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.”

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October 23: The First Works

“Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” Revelation 2:5

Let the backsliding believer be brought to this first step. “Remember from where you are fallen”—revert to your past history, your former spiritual state—remember your first sorrow for sin, the first joy of its pardon—remember the spring-tide of your first love—how precious Jesus was, how glorious was His person, how sweet was His cross, how fragrant was His name, how rich was His grace—remember how dear to you was the throne of grace, how frequently you resorted to it, regarding it of all spots on earth the most blessed—remember how, under the anointings of adopting love, you walked with God as with a Father—how filial, how close, how holy was your communion with Him—remember the seasons of refreshing in the sanctuary, in the social meeting, in the closet; how your soul did seem to dwell on the sunny sides of glory, and you longed for the wings of a dove that you might fly to your Lord; remember how, publicly and before many witnesses, you put off sin and put on Christ, and; turning your back upon the world, took your place among the followers of the Lamb—remember how holy, and circumspect, and spotless your walk, how tender was your conscience, how guileless was your spirit, how humble and lovely your whole deportment.

But what and where are you now? Oh, remember from where you are fallen! Think from what a high profession, from what an elevated walk, from what holy employments, from what hallowed joys, from what sweet delights, and from what pleasant ways have you declined!

But in the exhortation given to the backsliding church at Ephesus, there is yet another instruction equally applicable to the case of all wanderers from the Lord: “Repent, and do the first works.” How can a departing soul return without repentance? by what other avenue can the prodigal reach his Father’s heart?

Repentance implies the existence and conviction of sin. Ah! is it no sin, beloved reader, to have turned your back upon God? is it no sin to have lost your first love, to have backslidden from Jesus, to have transferred your affections from Him to the world, or to the creature, or to yourself? is it no sin to go no more with the Shepherd, and to follow no more the footsteps of the flock, and to feed no more in the green pastures, or repose by the side of the still waters?

Oh yes! it is a sin of peculiar magnitude; it is a sin against God in the character of a loving Father, against Jesus in the character of a tender Redeemer, against the Holy Spirit in the character of a faithful Indweller and a Sanctifier; it is a sin against the most precious experience of His grace, against the most melting exhibitions of His love, and against the most tender proofs of His covenant faithfulness.

Repent, then, of this your sin. Think how you have wounded Jesus afresh, and repent; think how you have requited your Father’s love, and repent; think how you have grieved the Spirit, and repent. Humble yourself in dust and ashes before the cross, and through that cross look up again to your forgiving God and Father. The sweet promise is, “They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son.”

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.

October 15: Confession Of Sin

“He looks upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.” Job 33:27, 28

Let the child of God be encouraged to take all his sins to his heavenly Father. Have you sinned? Have you taken a single step in departure from God? Is there the slightest consciousness of guilt? Go at once to the throne of grace; stay not until you find some secret place for confession—stay not until you are alone; lift up your heart at once to God, and confess your sin with the hand of faith upon the great, atoning Sacrifice. Open all your heart to Him. Do not be afraid of a full and honest confession. Shrink not from unfolding its most secret recesses—lay all bare before His eyes.

Do you think He will turn from the exposure? Do you think He will close His ear against your breathings? Oh no! Listen to His own encouraging, persuasive declarations—”Go and proclaim these words towards the north, and say, Return, you backsliding Israel, says the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, says the Lord; and I will not keep anger forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity that you have transgressed against the Lord your God.” “I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him.”

Oh, what words are these! Does the eye of the poor backslider fall on this page? And as he now reads of God’s readiness to pardon—of God’s willingness to receive back the repenting prodigal—of His yearning after His wandering child—feels his heart melted, his soul subdued, and, struck with that amazing declaration, “Only acknowledge your iniquity,” would dare creep down at His feet, and weep, and mourn, and confess. Oh! is there one such now reading this page? then return, my brother, return! God—the God against whom you have sinned—says, “Return.” Your Father—the Father from whom you have wandered—is looking out for the first return of your soul, for the first kindlings of godly sorrow, for the first confession of sin.

