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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June 29: The Rough And Thorny Way

“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Hebrews 11:25.

THE believer should never fail to remember that the present is, by the appointment of God, the afflicted state to him. It is God’s ordained, revealed will, that His covenant children here should be in an afflicted condition. When called by grace, they should never take into their account any other state. They become the disciples of the religion of the cross—they become the followers of a crucified Lord—they put on a yoke, and assume a burden: they must, then, expect the cross inward and the cross outward. To escape it is impossible. To pass to glory without it, is to go by another way than God’s ordering, and in the end to fail of arriving there. The gate is strait, and the way is narrow, which leads unto life; and a man must become nothing, if he would enter and be saved. He must deny himself—he must become a fool that he may be wise—he must receive the sentence of death in himself, that he should not trust in himself. The wise man must cease to glory in his wisdom, the mighty man must cease to glory in his might, the rich man must cease to glory in his riches, and their only ground of glory in themselves must be their insufficiency, infirmity, poverty, and weakness; and their only ground of glory out of themselves must be, that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The believer in Jesus, then, must not forget that if the path he treads is rough and thorny, if the sky is wintry, if the storm is severe, and the cross He bears is heavy, that yet this is the road to heaven. He is but in the wilderness, why should He expect more than belongs to the wilderness state? He is on a journey, why should he look for more than a traveler’s fare? He is far from home, why should He murmur and repine that he has not all the rest, the comfort, and the luxuries of his Father’s house? If your covenant God and Father has allotted to you poverty, be satisfied that it should be your state, yes, rejoice in it. If bitter adversity, if deep affliction, if the daily and the heavy cross, be your portion, yet, breathe not one murmur, but rather rejoice that you are led into the path that Jesus Himself walked in, to “go forth by the footsteps of the flock,” and that you are counted worthy thus to be one in circumstance with Christ and his people.

June 25: A Heavenly Reunion

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” Rev. 7:9-10

WITH the unveiled sight of the glorified Redeemer, will be associated the certain reunion and perfected communion of all the glorified saints. We are far from placing this feature of glory in an obscure distance of our picture of heavenly happiness. A source of so much pure and hallowed enjoyment now, surely will not be wanting nor be more limited hereafter. It is a high enjoyment of earth, that of sanctified relationships and sacred friendships. The communion of renewed intellect, the union of genial minds, and the fellowship of loving and sympathizing hearts, God sometimes kindly vouchsafes, to smooth and brighten our rough and darksome path to the grave. But death interposes and sunders these precious ties. And are they sundered forever? Oh, no!

We shall meet again all from whom in faith and hope we parted—whom we loved in Jesus, and who in Jesus have fallen asleep. “For we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they.” Heart-breaking as was the separation, it was not final, nor will it be long. The time-piece we wear upon our people reminds us at each second, that the period of our reunion is nearing. Yes! we shall meet them again, in closer and purer friendship. They wait and watch for our coming. Do not think that they forget us: that cannot be; and thinking of us, they love us still. The affection they cherished for us here death did not chill; they bore that affection with them from the earthly to the heavenly home; and now, purified and expanded, it glows with an intensity unknown, unfelt before. Heavenly thought is immortal. Holy love never dies. Meeting, we shall know them again; and knowing, we shall rush into their warm embrace, and sever from them—never! “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if ace believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” What a soothing, sanctifying thought—what a heaven-attracting hope is this!

In our anticipations of the coming glory, we must not overlook the glorified body of the saints. The first resurrection will give back this “vile body,” so changed that it shall be “fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body.” We have two examples of what this “glorious body” of our Lord is. The first was at His transfiguration, when the “fashion of His countenance was altered, and His face did shine as the sun, and His clothing was white as the light.” The second was when He appeared to John in Patmos, arrayed in such glory that the apostle says, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.” Fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body, will be the glorified bodies of the saints. No deformity, no wrinkle, no defect whatever, shall mar its beauty. “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. And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

June 24: Unto Zion

“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 35:10

THE absence of all evil will be an eminent feature of the coming glory. Take the long catalogue of ills we suffer here—the cares that corrode, the anxieties that agitate, the sorrows that depress, the bereavements that wound, the diseases that waste, the temptations that assail—in a word, whatever pains a sensitive mind, or wounds a confiding spirit; the rudeness of some, the coldness of others, the unfaithfulness and heartlessness of yet more; and as you trace the sad list, think of glory as the place where not one shall enter. All, all are entirely and eternally absent. “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.”

