind, and singleness of eye. I want a more holy, upright, honest walk. I want more meekness, patience, lowliness, submission. I want to know more of Jesus, to see more of His glory, to feel more of His preciousness, and to live more simply upon His fullness. I want more of the sanctifying, sealing, witnessing, and anointing influences of the Spirit”? Blessed, holy desires! It is the Spirit making intercession in you according to the will of God; and entering into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, the Lord will fulfill the desires of your heart, even to the half of kingdom.

Watch diligently against the least declension in the spirit of prayer. If there be declension here, there will also be declension in every part and department of the work of the Spirit in your soul. It is prayer that keeps every grace of the Spirit in active, holy, and healthy exercise. It is the stream, so to speak, that supplies refreshing vigor and nourishment to all the plants of grace.

It is true, that the fountain-head of all spiritual life and “grace to help in time of need,” is Christ; “for it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” And Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians was, “My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” But the channel through which all grace comes is prayer—ardent, wrestling, importunate, believing prayer. Suffer this channel to be dry—permit any object to narrow or close it up—and the effect will be a withering and decay of the life of God in the soul.

Guard, then, against the slightest decline of prayer in the soul. If prayer—family prayer, social prayer, most of all, closet prayer, is declining with you, no further evidence is needed of your being in a backsliding state of mind. There may not yet have been the outward departure, but you are in the way to it—and nothing but a return to prayer will save you.

Oh, what alarm, what fearfulness and trembling, should this thought occasion in a child of God, “I am on my way to an awful departure from God! Such is the state of my soul at this moment, such my present state of mind, such the loss of my spirituality, such the hold which the world has upon my affections, there is no length in sin to which I may not now go, there is no iniquity which I may not now commit.

The breakers are full in view, any my poor weak vessel is heading to and rapidly nearing them.” What can shield you from the commission of that sin, what can keep you from wounding Jesus afresh, what can preserve you from foundering and making shipwreck of your faith, but an immediate and fervent return to prayer.

Prayer is your only safety. Prayer, for grace to help in your time of need. Prayer, for reviving grace, for quickening, restraining, sanctifying grace. Prayer, to be kept from falling, to be held up in the slippery paths. Prayer, for the lowly mind, for the contrite spirit, for the broken heart, for the soft, and close, and humble walk with God.

October 30: Meditate Upon Him

“What think you of Christ?” Matthew 22:42

Reader, what do you think of Christ? Do you see beauty, surpassing beauty, in Immanuel? Has His glory broken upon your view?—has it beamed in upon your mind? Has a sight of Jesus, seen by faith, cast you in the dust, exclaiming, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye sees You; why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”? Your honest reply to these searching questions will decide the nature and the ground of your present hope for eternity. On the confines of that eternity you are now standing.

Solemn consideration! It is of infinite moment, then, that your views of the Son of God should be thoroughly examined, sifted, and compared with the inspired word. A crown now lowered on your brow, a kingdom stretched at your feet, a world gained and grasped, were as infant’s baubles, compared with the tremendous interests involved in the question, “What think you of Christ?”

And what do you think of Him? Is He all your salvation and all your desire? Have you laid sinful self and righteous self beneath His cross? and in all your poverty, nakedness, and vileness, have you received Him as made of God unto you “wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption”? Does His glory dim all other glory; and does His beauty eclipse all other beauty in your eye? Can you point to Him and say, in the humble confidence of faith and joy of love, “This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend”? Eternal God! but for the righteousness of Your Son, I sink in all my pollution! but for the atoning blood of Immanuel, I perish in all my guilt! Holy Father, look not on me, but behold my shield, look upon the face of Your anointed! and when Your glory passes by—the glory of Your majesty, Your holiness, and Your justice—then put me in the cleft of the rock, and cover me with Your hand while You pass by.

Cultivate frequent and devout contemplations of Christ and of His glory. Immense will be the benefit accruing to your soul. The mind, thus preoccupied, filled, and expanded, will be enabled to present a stronger resistance to the ever-advancing and insidious encroachments of the world without.

No place will be found for vain thoughts and no desire or time for carnal enjoyments. Oh, how crucifying and sanctifying are clear views of the glory of Immanuel! how emptying, humbling, and abasing! With the patriarch we then exclaim, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” And with the prophet, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips. Mine eyes have seen the King.” And with the apostle, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

Oh, then, aim to get your mind filled with enlarged and yet expanding views of the glory of Christ. Let it, in all the discoveries it affords of the Divine mind and majesty, be the one subject of your thoughts, the one theme of your conversation. Place no limit to your knowledge of Christ.

Ever consider that you have but read the preface to the volume, you have but touched the margin of the sea; stretching far away beyond you, are undiscovered beauties, and precious views, and sparkling glories, each encouraging your advance, inviting your research, and asking the homage of your faith, the tribute of your love, and the dedication of your life.

Go forward, then! The glories that yet must be revealed to you in a growing knowledge of Jesus, what imagination can conceive, what pen can describe them! “You shall see greater things than these,” is the promise that bids you advance. Jesus stands ready to unveil all the beauties of His person, and admit you into the very arcana of His love. There not a chamber of His heart that He will not throw open to you; not a blessing that He will not bestow upon you; not a glory that He will not show to you.