God has not turned His back upon you, though you have turned your back upon Him. God has not forgotten to be gracious, though you have forgotten to be faithful. “I remember you”—is His own touching language—”the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals.” Oh! then, come back; this moment, come back; the fountain is still open—Jesus is still the same—the blessed and eternal Spirit, loving and faithful as ever—God ready for pardon: take up, then, the language of the prodigal and say, “I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight, and am no more worthy to be called Your son.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The blessings that result from a strict observance of daily confession of sin are rich and varied. We would from the many specify two. The conscience retains its tender susceptibility of guilt. Just as a breath will tarnish a mirror highly polished, so will the slightest aberration of the heart from God—the smallest sin—leave its impression upon a conscience in the habit of a daily unburdening itself in confession, and of a daily washing in the fountain. Going thus to God, and acknowledging iniquity over the head of Immanuel—pleading the atoning blood—the conscience retains its tenderness, and sin, all sin, is viewed as that which God hates, and the soul abhors.

This habit, too, keeps, so to speak, a clear account between God and the believer. Sins daily and hourly committed are not forgotten; they fade not from the mind, and therefore they need not the correcting rod to recall them to remembrance. For let us not forget, God will eventually bring our sins to remembrance; “He will call to remembrance the iniquity.” David had forgotten his sin against God, and his treacherous conduct to Uriah, until God sent the prophet Nathan to bring his iniquity to remembrance. A daily confession, then, of sin, a daily washing in the fountain, will preserve the believer from many and, perhaps, deep afflictions. This was David’s testimony—”I acknowledged my sin unto You, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgression unto the Lord, and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

October 5: Neglect Of Prayer

“Yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand your truth. Therefore has the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he does.” Daniel 9:13, 14

All backsliding has its commencement in the neglect of prayer: it may date its beginning at the throne of grace. The restraining of prayer before God was the first step in departure; and the first step taken, and not immediately retraced, was quickly succeeded by others.

Reader, do you tremble at the possibility of ever becoming a backslider? do you dread the thought of wounding Jesus, then restrain not prayer before God; vigilantly guard against the first symptom of declension in this holy exercise, or if that symptom has already appeared, haste you to the dear Physician, who alone has power to arrest its progress, and heal your soul.

A distant walk from God will super-induce distant thoughts of God, and this is no light consequence of the soul’s declension in the spirit and habit of prayer. If the simple axiom be true, that the more intimate we become with any object, the better we are prepared to judge of its nature and properties, we may apply it with peculiar appropriateness to our acquaintance with God. The encouraging invitation of His word is, “Acquaint now yourself with God, and be at peace.”

Now, it is this acquaintance with God that brings us into the knowledge of His character as a holy, loving, and faithful God; and it is this knowledge of His character that begets love and confidence in the soul towards Him. The more we know of God, the more we love Him: the more we try Him, the more we confide in Him. Let the spiritual reader, then, conceive what dire effects must result from a distant walk with God.

When He appears in His corrective dealings, how will those dealings be interpreted in the distant walk of the soul? As of a covenant God? as of a loving Father? No, far from it. They will receive a harsh and unkind interpretation, and this will neutralize their effect: for in order to reap the proper fruit of the Lord’s dealings with the soul, it is necessary that they should be viewed in the light of His faithfulness and love. The moment they are otherwise interpreted, the soul starts off from God, and wraps itself up in gloomy and repulsive views of His character, and government, and dealings. But this will assuredly follow from a distant walk. Oh guard against a declension in prayer; let there be no distance between God and your soul!

Do not forget that the season of trial and of bereavement is often the sanctified occasion of a revival of prayer in the soul. The Lord has marked your wanderings, He has had His eye upon the declension of your soul. That voice, always so pleasant to His ear, has ceased to call upon Him; and now He would recover you; He would hear that voice again, and how will He effect it?

He causes you to “pass under the rod,” sends some sore trial, lays on you some weighty cross, brings trouble and sorrow into your soul, and then you cry unto Him, and do besiege the mercy-seat. Oh how eagerly is God sought, how attractive and how precious does the throne of grace become, when the soul is thus led into deep waters of trial! No longer silent, no longer dumb, the believer calls upon God, pleads with “strong crying and tears,” wrestles and agonizes, and thus the slumbering spirit of prayer is stirred up and revived in the soul. Oh sweet affliction, oh precious discipline, that brings back the wandering soul to a closer and a holier walk with God!