The presence of all good will take the place of the absence of all evil. And in the foreground of this picture of glory we place the full, unclouded vision of Jesus. This is the Sun that will bathe all other objects in its beams. We see Him now through faith’s telescope, and how lovely does He appear! Distant and dim as is the vision, yet so overpowering is its brightness, as for a moment to eclipse every other object. How near He is brought to us, and how close we feel to Him! Encircled and absorbed by His presence, all other beings seem an intrusion, and all other joys an impertinence. Reposing upon His bosom, how sweetly sounds His voice, and how winning His language: “O my dove, that are in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely.” These are happy moments.

But how transient, and how brief their stay! Some earthly vapor floats athwart our glass, and the bright and blissful vision is gone—veiled in clouds, it has disappeared from our view! But not lost is that vision; not withdrawn is that object. As stars that hide themselves awhile, then appear again in brighter, richer luster, so will return each view we have had of Christ. The eye that has once caught a view of the Savior shall never lose sight of Him forever. Long and dreary nights may intervene; the vision may tarry as though it would never come again, yet those nights shall pass away, that vision shall return, and “we shall see Him as He is.” And if the distant and fitful glimpses of the glorified Christ are now so ravishing, what will the ecstatic and overpowering effect of the full unclouded vision be, when we shall see Him face to face?

June 21: Press In Humble Faith

“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Romans 8:33

WHO in heaven; who on earth; who in hell? God will not; sin cannot; Satan dare not. Who? If there be in this wide universe an accuser of those whom God has justified, let him appear. There is none! Every mouth is closed.

“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” If there remain a sin unpardoned, a stain uneffaced, a precept unkept, by the Mediator of His Church, let it appear. But there is none! The work of Christ is honorable and glorious. It is a finished work. And on the basis of this complete atonement, God, while He remains just, is the justifier of him that believes.

Oh, embrace this truth, you who, in bitterness of soul, are self-accused and self-condemned before God! Satan could accuse, and the world could accuse, and the saints could accuse, but more severe and true than all, is the self-accusation which lays your mouth in the dust, in the deepest, lowliest contrition. Yet, as a poor sinner, looking to Jesus, resting in Jesus, accepted in Jesus; who shall lay anything legally to our charge, since it is God—the God against whom you have sinned—who Himself becomes your Justifier? May you not, with all lowliness, yet with all holy boldness, challenge every foe, in the prophetic words of Christ Himself-“He is near that justifies me: who will contend with me?”

This truth is an elevating, because a deeply sanctifying one. It exalts the principles, and these, in their turn, exalt the practice of the Christian. The thought that it is God who justifies us at an expense to Himself so vast, by a sacrifice to Himself so precious, surely is sufficiently powerful to give the greatest intensity to our pantings, and fervency to our prayers, for conformity to the Divine image. Deep sorrows, and sore trials, and fiery temptations we may have, and must have, if we ever enter the kingdom; but, what is sorrow, what is trial, what is temptation, if they work but in us the fruits of righteousness, fit us more perfectly for heaven, and waft us nearer to our eternal home?

Press, in humble faith, this precious truth to your heart; for God has forgiven all, and has cancelled all, and has forgotten all, and is your God forever and ever. “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, says the Lord.”

On Jordon’s Stormy Banks

“The swelling of Jordan”—words of solemn import, calculated to convey to the believing mind a gloomy idea of death. That there are swellings of Jordan in the Christian’s experience we doubt not. For example, there are the fears with which the child of God anticipates the last enemy—there are the sad recollections of all his past sins crowding around his pillow—there are the suggestions of unbelief, perhaps more numerous and powerful at this moment than ever—and there is the shrinking of nature from the final wrench, the last conflict, the closing scene—the last glance of earth, the last look of love, the loosing of those fond and tender ties which entwine us so closely with those we leave—these are some of the swellings of Jordan.

Continue reading “On Jordon’s Stormy Banks”

June 6: The Power Of A Holy Life Lived

“The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.” Psalm 112:6

HOW great the power and charm of a holy life! The world is replete with beauty. There is beauty in nature, beauty in art, beauty in countless forms; but there is no beauty like “the beauty of holiness.” The brightness which gleams through a good man’s life outshines the sun in its meridian splendor.

The world, too, is mighty in its forces. There is the power of intellect, of learning, and of genius, the power of wealth, of influence, and of rank; but there is no power so commanding and so effective as the power of holiness. The power it wields is omnipotent for the achievement of good. And a more precious and enduring legacy parental affluence and affection cannot bequeath to posterity, than the record of a life traced by the sanctifying influence of faith, the achievements of prayer, and the endowments of holiness. Such a life is a living demonstration of the Divinity of the Bible, and does more to confirm its veracity, and spread its truths through the world, than all that has ever been spoken or written on the evidences of Christianity.

