March 25: Sing Of His Mercy

I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto you, O Lord, will I sing. Psalm 101:1

How shall we enumerate all the blessings which result from the chastening of love? We might tell how prayer is quickened, how pride is abased, how weanedness is attained, how charity is increased, how character is formed, how meditation and solitude are sweetened, how Christ is endeared, and how God is glorified. It will be recollected, that in the ark of the covenant there was “Aaron’s rod that budded.” Our glorious covenant of grace has, too, its rod—its budding, its blossoming rod—and precious is the nature and rich the variety of the fruit which it bears. But in that ancient ark there was also the “pot of manna.” “Mercy and judgment,” bitter and sweet, light and shade, are blended in the covenant dealings of God with His people. The rod and the pot of manna go together. If the one is bitter, the other is sweet. God will never send the rod unaccompanied with the manna. Jesus, exhibited in the word, and unfolded by the Spirit, in the sweet sympathy of His nature, in the tenderness of His heart, as the “Brother born for adversity,” is the manna—sustaining and strengthening the believer, passing under the covenant-rod of God. Thus, if afflictions be grievous, the fruit they bear is gracious.

In the history of the Jewish Church there is yet another type, beautifully illustrative of God’s dealings with the chastened Christian. I allude to the pillar, which guided the pilgrimage of the Church in the wilderness. By night it was a pillar of fire, and by day it was a pillar of cloud. The darkest night of weeping that can possibly enshroud the child of God has its bright light—its alleviation, its promise, its guiding. And in the most prosperous period in the Christian’s experience, it is ordered by unerring wisdom and infinite love that there should be some counter-dispensation of trial, to preserve the just balance of the soul. It has been well remarked, that “Things never go so well with God’s children, but they have still something to groan under; nor so ill, but they have still some comfort to be thankful for.”

I would have you, then, my reader, not overlook the truth, that the covenant of grace has made provision for everything in the life of a child of God, especially for the life of suffering. It strews the richest blessings and the most profusely upon the chequered path—the path inlaid with stones of various colors, and yet each one most needful and most precious. “Oh you afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold I will lay your stones with fair colors, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” It is true that the covenant has anticipated as much the perilous season of prosperity, as the dark hour of adversity; but it always supposes the way to glory to be one of trial and of danger.

A heavenly-minded man will learn to look upon the earthly distinction and wealth which the world, so lavish sometimes of its favors, may confer upon him, as a trial and a snare, to one desirous of bearing the cross daily after his crucified Lord; and yet for this specific form of danger the covenant of grace amply provides. Be satisfied, my reader, with any station your God may assign you; believing that for every station in which He places His child, there is the grace peculiar to its exigencies treasured up for him in the everlasting covenant.

November 10: God Of Love

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

It were as much a libel upon the religion of Jesus to represent it as destroying the instincts of our sympathetic nature, as it were a dim conception of the Divine power of that religion, to suppose that it does not increase, to an intensity and tenderness almost infinite, the depth and power of those instincts.

It is generally admitted, that, compared with the Christian economy, the Old Dispensation was characterized by many essential and palpable features of terror and harshness and that those who lived under its sway would naturally imbibe the spirit of the economy to which they belonged. Yet, oppressive as appear to have been many of its laws, unfeeling many of its requirements, and harsh the spirit of its whole economy, we find in that dispensation some of the most real, tender, and touching exhibitions of sympathy springing from holy hearts, recorded in the Bible.

Who, as he wanders amid the vine-clad but deserted hills of Palestine, with a heart of cultivated affections, and an ear attuned to plaintive sounds, does not regard it as the sacred home of sensibility—its valleys and its mountains still vocal with the sighings of sympathy and the lamentations of love? There would still seem to vibrate the touching tones of Jacob, pouring forth the tenderness of his soul, for his beloved Rachel, and for his darling son. There, too, would seem yet to linger the mournful requiem of David for the fallen sovereign whom he venerated, for the faithful friend whom he loved, and for the unhappy son whose untimely death he deplored.

Could sympathy be portrayed in a picture more vivid, or embodied in words more heart-subduing, than this: “And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Such is a recollection of Palestine. And who can thus think of that hallowed land, and not associate with it all that is elevating, grateful, and touching in sympathy!