Again we exhort the believer—guard against the least declension in prayer; let the first unfavorable symptom that appears alarm you, go to the Lord in your worst frames; stay not from Him until you get a good one. Satan’s grand argument to keep a soul from prayer is—”Go not with that cold and insensible frame; go not with that hard and sinful heart; stay until you are more fit to approach God!” and listening to this specious reasoning, many poor, distressed, burdened, longing souls have been kept from the throne of grace, and consequently from all comfort and consolation.

But the gospel says—”Go in your very worst frames;” Christ says—”Come just as you are;” and every promise and every example but encourages the soul to repair to the cross, whatever be its frame or condition.

September 7: A Deeper Filling

“Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?”

What the Church of God needs as a Church we equally need as individual Christians—the deeper baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Reader, why is it that you are not more settled in the truth—your feet more firm upon the Rock? Why are you not more rejoicing in Christ Jesus, the pardoning blood more sensibly applied to the conscience, the seal of adoption more deeply impressed upon your heart, “Abba, Father” more frequently, and with stronger, sweeter accent, on your lips? Why are you, perhaps, so yielding in temptation, so irresolute in purpose, so feeble in action, so vacillating in pursuit, so faint in the day of adversity? Why is the glory of Jesus so dimly seen, His preciousness so little felt, His love so imperfectly experienced? Why is there so little close, secret transaction between God and your soul?—so little searching of heart, confession of sin, dealing with the atoning blood? Why does the conscience so much lack tenderness, and the heart brokenness, and the spirit contrition? And why is the throne of grace so seldom resorted to, and prayer itself felt to be so much a duty, and so little a privilege, and, when engaged in, so faintly characterized with the humble brokenness of a penitent sinner, the filial boldness of an adopted child, the rich anointing of a royal priest?

Ah! let the small measure in which you have received the Holy Spirit’s influence supply the answer. “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?”—have you received Him as a Witness, as a Sealer, as a Teacher, as an Indweller, as a Comforter, as the Spirit of adoption? But, rather, have you not forgotten that your Lord was alive, and upon the throne exalted, to give you the Holy Spirit, and that more readily than a father is to give good gifts to his child? That He is prepared now to throw back the windows of heaven, and pour down upon you such a blessing as shall confirm your faith, resolve your doubts, annihilate your fears, arm you for the fight, strengthen you for the trial, give you an unclouded view of your acceptance in the Beloved, and assure you that your “name is written among the living in Jerusalem”?

Then, as you value the light of God’s countenance, as you desire to grow in a knowledge of Christ, as you long to be more “steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” oh, seek to enjoy, in a larger degree, the presence, the love, the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Christ has gone up on high to give to you this invaluable blessing, and says for your encouragement, “Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

August 15: Come Saint & Sinner

“My wayward children,” says the Lord, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.”
“Yes, we will come,” the people reply, “for you are the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 3:22

Do not stay away from the throne of grace because of an unfavorable frame of mind. If God is ready to receive you just as you are; if no questions are asked, and no examination is instituted, and no exceptions are made on account of the badness of the state; then count it your mercy to go to God with your worst feelings. To linger away from the throne of grace because of unfitness and unpreparedness to approach it, is to alter its character from a throne of grace to a throne of merit.

If the Lord’s ears are only open to the cry of the righteous when they seek Him in certain good and acceptable frames of mind, then He hears them for their frames, and not because He is a God of grace. But He can never alter His character, or change the foundation of His throne. It is the mercy-seat; the throne of grace; and not for any frame, either good or bad, in the suppliant does He bow His ear, but for His own mercy’s sake. Yield not, then, to this device of your adversary, to keep you from prayer.

