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.”

April 9: To Be Brought To The Fountain

“He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” John 16:15

The Spirit is the Great Conveyancer of Christ to the soul. Placing Himself between the Fountain and the believer, He purposes to convey all blessing, to supply all need, by taking the things of Christ’s mediatorial fulness, and bringing them into our blest and holy experience.

Having gone before to prepare the soul for the blessing, by discovering its poverty of state, and creating its poverty of spirit, He now takes of the atoning blood and applies it to the conscience; the justifying righteousness, and wraps it around the soul; the sanctifying grace, and conducts it into the heart.

In a word, He reveals Jesus to the mind, testifies of Christ to the soul- how divine He is, therefore able to save; how loving He is, therefore as willing as He is able; how gracious He is, therefore stooping to our lowest circumstance; how tender He is, therefore trampling not upon our weak faith, nor despising our little grace; how sympathizing He is, therefore turning not away His ear, and withdrawing not His heart from our tale of sorrow or our burden of grief.

Oh, what a Glorifier of Christ is the Divine Spirit! All that we truly know of Jesus, all that we have inwardly experienced of His grace, has been of His teaching and conveyance. He has conducted us to the Fountain- He has led us to the robing-chamber of the King- He has anointed us with the “oil of gladness,”- He has caused our “garments to smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia; out of the ivory palaces,”- He has opened the treasury, taking of the precious, glorious things of a precious, glorious Christ, spreading them out in all their vastness, suitableness, and freeness before our longing eye.

How often, when the soul has hungered, He has broken up to us the bread that came down from heaven! when it has thirsted, He has smitten the rock, and satiated us with its life-giving stream! How often, when guilt has distressed us, He has sprinkled anew the peace-speaking blood; and when sorrow has oppressed, and difficulties have embarrassed, and dependences have failed, and resources have become exhausted, and creatures most deeply loved have most deeply wounded us, He, the tender, loving Comforter, He, the blessed Teacher, He, the great Glorifier of Jesus, has given to us some new and appropriate and precious view of our Immanuel; and in a moment the storm has passed, the waves have stilled, and peace, serenity, and joy have shed their luster on the soul.

One glimpse of Jesus in deep tribulation, one glance in heart-rending bereavement, one discovery of His countenance when all is dark, and dreary, and desolate, one surprisal of His love when the heart sinks into loneliness, one touch of His cross when it is depressed, and bowed, and broken by sin- oh, it is as though heaven had expanded its gates, and we had passed within, where neither tribulation, nor bereavement, nor darkness, nor loneliness, nor sin, is known any more forever!

February 25: Waiting Upon The Lord

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7.

It is just this simple, patient waiting upon God in all our straits that certainly and effectually issues in our deliverance. In all circumstances of faith’s trial, of prayer’s delay, of hope deferred, the most proper and graceful posture of the soul- that which insures the largest revenue of blessing to us and of glory to God- is a patient waiting on the Lord.

Although our impatience will not cause God to break His covenant, nor violate His oath, yet a patient waiting will bring down larger and richer blessings. The moral discipline of patience is most costly. It keeps the soul humble, believing, prayerful. The mercy in which it results is all the more prized and precious from the long season of hopeful expectation. It is possible to receive a return too speedily. In our eagerness to grasp the mercy with one hand, we may lose our hold on faith and prayer and God with the other.

A patient waiting of the Lord’s time and mode of appearing in our behalf will tend to check all unworthy and unwise expedients and attempts at self-rescue. An immediate deliverance may be purchased at a price too costly. Its present taste may be sweet, but afterwards it may be bitter- God embittering the blessing that was not sought with a single eye to His glory. God’s time, though it tarry, and God’s deliverance, though delayed, when it comes proves always to have been the best: ” My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from him.”

Her Love To One Book

We must refer to Elizabeth’s love to the Bible as forming a remarkable trait in her Christian character worthy of imitation. She may almost be said to have been the child of one book. The Word of God was the instrument of her conversion; and thus early imbibing a deep reverence and love for it — it became her constant, and indeed her only spiritual companion, and the rich storehouse from whence she daily drew the divine nourishment which sustained the life of God in her soul. An instance of her early attachment to the Scriptures may be mentioned. On one occasion, when her papa embarked for Portugal to join his regiment, her mamma gave him the only copy of the Bible which Elizabeth possessed, promising to replace it immediately with another. For sometime this promise, despite of Elizabeth’s earnest and perpetual entreaties, was unfulfilled and evaded. The sense of her loss was acute. Bereft of her Bible, she was bereft of her most precious treasure. Passing one day near a place where Bibles were sold, she stopped her mamma, and said, with imploring earnestness, “O Mamma! I will go down upon my knees to you in this square — if you will but purchase me a precious Bible!” “Alas!” says the mother, “I did not then know the value of it myself — but, blessed be the Lord, she did, and felt its power and comfort too.”