How measureless the loss of such saints of God! To their family and friends, to the Church of Christ and the world, the withdrawal forever from earth of their living piety, fervent prayers, holy conversation, and consistent example, is a serious and far-reaching calamity. And yet they still live among us, not in our hearts and memories only, but in the undying influence of a holy life. “The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.” The grave hides them from sight, but not from memory. Neither the green turf nor the salt wave can bury the still surviving and still molding recollections of the holy dead.

In the embalmed remembrance of their graces, their prayers, and their actions, they still live to guide, stimulate, and cheer us in our homeward march. Nor do we cease to live with them. They remember and love us still. Bearing their friendships with them to the skies, purified, sublimated, and enlarged, they yet think of us, yearn over us, and pant to have us with them there, with a tenderness of interest, and an intensity of affection, such as they never felt on earth. For anything that we know, they still hover around our people, encompassing our path to the abodes of bliss. Angels are ministering agents to the heirs of salvation; and may we not suppose that many of the glorified spirits of “just men made perfect” are gifted with a like embassy? “They serve Him day and night in His temple;” and who will say that it may not enter essentially into that service for the Lord, to administer in some unknown way to their former companions in tribulation, and the expectant sharers of their glory?

But until we rejoin them in the home of the Father, we should think of them but to follow their holy example, to gather encouragement from their faith and patience, to learn lessons from their failings, and to take up and carry forward the work of the Lord, which dropped from their dying hands; until we, too, are summoned to rest from our labors, and receive our reward.

April 19: The Mount Of Zion

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. Rev. 14:1

DO NOT FORGET, O believer, that you are journeying to the mount of God, and will soon be there. Behold it in the distance! What wonders encircle it! What glory bathes it! The exile of Patmos, lifting a corner of the veil, has presented it to our view in the words of our motto. Oh what a spectacle of magnificence is this! There is Jesus the Lamb as it had been slain. To Him every face is turned, on Him every eye is fixed, before Him every knee bends, and every tongue chants His praise, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” Around Him are gathering each moment the One Church of God, redeemed from among men. In the light and splendor of the scene all distinctions are absorbed, all minds assimilate, all hearts blend, all voices harmonize, and the grand, visible manifestation of the Unity of the Church is perfected.

To this consummation you are hastening—keep it full in view. Turn not aside, yielding to the enchanting scenes through which you pass; but forgetting the things that are behind, press forward to the mark of the prize of your high calling of God in Christ Jesus. To Mount Zion you will certainly arrive at last. Your feet shall stand upon its summit. Your voice shall blend with its music. Your heart shall thrill with its gladness. Your soul shall bathe in its glory. Oh! kindles not your spirit with ardor, and is not your heart winged with love, while the mount of God unveils its splendor to your view?

Speak, Elijah! for you have reached that exaltation, and tell us what it is to be there! No, you cannot tell. You have heard its deep songs of joy—but their strains are unutterable. You have seen its ineffable glory—but that glory is unspeakable. Let but your mantle fall upon us, and a double portion of your spirit be ours, and at our departure let your chariot of fire convey us to the skies, and we will be content to wait and gaze for awhile upon the distant vision—like some early traveler pausing upon the mountain’s side to admire the ascending sun, until his features and his vestments borrow the crimson glow—until, “changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord,” we reach it at last, and delight ourselves forever amid its transcendent beams—ceasing from our conflict, and reposing from our toil, in the beatific presence of God!

February 24: At The Right Hand Of The Father

When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:3

WHAT a blessed declaration is this!—the words are inexpressibly sweet. Having finished His work, having made an end of sin, having brought in an everlasting righteousness, having risen from the grave, having ascended up on high, Christ has sat down at the right hand of God, reposing in the full satisfaction, glory, and expectancy of His redeeming work. And for what object is He there seated? Why is He thus presented to the eye of faith? That the Church of God might have visibly and constantly before its view a risen, living Christ.

Oh how constantly is the Lord teaching us that there is but one Being who can meet our case, and but one Object on which our soul’s affections ought to be supremely placed—even a risen Savior. We have temptations various; trials the world know nothing of, crosses which those who know and love us the most, never suspect; for often the heart’s acutest sorrow is the least discoverable upon the surface.

But here is our great mercy—Christ is alive. What if we are unknown, tried, tempted, and sad; we yet have a risen Savior to go to, who, as Rutherford says, “sighs when I sigh, mourns when I mourn, and when I look up He rejoices.” How can I want for sympathy, when I have a risen Christ? how can I feel alone and sad, when I have the society and the soothing of a living and an ever present Jesus—a Jesus who loves me, who knows all my circumstances, all my feelings, and has His finger upon my every pulse—who sees all my tears, hears all my sighs, and records all my thoughts—who, go to Him when I will, and with what I will, will never say to me no, nor bid me depart unblest—who is risen, exalted, and is set down at the right hand of His Father and my Father, His God and my God, to administer to me all the blessings of the everlasting covenant, and to mete out, as I need them, all the riches of His grace and the supplies of His salvation? Why then should I despond at any circumstance, why despair at any emergency, or sink beneath any trial, when I have a risen, a living Christ to go to?