It is the privilege of a poor soul to go to Jesus in his worst frame; to go in darkness, to go in weak faith, to go when everything says, “Stay away,” to go in the face of opposition, to hope against hope; to go in the consciousness of having walked at a distance, to press through the crowd to the throne of grace, to take the hard, the cold, the reluctant heart, and lay it before the Lord. Oh what a triumph is this of the power and the grace of the blessed Spirit in a poor believer!

Dear reader, what is your state? Are you feeble in prayer? Are you tried in prayer? And yet, is there anything of real need, of real desire in the heart? Is it so? Then, draw near to God. Your frame will not be more favorable tomorrow than it is today. You will not be more acceptable or more welcome at any future period than at this moment. Give yourself unto prayer.

I will suppose your state to be the worst that can be; your frame of mind the most unfavorable, your cross the heaviest, your corruption the strongest, your heart the hardest; yet betaking yourself to the throne of grace, and, with groanings that cannot be uttered, opening your case to the Lord, you shall adopt the song of David, who could say in the worst of frames, and in most pressing times, “But I give myself unto prayer.” “Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and he heard me. He set me free from all my fears.” Psalm 34:3-6

July 31: The Idol Of Self

“Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.” Psalm 131:2

The first object from which our heavenly Father weans His child is self. Of all idols, he finds self the hardest to abandon. When man in Paradise aspired to be as God, God was dethroned from his soul, and the creature became as a deity to itself. From that moment, the idolatry of self has been the great and universal crime of our race, and will continue to be until Christ comes to restore all things.

In the soul of the regenerate, Divine grace has done much to dethrone this idol, and to reinstate God. The work, however, is but partially accomplished. The dishonored and rejected rival is not eager to relinquish his throne, and yield to the supreme control and sway of another. There is much yet to be achieved before this still indwelling and unconquered foe lays down his weapons in entire subjection to the will and the authority of that Savior, whose throne and rights he has usurped.

Thus, much still lingers in the heart which the Spirit has renewed and inhabits, of self-esteem, self-confidence, self-seeking, and self-love. From all this our Father seeks to wean us.

From our own wisdom, which is but folly; from our own strength, which is but weakness; from our own wills, which are often as an uncurbed steed; from our own ways, which are crooked; from our own hearts, which are deceitful; from our own judgments, which are dark; from our own ends, which are narrow and selfish, He would wean and detach us, that our souls may get more and more back to their original center of repose–God Himself.

In view of this mournful exhibition of fallen and corrupt self, how necessary the discipline of our heavenly Father that extorts from us the Psalmist’s language, “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of this mother”!

Self did seem to be our mother–the fruitful parent of so much in our plans and aims and spirit that was dishonoring to our God. From this He would gently and tenderly, but effectually, wean us, that we may learn to rely upon His wisdom, to repose in His strength, to consult His honor, and to seek His glory and smile, supremely and alone.

And oh! how effectually is this blessed state attained when God, by setting us aside in the season of solitude and sorrow, teaches us that He can do without us. We perhaps thought that our rank, or our talents, or our influence, or our very presence were essential to the advancement of His cause, and that some parts of it could not proceed without us! The Lord knew otherwise.

And so He laid His hand upon us, and withdrew us from the scene of our labors and duties, engagements and ambition, that He might hide pride from our hearts–the pride of self-importance. And oh, is it no mighty attainment in the Christian life to be thus weaned from ourselves!

Beloved, it forms the root of all other blessing. The moment we learn to cease from ourselves–from our own wisdom, and power, and importance–the Lord appears and takes us up. Then His wisdom is displayed, His power is put forth, His glory is developed, and His great name gets to itself all the praise. It was not until God had placed Moses in the cleft of the rock, that His glory passed by. Moses must be hid, that God might be all.

July 23: My Soul Cleaves Unto The Dust

“I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word.” Psalm 119:25

Ah! how many whose eye scans this page may take up and breathe David’s words. You feel a deadness, a dullness, and an earthliness in spiritual enjoyments, and duties, and privileges, in which your whole soul should be all life, all fervor, all love. You are low where you ought to be elevated; you grovel where you ought to soar; you cleave to the earth where you ought to be embracing the heavens. Your thoughts are low; your affections are low; your feelings are low; your spirits are low; and you seem almost ready to question the existence of the life of God in your soul.