My dear young reader, do you thus prize and read this blessed Book? If you are a believer — then aspire to be a diligent and prayerful student of your Bible. Let it model your Christianity. Allow nothing to prevent its daily anddevout perusal. No other reading, however spiritual and instructive, can supply its place. No other book can be a substitute for the Book of God. Consult it as the your wisest counselor. Carry it with you as you would a lantern in a dark night and along a dangerous path. Let it cast its heaven-beaming rays before and around your uncertain and perilous way. Say with David, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet — and a light unto my path.” Seek to have, by the Spirit’s teaching, its divine truths inwrought with your soul’s experience, that God’s Word may daily quicken and sanctify, comfort, and guide you. “Your Word have I hid in my heart — that I might not sin against You!”

The Officers Daughter

November 17

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

THE holy influence which a believer is called to exert around him will be greatly augmented, and powerfully felt, by an abiding realization of his full and entire acceptance in Christ. The child of God is “the salt of the earth,” “the light of the world,” surrounded by moral putrefaction and darkness. By his holy consistent example, he is to exert a counteracting influence. He is to be purity where there is corruption, he is to be light where there is darkness. And if his walk is consistent, if his life is holy, his example tells, and tells powerfully, upon an ungodly world.

Saints of God catch, as it were, the contagion of his sanctity. The worldling acknowledges the reality of the gospel he professes, and the bold skeptic falls back abashed, and feels “how awful goodness is!” What, then, will so elevate his own piety, and increase the power of his influence, as a realization of his justification by Christ? Oh how this commends the religion of Jesus! We will suppose a Christian parent surrounded by a large circle of unconverted children. They look to him as to a living gospel: they look to him for an exemplification of the truth he believes: they expect to see its influence upon his principles, his temper, his affections, his whole conduct. What, then, must be their impression of the gospel, if they behold their parent always indulging in doubts as to his acceptance, yielding to unbelieving fears as to his calling? Instead of walking in the full assurance of faith, saying with the apostle, “I know whom I have believed”—instead of living in the holy liberty, peace, and comfort of acceptance, there is nothing but distrust, dread, and tormenting fear. How many a child has borne this testimony, “the doubts and fears of my parent have been my great stumbling-block”! Oh, then, for the sake of those around you—for the sake of your children, your connections, your friends, your domestics—realize your full, free, and entire acceptance in Christ.

Is it any marvel, then, that in speaking of His beloved and justified people, God employs in His word language like this: “You are all fair, my love: there is no spot in you.” “He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither has He seen perverseness in Israel”? Carry out this thought. Had there been no iniquity in Jacob? had there been no perverseness in Israel? Read their histories, and what do they develop but iniquity and perverseness of the most aggravated kind? And yet, that God should say He saw no iniquity in Jacob, and no perverseness in Israel, what does it set forth but the glorious work of the adorable Immanuel—the glory, the fitness, the perfection of that righteousness in which they stand “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing”? In themselves vile and worthless, sinful and perverse, deeply conscious before God of possessing not a claim upon His regard, but worthy only of His just displeasure, yet counted righteous in the righteousness of another, fully and freely justified by Christ. Is this doctrine startling to some? Is it considered too great a truth to be received by others? Any other gospel than this, we solemnly affirm, will never save the soul!

The obedience, sufferings, and death of the God-man, made over to the repenting, believing sinner, by an act of free and sovereign grace, is the only plank on which the soul can safely rest—let it attempt the passage across the cold river of death on any other, and it is gone! On this it may boldly venture, and on this it shall be safely and triumphantly carried into the quiet and peaceful haven of future and eternal blessedness. We acknowledge the magnitude of this doctrine; yet it is not to be rejected because of its greatness. It may be profound, almost too deeply so for an angel’s mind—the cherubim may veil their faces, overpowered with its glory, while yet with eager longings they desire to look into it—still may the weakest saint of God receive it, live upon it, walk in it. It is “a deep river, through which an elephant might swim, and which a lamb may ford.”

October 11

“Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

HOW prone is the believer to attach an undue importance to the mere article of comfort! to give place to the feeling that when comfort vanishes, all other good vanishes with it—thus, in fact, making the real standing of the soul to depend upon an ever-fluctuating emotion. But let it be remembered that the comfort of grace may be suspended, and yet the existence of grace may remain; that the glory of faith may be beclouded, and yet the principle of faith continue. Contemplate, as affording an illustrious example of this, our adorable Lord upon the cross. Was there ever sorrow like His sorrow? Was there ever desertion like His desertion? Every spring of consolation was dried up. Every beam of light was beclouded. All sensible joy was withdrawn. His human soul was now passing through its strange, its total eclipse. And still His faith hung upon God. Hear Him exclaim, “My God! my God!” My strong One! my strong One! His soul was in the storm—and oh, what a storm was that!—but it was securely anchored upon His Father. There was in His case the absence of all consolation, the suspension of every stream of comfort; and yet in this, the darkest cloud that ever enshrouded the soul, and the deepest sorrow that ever broke the heart, He stayed His soul upon God.