Oh the amazing power of the Lord’s resurrection! Oh the preciousness of the fruit that springs from it! Communion with our heavenly Father, near walking with God, a life of faith in Christ, living on high—living not only on Christ’s fullness, but on Christ himself; not only on what He has, but on what He is, in His godhead, in His humanity, in the tenderness of His heart, as well as the fullness of His salvation; living in the blessed anticipation of glory, and honor, and immortality; rising in the morning and saying, “This day, and every day, I would consecrate to my God;”—these are some of the fadeless flowers and precious fruits that grow around the grave of Jesus, when faith, listening to the voice that issues from the vacant sepulcher—”He is not here, but is risen”—looks up and beholds Him alive, “seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Then, oh then, it exclaims in a transport of joy, “Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none upon earth I desire beside you,” you risen, living, and glorious Redeemer!

“Oh, there is nothing in yon bright sky,
Worthy this worthless heart to own;
On earth there’s nothing; friends, creatures, fly;
I pant, my Lord, for You alone.”

February 19: A Day Like Earth Never Saw

Until the day dawn. 2 Peter 1:19.

THERE awaits the believer such a day as earth never saw, but as earth will surely see—the daybreak of glory. Oh, what a day is this! It will be “as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds.” Grace now yields its long-held empire, and glory begins its brilliant and endless reign. The way-worn “child of the day” has emerged from the shadows of his pilgrimage, and has entered that world of which it is said, “there shall be no night there.” Contemplate some of the attributes of this day of glory.

It will be a day of perfect knowledge. When it is said that there will be no night in heaven, it is equivalent to the assertion that there will be no intellectual darkness in heaven; consequently there will be perfect intellectual light. It is said that we shall then “know every as also we are known.” The entire history of God’s government will then be spread out before the glorified saint, luminous in its own unveiled and yet undazzling brightness. The mysteries of providence, and the yet profounder mysteries of grace, which obscured much of the glory of that government, will then be unfolded to the wonder and admiration of the adoring mind.

The misconceptions we had formed, the mistakes we had made, the discrepancies we had imagined, the difficulties that impeded us, the controversies that agitated us, all, all will now be cleared up—the day has broken, and the shadows have fled forever. Oh, blessed day of perfect knowledge, which will then give me reason to see that all the way along which my God is now leading me, through a world of shadows, is a right way; and that where I most trembled, there I had most reason to stand firm; and that where I most yielded to fear, there I had the greatest ground for confidence; and that where my heart was the most collapsed with grief, there it had the greatest reason to awaken its strings to the most joyous melody.

It will be a day of perfect freedom from all sorrow. It must be so, since it is written, that “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.” What a cluster of sweet hopes is there! What a collection of bright beams, throwing, in focal power, their splendover that cloudless day! Child of sorrow! sick ones dear to Christ! bereaved mourners! hear you these precious words, and let music break from your lips! God will dry your tears. As the mother comforts her sorrowing one, so God will comfort His. Yes, child of grief, there will be no more weeping then; for—oh, ecstatic thought!—”God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” And “there shall be no more death.”

No more rending asunder of affection’s close and tender ties; no more separations from the hearts we love; the mourners no more go about the streets; for death is now swallowed up in victory! “Neither sorrow, nor crying.” Grief cannot find existence or place in an atmosphere of such bliss. No frustrated plans, no bitter disappointments, no withered hopes, no corroding cares, there mingle with the deep sea of bliss, now pouring its tide of joyousness over the soul. “Neither shall there be any more pain.” Children of suffering! hear you this. There will be no more pain racking the frame, torturing the limbs, and sending its influence through the system, until every nerve and fibre quivers with an indescribable agony. “The former things are passed away.”

It will be a day of perfect freedom from all sins. Ah! this methinks will be the brightest and sweetest of all the joys of heaven. The Canaanite will no more dwell in the land. Inbred corruption will be done away; the conflict within us will have ceased; no evil heart will betray into inconsistencies and sorrows; not a cloud of guilt will tarnish the unsullied purity of the soul. You holy ones of God! weeping, mourning over indwelling and outbreaking sin, the last sigh you heave will be a glad adieu to pollution—to be tormented with it no more, to be free from it forever. “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with your likeness.”

This is heaven indeed.