The One Chart Unto Eternity

You send the Bible to the ignorant and destitute, you carry it to every cottage and waft it to every country, and thanks to God that you do so. But to what extent is it studied in your churches, read in your families, taught to your children? There is no surer evidence of living without God in the world than living without intimate communion with the Bible. Who that does not mean to remain in impenetrable obduracy, who that does not form the deliberate resolve to close every avenue to the divine influence, that is not prepared to plunge the dagger of the second death into his own bosom; can live in the neglect of these Scriptures of God? And if you believe them, and understand them, will you refuse them the submission of your heart and your everlasting obedience? Do you accredit the stupendous truths contained in this volume, and shall they awaken no deep interest, and urge you to no solemn preparation for your last account?

There is not one among those who will not prove a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. What can we add more to this searching, solemn appeal to you who are living in a wilful neglect of that Book which tells you of life in this world, and out of which you will be judged in the world which is to come?

Disbelieve, or neglect the Word of God, and you reject the only chart to eternity.

The Precious Things of God

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April 22: The Depths Of Scripture

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim. 3:16, 17

IT has seemed good to the Holy Spirit, the Divine Author of the Bible, to embody and exhibit some of the most important spiritual and magnificent truths of His word in the form of type, symbol, and similitude. Neither His wisdom nor His love, in thus throwing a veil of apparent obscurity around revelations so momentous, can be questioned.

It cannot be reasonably denied that God, who saw proper to unveil His own mind, and in a way of extraordinary relation communicate His will to man, could as easily, if so it pleased Him, not only have accompanied that revelation with the self-evident assurance that He, and no other, was the speaker; but that also He could have cleared away whatever was mysterious and obscure from each truth, causing it to stand forth, palpable and demonstrative, bathed in the splendor of its own Divine effulgence. But with a view, doubtless, of simplifying the meaning, of heightening the grandeur, and of deepening the solemnity of truth in the estimation of the human mind, this peculiar mode of conveying it is, in part, adopted.

Nor for these reasons alone. The spirit of earnest and persevering research is the spirit which a proper and successful study of the Bible demands. It is not everywhere upon the surface of God’s word, that the most important instruction is found; though even there truths the most spiritual and precious are sometimes scattered, like brilliant constellations pendant from the firmament, and visible to the naked eye, or as gems detached from the ocean’s cave are sometimes thrown upon the shore, and gathered up by the passing traveler. But in most cases the truth of God lies deep and invisible.

A superficial and careless research will not conduct the investigator to its richest revelations. The mine must be excavated, the firmament must be explored, the ocean must be fathomed—in other words, the Scriptures must be searched with much prayer for the Spirit’s teaching, and with “patient continuance,” or their greatest beauties and their costliest treasures will remain concealed. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” and there is no type, nor symbol, nor parable, nor story, nor song, which enfolds not some profound truth, and which conveys not some deep practical lesson of wisdom, some rich word of comfort, or some precious unfolding of Jesus, the “price of which is above rubies.”

February 20: Sweeter Than Honey

How sweet are your words unto my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Psalm 110:103

THIS similitude is one of frequent occurrence in the Bible. Moses says, that the Lord made his people to “suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.” It is quite clear, then, that we may regard this species of food as the symbol of great spiritual blessings. The sources from where the Christian’s nourishment is derived are various. We should be grateful to God that He has not limited us to one secondary source of spiritual nourishment. It was proper, it was wise and gracious in God, that there should be but one Plant of Renown, but one Rose of Sharon, but one Lily of the Valley, but one Living Vine, in other words, that there should be but one Savior and Redeemer, but one Head and Reservoir of the Church. But there are offshoots from this divine plant, there are streams issuing from this sacred fountain-head, from each of which the believer may, by faith, extract the nourishment that strengthens and revives hone?