And why should the believer, the follower of Christ, when sensible comfort is withdrawn, “cast away his confidence, which has great recompense of reward”? Of what use is the anchor but to keep the vessel in the tempest? What folly were it in the mariner to weigh his anchor, or to slip his cable, when the clouds gather blackness and the waves swell high! Then it is he most needs them both. It is true he has cast his anchor into the deep, and the depth hides it from his view; but though he cannot discern it through the foaming waves, still he knows that it is firmly fastened, and will keep his storm-tossed vessel from stranding upon a lee shore. And why should the believer, when “trouble is near,” and sensible comfort is withdrawn, resign his heart a prey to unbelieving fears, and cherish in his bosom the dark suspicion of God? Were not this to part with the anchor of his hope at the very moment that he the most needed it? I may not be able to pierce the clouds and look within the veil with an eye beaming with an undimmed and assured joy, but I know that the Forerunner is there; that the Priest is upon His throne; that Jesus is alive, and is at the right hand of God—then all is safe: faith demands, hope expects, and love desires no more.

October 7

“For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you: though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet will I not make a full end of you: but I will correct you in measure, and will not leave you altogether unpunished.” Jeremiah 30:11

THE Lord’s love appears in appointing the rebuke, and in tempering the chastisement. That rebuke might have been heavier, that chastisement might have been severer. The deep and dark waters might have engulfed the soul. Thus, perhaps, your prayer has been answered, “O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.” And then has followed the pleasant psalm of grateful acknowledgment and praise: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide; neither will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” Oh, could we always analyze the cup, how astonished should we be to find that in the bitterest draught that ever touched our lips the principal ingredient was love! That love saw the discipline needful, and love selected the chastisement sent, and love appointed the instrument by which it should come, and love arranged the circumstances by which it should take place, and love fixed the time when it should transpire, and love heard the sigh, and saw the tear, and marked the anguish, and never for one moment withdrew its beaming eye from the sufferer. Alas! how much is this truth overlooked by the disciplined believer! Think, suffering child of God, of the many consoling, alleviating, and soothing circumstances connected with your chastisement. How much worse your position might be, how much more aggravated the nature of your sorrow, and how much heavier the stroke of the rod. Think of the disproportion of the chastisement to the sin, for “know that God exacts of you less than your iniquity deserves.” Think of the many divine supports, the precious promises, the tenderness of God, the gentleness of Christ, the sympathy and affection dwelling in the hearts of the saints—and all this will demonstrate to you that the chastisement of the saints is the chastening of love.

September 28

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14

SELECT your choicest, sweetest temporal mercy, and say, is it satisfying to your soul? Does it, in its fullest enjoyment, leave no want unsupplied, no desire unmet, no void unfilled? Does it meet the cravings of the mind? Go into the garden of creature-blessing, and pluck the loveliest flower, and taste the sweetest fruit; repair to the cabinet of friendship, and select from thence its choicest pearl; pass round the wide circle of earth-born joy, and place your hand upon the chief and the best—is it the feeling of your heart and the language of your lips, “I am satisfied, I want no more”? Does it quench the spirit’s thirst; does it soothe the heart’s sorrow; does it meet the mind’s cravings; does it quiet the troubled conscience, and lift the burden from the aching heart? Oh no! the height, the depth, the length, the breadth exclaim, “It is not in me: am I in God’s stead?” But how blessed is that which truly satisfies! Listen to the gracious words of the Savior. “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” Did language ever utter a sentiment more true than this? Jesus is an all-satisfying portion. They who have tried Him can testify that it is so. His is not a satisfaction in name, but in reality and in truth. There is a felt, a realized sense of holy satiety. The mind is content. The believer wanders no more in quest of happiness or of rest. He has found them both in Jesus. He is satisfied to stake his eternal all upon the finished work of Immanuel—to live upon His smile, to abide in His love, to draw upon His grace, to submit to His will, to bear His cross, to be guided by His counsel, and afterwards to be received by Him into glory. The Lord Jesus imparts contentment to the soul in which He enters and dwells. Vast as were those desires before, urgent as were those necessities, insatiable as were those cravings, and restless as was that mind, Jesus has met and satisfied them all. The magnetic power of His love has attracted to, and fixed the mind upon, Himself. “He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” The believer is satisfied that God should possess Him fully, govern him supremely, and guide him entirely, and be the sole Fountain from where he draws his happiness, gratefully acknowledging, “All my springs are in You.” Thus is he content to be just what, and just where, his Father would have him. He is satisfied that he possesses God, and that, possessing God, he has all good in God. He knows that his Father cares for him; that He has undertaken to guide all his steps, and to provide for all his needs. The only anxiety which he feels as to the present is how he may the most glorify his dearest, his only Friend, casting the future on Him in the simplicity of child-like faith. Nor is the satisfaction thus felt limited to the present state. It passes on with the believer to eternity. It enters with him into the mansions of bliss. There, in unruffled serenity, in unalloyed joy, in unmingled bliss, it is perfect and complete. “You will show me the path of life: in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Happy saint! who have found your all in Jesus! Glorified spirit! would we recall you to these scenes of sin, of suffering, and of death? No! the needle of your soul no longer varies and trembles, diverted from its center by other and treacherous objects—Jesus fixes it now, and fixes it forever.