But even in this sad and depressed state may there not be something cheering, encouraging, hopeful? There was evidently in David’s–”My soul cleaves unto the dust: quicken me.” This was the cheering, encouraging, hopeful feature in the Psalmists’s case–his breathing after the requickening of the Divine life of his soul. Here was that which marked him a man of God. It was a living man complaining of his deadness, and breathing after more life. It was a heaven-born soul lamenting its earthliness, and panting after more of heaven. It was a spiritual man mourning over his carnality, and praying for more spirituality. It is not the prayer of one conscious of the low state of His soul, and yet satisfied with that state.

“I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word.” Perhaps no expression is more familiar to the ear, and no acknowledgment is more frequently on the lips of religious professors, than this. And yet where is the accompanying effort to rise above it? Where is the putting on of the armor? Where is the conflict? Where is the effort to emerge from the dust, to break away from the enthrallment, and soar into a higher and purer region? Alas! many from whose lips smoothly glides the humiliating confession still embrace the dust, and seem to love the dust, and never stretch their pinions to rise above it.

But let us study closely this lesson of David’s experience, that while deep lamentation filled his heart, and an honest confession breathed from his lips, there was also a breathing, a panting of soul, after a higher and a better state. He seemed to say–”Lord, I am prostrate, but I long to rise; I am fettered, but I struggle to be free; my soul cleaves to the dust, but quicken me!” Similar to this was the state of the Church, so graphically depicted by Solomon in his Song–”I sleep, but my heart wakes.”

July 20: Except You Repent

“Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5

This was the doctrine which our Lord preached; and so did His apostles, when they declared, “God now commands all men everywhere to repent.”

No command, no duty, can be more distinctly, intelligently, and solemnly defined and urged than this. But the inquirer will ask, “What is repentance?” The reply is–it is that secret grace that lays the soul low before God–self loathed; sin abhorred, confessed, and forsaken. It is the abasement and humiliation of a man, because of the sinfulness of his nature and the sins of his life, before the holy, heart-searching Lord God.

The more matured believer is wont to look upon a broken and contrite spirit, flowing from a sight of the cross, as the most precious fruit found in his soul. No moments to him are so hallowed, so solemn, or so sweet, as those spent in bathing the Savior’s feet with tears.

There is indeed a bitterness in the grief which a sense of sin produces; and this, of all other bitterness, is the greatest. He knows, from experience, that it is an “evil thing and bitter, that he has forsaken the Lord his God.” Nevertheless, there is a sweetness, an indescribable sweetness, which must be experienced to be understood, blended with the bitterness of a heart broken for sin, from a sight of the cross of the incarnate God. Oh, precious tears wept beneath that cross!

“For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” But how shall I portray the man who is of a contrite and humble spirit?

He is one who truly knows the evil of sin, for he has felt it. He apprehends, in some degree, the holiness of God’s character, and the spirituality of His law, for he has seen it. His views of himself have undergone a radical change. He no longer judges of himself as others judge of him. They exalt him; he abases himself. They approve; he condemns.

And in that very thing for which they most extol him he is humbling himself in secret. While others are applauding actions, he is searching into motives; while they are extolling virtues, he is sifting principles; while they are weaving the garland for his brow, he, shut in alone with God, is covering himself with sackcloth and with ashes.

Oh precious fruit of a living branch of the true vine! Is it any wonder, then, that God should come and dwell with such a one, in whom is found something so good towards Him? Oh, no! He delights to see us in this posture–to mark a soul walking before Him in a conscious sense of its poverty; the eye drawing from the cross its most persuasive motives to a deep prostration of soul at His feet. Dear reader, to know what a sense of God’s reconciling love is–to know how skillfully, tenderly, and effectually Jesus binds up and heals–your spirit must be wounded, and your heart must be broken for sin.

Oh, it were worth an ocean of tears to experience the loving gentleness of Christ’s hand in drying them. Has God ever said of you, as He said of Ahab, “See how he humbles himself before me?” Search and ascertain if this good fruit is found in your soul.