But another and a more sympathetic economy has succeeded. Christianity is the embodiment, the incarnation of love. It not only inculcates, but it inspires, it not only enjoins, but it originates, the most refined sensibility of soul. Sympathy is no by-law of Christianity, it is the embodied essence of all its laws; and Christianity itself is the embalmed sympathies of Him, in whom dwelt bodily the fullness of Divine and Essential Love.

If the ancient economy, with all its coldness, harshness, and severity, dedicated its temples and tuned its lyres, lent its holy oracles and consecrated the very scenes and scenery of nature, to the highest, noblest, and purest sympathies of the soul; surely the gospel will not frown or pour contempt upon the feelings, emotions, and breathings, which the law held precious and sacred.

Oh no! the religion of Jesus is the religion of love. It is the school of the affections; and it is only here that they are fully developed, sanctified, and trained. To love man as man should be loved, God must be the
first and supreme object of our love.

October 29: Types And Shadows

“I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4

What are some of the great truths confirmed by the resurrection of Jesus, and in the belief of which the believer is built up, by this glorious and life-inspiring doctrine? They are many and vast. Indeed, it would not be too much to affirm of the entire system of Divine truth, that it depended mainly for its evidence upon the single fact of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

In the first place, it establishes the Bible to be the revelation of God. If the types which shadowed forth, and the prophecies which predicted, the resurrection of the Lord, received not their substance and their fulfillment in the accomplishment of that fact, then the Scriptures were not true, the types were meaningless, and the predictions were false. For thus do they unite in setting forth this glorious and precious truth.

First, as it regards the types. What was the receiving back of Isaac after he had been laid upon the altar, and the knife raised to slay him, but the shadowing forth of Christ’s resurrection? As the binding of him upon the wood prefigured the sacrificial death of Christ, so the unbinding of him from altar, and his surrender to his father the third day from the time that he received the command to sacrifice him, prefigured the risen life of Christ. Significant type! radiant with the glory of a Jesus! In the one part we see Him dying, the other part we see Him rising. The one shadows forth His atoning sacrifice, the other His risen glory.

And here did the mind of Abraham rest. His towering faith rose above the type; he looked beyond the shadow. His soul embraced a crucified and a risen Lord. Strong in the exercise of a prospective faith, he beheld before him as vividly, and he reposed in as firmly, a dying and a living Redeemer, as did John when the sweet voice broke upon his ear, “I am He that lives and was dead.” “By faith Abraham, when was tried, offered up Isaac…Accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; from where also he received him in a figure.”

The type of the slain and the living goat embodies in vivid outline the same essential doctrine. Aaron was commanded to kill the goat of the offering, and bring his blood within the veil. But upon the head of the live goat he was to place both his hands, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and then to send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. “And he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.” Our adorable Lord was the glorious substance of this expressive type. Both parts met and were realized in Him. “He was delivered for our offences, and rose again for our justification.”

The prophetic Scriptures are equally as explicit in setting forth the resurrection of Christ. “My flesh also shall rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in hell, neither will You suffer Your Holy One to see corruption.” “You are my Son, this day have I begotten You.” “I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” Now mark how these portions of the prophetic Scriptures are quoted by the apostle Paul, and strictly applied by him to the resurrection of Christ. Acts 13: “But God raised Him from the dead: and He was seen many days of those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God has fulfilled the same unto us, their children, in that He raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you.

And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, He said this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Why He says also in another Psalm, You shall not suffer Your Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption; but He, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” How brightly does the doctrine of a risen Savior shine throughout this remarkable portion of God’s holy word! Truly the life of Jesus is the life of the Scriptures.

Again, “Your dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.” “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Thus does the resurrection of Christ from the dead confirm the truth of God’s holy word. The types find their substance, and the prophets their fulfillment, in Him who was emphatically the “plague of death, and the destruction of the grave.”