You shall see greater things than you have yet seen—greater depths of sin in your fallen nature shall be revealed—deeper sense of the cleansing efficacy of the atoning blood shall be felt—clearer views of your acceptance in the Beloved—greater discoveries of God’s love—and greater depths of grace and glory in Jesus shall be enjoyed. Your “peace shall flow like a river, and your righteousness as the waves of sea.” Sorrow shall wound you less deeply; affliction shall press you less heavily; tribulation shall affect you less keenly: all this, and infinitely more, will result from your deeper knowledge of Jesus.

Ah, wonder not that the apostle exclaimed, “Doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.”

October 21: Chilled Affections

“Why say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto you? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” Jeremiah 2:31, 32

When God becomes less an object of fervent desire, holy delight, and frequent contemplation, we may suspect a declension of Divine love in the soul. Our spiritual views of God, and our spiritual and constant delight in Him, will be materially affected by the state of our spiritual love.

If there is coldness in the affections, if the mind grows earthly, carnal, and selfish, dark and gloomy shadows will gather round the character and the glory of God. He will become less an object of supreme attachment, unmingled delight, adoring contemplation, and filial trust. The moment the supreme love of Adam to God declined, the instant that it swerved from its proper and lawful center, he shunned converse with God, and sought to embower himself from the presence of the Divine glory. Conscious of a change in his affections—sensible of a divided heart, of subjection to a rival interest—and knowing that God was no longer the object of his supreme love, nor the fountain of his pure delight, nor the blessed and only source of his bliss—he rushed from His presence as from an object of terror, and sought concealment in Eden’s bowers.

That God whose presence was once so glorious, whose converse was so holy, whose voice was so sweet, became as a strange God to the rebellious and conscience-stricken creature, and, “absence from You is best,” was written in dark letters upon his guilty brow.

And where this difference? Was God less glorious in Himself? Was He less holy, less loving, less faithful, or less the fountain of supreme bliss? Far from it, God had undergone no change. It is the perfection of a perfect Being that He is unchangeable, that He can never act contrary to His own nature, but must ever be, in all that He does, in harmony with Himself. The change was in the creature.

Adam had left his first love, had transferred his affections to another and an inferior object; and, conscious that he had ceased to love God, he would sincerely have veiled himself from His presence, and have excluded himself from His communion. It is even so in the experience of a believer, conscious of a declension in his love to God. There is a hiding from His presence; there are misty views of His character, misinterpretations of His dealings, and a lessening of holy desire for Him: but where the heart is right in its affections, warm in its love, fixed in its desires, God is glorious in His perfections, and communion with Him the highest bliss on earth.

This was David’s experience—”O God, You are my God; early will I seek You: my soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where no water is; to see Your power and Your glory, so as I have seen You in the sanctuary. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.”

Not only in the declension of Divine love in the soul, does God become less an object of adoring contemplation and desire, but there is less filial approach to Him. The sweet confidence and simple trust of the child is lost, the soul no longer rushes into His bosom with all the lowly yet fond yearnings of an adopted son, but lingers at a distance; or, if it attempts to approach, does so with the trembling and the restraint of a slave.

The tender, loving, child-like spirit that marked the walk of the believer in the days of his espousals—when no object was so glorious to him as God, no being so loved as his heavenly Father, no spot so sacred as the throne of communion, no theme so sweet as his free-grace adoption—has in a great degree departed; and distrust, and legal fears, and bondage of spirit have succeeded it.

All these sad effects may be traced to the declension of filial love in the soul of the believer towards God.

Study The Mystery Of Christ’s Love To Sinners

Regard it as one of your chief mercies that your salvation depends not upon reason but upon faith: that you are not called upon fully to comprehend, but unquestioningly to believe and love: that you are not the less saved because your faith deals with obscurity, nor is your faith less real, precious, or saving, because it abjures the wisdom of the sage for the docile spirit of the child, and the learning of the philosopher for the humility of the disciple. Let your great study be the mystery of Christ’s love to sinners–the mystery of Christ’s love to you.

The apostle was content to leave all mysteries to the day of perfect knowledge, might he but attain unto love. “Though I know all mysteries, and have not love, I am nothing.” Study that grand truth, “God is love,” as embodied in the cross of Christ, and you can well afford to refer all that is obscure and hard to understand in revealed truth to the day when we shall know all, as we also are known. Cease to dispute, cavil, and speculate on the subject of religion and revealed truth, and receive the gospel and enter into the kingdom of Christ as a little child.

In the momentous matter of your future destiny, you have but to deal with two specific and distinct facts–your sinnership, and Christ’s Saviorship. What if you solve all the problems of science, and fathom all the deeps of learning, and unravel all the mysteries of truth, and yet are lost! What will your speculations, and researches, and discoveries avail, if at last they be found ineffectual to distill one drop of the water of life upon the tongue, now caviling and profane, then fevered and tormented in the quenchless flame? Are you not, by your present persistent course of unbelief, pride, and rejection of truth, in danger of finding yourself there?

Oh, it is of infinite moment to you that you come as sinful to the blood, as condemned to the righteousness, as ignorant and unlearned to the feet of Christ. The great problem you have to work out is, your own salvation. The grand mystery you have to unravel is, the mystery of your union with Jesus. The momentous questions you have to decide are, the place, the society, and the employments of your endless future! Where, with whom, and how, you will spend your long eternity? Compared with these grave considerations, all your doctrinal hair-splitting and your religious speculations, your vain disputes and your dreamy hopes, are as the follies of drivelling idiocy, or the aberrations of a mind insane.

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