And what is the word of God but this honey? And from where does this honey fall, but from the heart of God? It is the unfolding of the heart of God. His mind conveys the word, but His heart dictates the word. Take the promises; how “exceeding great and precious” they are. Have you not often found them sweet to your taste as the honey and the honeycomb? When some portion of the word suited to your present need has been brought home to your heart by the sealing power of the Holy Spirit, how have all other sweets become bitter to your taste compared with this! Your Heavenly Father saw your grief, your Divine Captain beheld your conflict and your exhaustion, and bade His Spirit go and drop that sweet promise into your sad heart, and you found the entrance of God’s word gave light and comfort to your sad and gloomy spirit.

The love of God in Christ! Oh, it is sweeter than honey. The love that gave Christ—that chose us in Christ—that has blessed us in Christ—that gives us standing in Christ—surely it passes all knowledge. To see it traveling over all the opposition of our unbelieving minds, and the corruption of our depraved hearts, and meeting us at some peculiar stage of our journey, in some painful crisis of our history, in some bitter lonely trial through which we are passing, how does this exalt our views of its greatness, and bring us into the experience of its sweetness! Such too is the love of the Spirit, His love as tasted in His calling—in His comforting—in His sanctifying—in His witnessing, and in all His effectual and unwearied teaching. “God is love;” and on this truth—sweet in our present experience—we shall be living through eternity, “if so be we have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

February 11: Comfort In Affliction

This is my comfort in my affliction: for your word has quickened me. Psalm 119:50.

OH, how many a deeply-tried Christian has set his seal to this truth! What is the comfort sought by the worldling in his affliction? Alas! he seeks to drown his sorrow by plunging yet deeper into that which has created it. He goes to the world for his comfort; that world that has already belied him, betrayed him, and stung and wounded him more keenly and deeply than the adder.

But turn to the man of God. What was the Psalmist’s comfort in his sorrow? Was it the lightness of his affliction? Was it the soothing tenderness and sympathy of the saints? Ah, no! it was none of these. It was the spiritual quickening his soul received through the truth of God! This healed his sorrow-stricken heart; this poured a tide of richer comfort into his deeply afflicted soul than the sweetest human balm, or even the entire removal of his trial, could have done. Oh, favored soul, who, when in deep and dark waters—when passing through the fiery furnace—are led to desire spiritual quickening above all other comforts beside—sweetly testifying, “This is my comfort in my affliction, Your word has quickened me.” That word, unfolding to us Jesus, leading us to Jesus, and transforming us into the image of Jesus, proves a reviving word in the hour of trial.

By bringing us into a closer acquaintance with the word, trial stimulates the inner life. We flee to the word for counsel or for comfort, and the word proves a quickening word. Divine correction not only teaches, but it stimulates our relish for the spiritual parts of God’s truth. In times of prosperity we are tempted to neglect the word. The world abates the keenness of the soul’s appetite. We taste no sweetness in its promises, and cannot receive its admonitions and rebukes. “The full soul loaths a honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”

Replenished with created good, and surfeited with earthly comfort, the soul, in its pride and self-sufficiency, loathes the divine honey of God’s word. But when the Lord removes the creature, and embitters the world—both proving cisterns that can hold no water—then how precious becomes the word of Jesus! Not its doctrines and its consolations only, but even its deepest searching and its severest rebukes—that which lays us the lowest in the dust of shame and self-abhorrence—are then sweet as the honey and the honeycomb to our renewed taste. Then in truth we exclaim—”How sweet are Your words to my taste! yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

The Best Of Books

Whatever you neglect, neglect not the Bible. If a professed believer, beware how you blend in your reading the chaff of human fiction and story, with the wheat of God’s Word. It is utterly impossible, reason as you may, that you can cultivate a spiritual and devout taste and desire for the truth of God and the fiction of man. The Bible and the novel can never stand side by side. As a Christian, guard against the light, frivolous, frothy literature of the day. It will lessen your conviction of what is true, it will depreciate the value of what is divine, it will impair your taste for what is spiritual, and it will bring poverty, barrenness, and death into your soul. God speaks to you from every paragraph and sentence of this Holy Book. It is His voice that we hear, His signature that we behold, His ineffable glory, which, the more it is viewed in this bright mirror, may the more powerfully command our wonder and praise.