July 28: Through The Lattice

“Showing himself through the lattice.” Solomon’s Song 2:9

This is a clearer and more glorious discovery of Christ, inasmuch as it is the manifestation of Christ in the revealed word. Our Lord cares not to conceal Himself from His saints. He remembers that all their loveliness is through Him, that all their grace is in Him, that all their happiness is from Him; and therefore He delights to afford them EVERY MEANS and occasion of increasing their knowledge of, and of perfecting their resemblance to, Him. The “lattice” of His house is figurative of the doctrines, precepts, and promises of His Gospel. Through these the Lord Jesus manifests Himself, when we come to the study of the word, not as self-sufficient teachers, but as sincere and humble learners, deeply conscious how little we really know, and thirsting to know more of God in Jesus.

The Lord Jesus often shows Himself through these “lattices,”–perhaps some type, or prophecy, or doctrine, or command–and we are instructed, sanctified, and blest. It is the loss of so many readers of the Bible that they do not search it for Christ. Men will study it with the view of increasing their knowledge of science and of philosophy, of poetry and of painting; but how few search into it for Jesus! And yet in knowing Him the pavilion of all spiritual mystery is unlocked–all that God designed to communicate in the present world. To know God is to comprehend all knowledge; God is only truly known as revealed in Jesus; therefore he who is experimentally acquainted with Jesus, holds in his hand the key that unlocks the vast treasury of God’s revealed mind and heart.

Oh, search for Christ in the lattice of the word! The types foreshadow Him, the prophecies unfold Him, the doctrines teach Him, the precepts speak of Him, the promises lead to Him. “Rejoice in the word, but only as the wise men did in the star, as it led them to Christ. The word of Christ is precious, but nothing more precious than Christ Himself and His formation of the soul. Rest not in the word, but look through it to Christ.”

Blessed Lord, I would sincerely open this box of precious ointment–Your own word–that the fragrance of Your grace and of Your name might revive me. It is Your word, and not man’s word, that can meet my case, and satisfy my soul. Man can only direct me to You; Your word brings me to You. Your servants can at best but bring You in Your Gospel to my heart; but Your Spirit of truth brings You through the gospel into my heart. Oh, show Yourself to me in the gospel “lattice” of Your word, and I shall rejoice as one that has found great spoil–in finding You.

May 26: When Mercy And Truth Collide

“For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

It pleased a gracious and sin-pardoning God to meet our guilty and conscience-stricken parents, immediately after the fall, with the comforting and gracious promise that the “seed of the woman”- His eternal Son, the everlasting Mediator- should “bruise the serpent’s head.” On this divine assurance of recovering and saving mercy they rested.

Believing in this, as they doubtless did, they were saved, “the first fruits unto God and the Lamb.” They rested, let it be emphatically spoken, not upon the bare letter of the promise, but upon its substance; not merely, upon the grace promised; but upon the truth of God in the promise. The bare letter of a promise is no resting-place for a believing soul; it can convey no solid consolation and support.

Thus far, and no further, did the Jews get, to whom pertained the promises. This is all that they saw in the types and promises which set forth “God’s unspeakable gift.” They rested in the mere letter. They saw not Christ in them; and, seeing not Christ to be their substance and glory, to them “the promises of God were made of none effect.” Now God has fulfilled His ancient promise. The word He spoke to Adam, He has made good to the letter to us, His posterity.

It is true, the vision of grace and glory seemed for a while to tarry, but it tarried only for its appointed time. It is true, the vista was long and dreary, through which patriarchs, seers, and prophets beheld it. The star of hope was often scarcely seen in the dim distance, and frequently seemed for a moment entirely quenched in darkness. Time rolled heavily along- a period of four thousand years elapsed; but, true to His word, faithful to His promise, “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

Oh, how gloriously did the truth of Jehovah shine in the person of the babe of Bethlehem! How did it gather brightness as the holy child Jesus increased in stature and in favor with God and man! And to what meridian splendor did it blaze forth, when on Calvary it united with holiness and justice, in finishing the great work of the Church’s redemption!

Then was it that “mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other.” Jesus is the grand evidence that God is true. Faith needs, faith asks no more. Here, as on a stable foundation, it rests. Its eye ever “looking unto Jesus,” it can thread its way- often sunless and starless- through a dreary, and an intricate wilderness. It can travel through trials, endure temptations, bow meekly to disappointments, bear up under cross providences, and sustain the shock of fearful conflicts, trusting in the God of the covenant, resting on His promise and oath, and implicitly believing His word, because it sees in Jesus an ever-living witness that God is true.