Continue reading “The Best Of Books”

Deeper Knowledge Of Jesus

Cultivate frequent and devout contemplations of the glory of Christ. 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. 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 Emmanuel! 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, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” And with the apostle, “But 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.”

Continue reading “Deeper Knowledge Of Jesus”

October 22: Sanctified By The Word

“Sanctified by the word of God.” 1 Timothy 4:5

It is the natural tendency of Divine truth, when received into the heart, to produce holiness. The design of the whole plan of redemption was to secure the highest holiness and happiness of the creature; and when the gospel comes with the power of God unto the salvation of the soul, this end is preeminently secured.

The renewed man is a pardoned man; the pardoned man becomes a holy man; and the holy man is a happy man. Look, then, at God’s word, and trace the tendency of every doctrine, precept, promise, and threatening, and mark the holy influence of each. Take the doctrine of God’s everlasting love to His people, as seen in their election to eternal life. How holy is the tendency of this truth! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

Let not my reader turn from this glorious doctrine, because he may find it irreconcilable with others that he may hold, or because the mists of prejudice may long have veiled it from his mind; it is a revealed doctrine, and therefore to be fully received; it is a holy doctrine, and therefore to be ardently loved. Received in the heart by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, it lays the pride of man in the dust, knocking from beneath the soul all ground for self-glorying, and expands the mind with the most exalted views of the glory, grace, and love of Jehovah. He who receives the doctrine of electing love in his heart by the power of the Spirit, bears about with him the material of a holy walk; its tendency is to humble, abase, and sanctify the man.

Thus holy, too, is the revealed doctrine of God’s free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace. The tendency of this truth is most sanctifying: for a man to feel that God alone has made him to differ from another—that what he has, he has received—that by the free, distinguishing grace of God he is what he is—is a truth, when experienced in the heart, surely of the most holy influence.

How it lays the axe at the root of self! how it stains the pride of human glory, and hushes the whispers of vain boasting! It lays the renewed sinner where he ought ever to lie, in the dust; and places the crown, where it alone ought to shine, bright and glorious, upon the head of sovereign mercy.

“Lord, why me? I was far from You by wicked works; I was the least of my Father’s house, and, of all, the most unworthy and unlikely object of Your love and yet Your mercy sought me—Your grace selected me out of all the rest, and made me a miracle of its omnipotent power. Lord, to what can I refer this, but to Your mere mercy, Your sovereign and free grace, entirely apart from all worth or worthiness that You did see in me? Take, therefore, my body, soul, and spirit, and let them be, in time and through eternity, a holy temple to Your glory.”

All the precepts, too, are on the side of holiness. “If you love me, keep my commandments;” “Be you holy, for I am holy;” “Come out of the world and be you separate, and touch not the unclean thing.”‘ “God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness;” “That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Holy precepts! May the eternal Spirit engrave them deep upon our hearts.

Not less sanctifying in their tendency are the “exceeding great and precious promises” which the word of truth contains. “Having, therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Thus holy and sanctifying are the nature and the effect of Divine truth. It is in its nature and properties most holy; it comes from a holy God and whenever and wherever it is received in the heart, as the good and incorruptible seed of the kingdom, it produces that which is in accordance with its own nature—HOLINESS.

As is the tree, so are the fruits; as is the cause, so are the effects. It brings down and lays low the high thoughts of man, by revealing to him the character of God; it convinces him of his deep guilt and awful condemnation, by exhibiting the Divine law; it unfolds to him God’s hatred of sin, His justice in punishing and His mercy in pardoning it, by unfolding to his view the cross of Christ; and taking entire possession of the soul, it implants new principles, supplies new motives, gives a new end, begets new joys, and inspires new hopes—in a word, diffuses itself through the whole moral man, changes it into the same image, and transforms it into “an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

October 2: A Great Mystery

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:7

There is much of deep mystery in revelation. God, considered both in Himself and in His operations, is a mystery stretching far beyond the most sublime power of finite reason. “Can you by searching find out God? can you find out the Almighty unto perfection?” and of His operations may we not exclaim with the inspired penman, “Lo! these are parts of His ways; but how little a portion is heard of Him!”

Christ, too, is the great “mystery of godliness.” Whether His complex person is regarded—the union of the Divine and human natures in one—or whether we look at His work—His obedience and death constituting a full atonement to Divine justice in behalf of the sins of His people—it must be acknowledged a depth too profound for human thought adequately to fathom.

What can poor finite reason accomplish here? What beams can its feeble, flickering light cast upon this world of mystery? And if ever it stands forth invested in its own native impotence, it is when it sits in judgment upon the doctrines and facts of revelation, discarding or retaining such only as are intelligible to its dwarfish capacity. “Which things,” says the apostle, “the angels desire to look into.” Mark his expressions!

He represented not these celestial beings of purity and intellect as scaling the heights and diving into the depths of redemption’s mystery, but “which things the angels desire”—scarcely dare—but “desire to look into.” And yet for a fallen and unrenewed mind to sit in judgment upon God’s truth can only be exceeded in its temerity by the depravity which prompts it.

If the truth of God, in its doctrines and facts, is a mystery incomprehensible to unrenewed reason, what shall we say of the truth as experienced in the heart? If reason cannot understand the vast framework of truth, how can it comprehend the secret power by which it operates? The very fact, that to be understood it must be experienced, accounts for the difficulty. The transforming operation of the Holy Spirit upon the mind—giving it a new bias, new inclinations, turning its darkness into light, and kindling its enmity into love; the life of God in the soul, creating the man anew in Christ Jesus—that life which is hidden, ever productive of a holy life that is seen—its hopes and its fears, its defeats and its triumphs—the causes which operate to deaden it, and the spiritual nourishment by which it is supported—all, all is incomprehensible to human reason. Truly “the world knows us not.”

The cause of this incapacity of reason, in its natural state, to comprehend spiritual and experimental truth is its corruption and perversion by sin. Sin has impaired our mental faculties—enslaved, clouded, and debased our reason. We open God’s word, and it declares that since the fall the nature of man has been corrupt, and his reason blind; his understanding darkened, and his heart, the seat of his affections, polluted: “having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

The natural man, while in that state, so far from being able to explore the wide domain of spiritual truth, hates and flees from it when proposed to his consideration, “receiving not the things of the Spirit of God, they being foolishness unto him.” This being the state of man, God’s word consequently declares it necessary that, before spiritual truth can be understood, he should be “transformed by the renewing of his mind;” that he should be restored to that sound mind, and enlightened understanding, and spiritual discernment, with which his nature was endowed when it came originally from the hand of God; in a word, that he should be born again, created anew in Christ Jesus; that old things should pass away, and that all things should become new.

Then, and then only, will he be able to understand the “truth of God in a mystery.”

October 1: The Law Of The Lord

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalm 19:7

Emanating from a Being infinitely perfect in every moral perfection, it follows as a natural sequence from this truth, that the law, designed to be a transcript of what God is—a copy of Himself—must be in every respect a most perfect law. How could it be otherwise?

Is it rational to suppose that a Being of infinite holiness, wisdom, and goodness would form a rule for the government of moral creatures, that would fail to place before their eye the loftiest standard of excellence, and that should not demand and secure their supreme obedience and happiness? It follows, then, that the law being essentially and perfectly holy, all its requirements must be equally so. It cannot change, nor compromise, nor soften down either the nature or the outline or the enforcement of a single enactment. It demands of every creature the profoundest homage, the most implicit obedience, and the most perfect love. In requiring this, the creature shall have no ground for impeaching the Divine goodness.

He shall have no reason for alleging of God that He is harsh and austere. As if fearful of perplexing the mind with a multitude of enactments, our Lord has presented one precept of the law, the perfect keeping of which resolves itself into a virtual fulfillment of all—”Jesus said unto him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.”

Who but an infinitely wise Lawgiver could have embodied all the requisitions of an extended code in a single one? What an unfolding of the wisdom of God is here! In securing to Himself the supreme love of His creatures, He wins a willing obedience to every precept of His law.

Such is the all-commanding, all-constraining power of love to God! Employing no other than this gentle and persuasive motive, God asks your intellect—your time—your service—your rank—your substance—your person—your life—your all. In demanding this complete surrender, His law stands forth, in view of all created intelligences, as a rule worthy of Him from whom it emanates. Oh yes! it is a most righteous law.

September 30: The Abiding Word

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31, 32

In proportion to a believer’s simple, filial, and close walk with God, will be his deep and spiritual discoveries of truth. “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.” The more steadily he walks in God’s light, the clearer will he see the light. The nearer he lives to the Sun of Righteousness, the more entirely will he be flooded with its glory, and the more vividly will he reflect its brightness. The more simply and entirely the believing soul lives on Christ, the more enlarged, experimental, and practical will be his ideas of all truth.

The central fact of the Bible is, Christ crucified. From this, as their center, all the lines of truth diverge, and to this, as by a common attraction, they all again return. To know Christ, then—to know Him as dwelling in the heart by His own Spirit —is to have traversed the great circle of spiritual truth. What is His own testimony? “He that has seen me, has seen the Father.” “I am the Father’s great revelation. I have come to make Him known. To unveil His attributes, to illustrate His law, to pour forth the ocean fullness of His love, and to erect one common platform on which may meet in holy fellowship God and the sinner—the two extremes of being. Learn of me; I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Not only will a spiritual perception of the beauty and fitness of the truth be the result of a close and filial communion with God, but the assurance that God’s word is truth, and not fiction, will increase. And to be thoroughly established in this is no small attainment.

To know that God’s word is true—to cherish no doubt or hesitancy—to give Him full credit for all that He has said—to repose by simple faith upon the promise, and on the faithfulness of Him that has promised—is a blessing earnestly to be sought, and, when found, diligently to be kept.

To quote the striking words of the apostle, “He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself.” He has the inward witness to the truth. He needs no outward demonstration. He is in possession of a sort of evidence to the truth of God’s word which scepticism cannot shake, because it cannot reach it. He may not be able to define the precise nature of his evidence; his reply to the unbelieving objector is, “It must be felt to be known, it must be experienced to be understood.

This evidence is not the result of a labored process of thought. I arrived not at it by mathematical reasoning. I was convinced by the Eternal Spirit of sin, fled to Christ, ventured my all upon Him, and now I know of a surety that God’s blessed word is truth.” And not more completely was his sophistry confuted, who attempted to disprove the doctrine of motion, by his opponent immediately rising and walking, than a humble, spiritual, though unlettered believer may thus put to silence the foolishness and ignorance of men.

Their sophistry he may not be able to detect, their assertions he may not be able to disprove, yet by a walk holy and close with God he may demonstrate to the unbelieving universe that Jehovah’s word is true.

Christian professor! are you one of Christ’s true disciples, following Him closely, or are you walking at a distance from Him? A distant walk will as certainly bring darkness into the soul, with its painful attendants—unbelief—loss of evidence—hard thoughts of God—slavish fear—as if an individual were to close every inlet of a habitation to the rays of the sun, and sit down amid the gloom and obscurity with which He has enshrouded Himself.

There is no true spiritual light but that which beams from the Sun of Righteousness, and to this every inlet of the soul must be open. To enjoy this light, then, a believer must dwell near the Sun—he must live close to Christ; he must live the life of daily faith upon Him—he must look away from himself to Jesus—he must walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing—he must be found prayerful and diligent in the means; while, rising above them, he draws all his life, light, and peace from the God of the means.

Oh, what losers are they who walk as Peter walked—at a distance from their Lord; what seasons of endearing communion—what tokens of love—what visits of mercy they rob themselves of! What losers are they who neglect the means of grace—closet prayer—church fellowship—the communion of saints—the blessed ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper—these channels, through which a covenant God conveys such untold blessings into the soul of His dear child; for “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him;” and to fear Him is not to dread Him as a slave, but as a child to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

“Oh, send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me, let them bring me unto Your holy hill and to Your tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yes, upon the harp will I praise You, O God, my God.”