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 26: Anticipating The Coming Glory

“Why, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:14

IS not the anticipation of the coming glory most sanctifying? Ought it not to have so powerful an influence upon our minds, as to lessen the value of the things that are seen and temporal, and enhance the value of those which are unseen and eternal? We are at present in a state of nonage—children under tutors and governors. But before long we shall attain our full age, and shall be put in possession of our inheritance. And because we are children, we are apt to think as children, and speak as children, and act as children—magnifying things that are really small, while diminishing those that are really great. Oh, how little, mean, and despicable will by and by appear the things that now awaken so much thought, and create so much interest! Present sorrows and joys, hopes and disappointments, gains and losses—will all have passed away, leaving not a ripple upon the ocean they once agitated, nor a footprint upon the sands they once traversed.

Why, then, allow our white garments to trail upon the earth? If glory is before us, and so near, why so slow in our advance to meet it? Why so little of its present possession in our souls? Why do we allow the “Bright and Morning Star” to sink so often below the horizon of our faith? Why, my soul, so slow to arrive at heaven, with heaven so full in view? Oh, to press our pillow at night, composed to slumber with this sweet reflection—”Lord, if I open my eyes no more upon the rising sun, I shall open them upon that risen Sun that never sets—awaking in Your likeness.” Oh, to be looking for, and hastening unto, the coming of the Lord; that blessed hope, that glorious epiphany of the Church, which shall complete, perfect, and consummate the glorification of the saints!

How should the prospect of certain glory stimulate us to individual exertion for Christ! What a motive to labor! With a whole eternity of rest in prospect, how little should we think of present toil and fatigue for the Savior! Shall we, then, be indolent in our Master’s cause? Shall we in selfishness wrap our graces as a mantle around us, and indolently bury our talents in the earth? Shall we withhold our property from the Lord, complaining that the calls of Christian benevolence are so many, the demands so pressing, and the objects so numerous? Oh, no! It cannot, it must not be. Let us live for Christ—labor for Christ—suffer for Christ—and, if needs be, die for Christ—since we shall, before long and forever, be glorified with Christ. And who can paint that glory?

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”

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!

March 14: A Triumphant King

Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. 1 Cor. 15:24, 25.

OUR Lord, although victorious, is not a triumphant King. Nor will He be, until He comes the second time to receive His kingdom, and to reign in undisputed and universal supremacy in the bosom of a gathered Church, and over a subdued and renovated world. He will then appear “more than a conqueror,”—even triumphant. He is represented as having, “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting until his enemies be made his footstool.” What are we to gather from this statement? Much that is deeply and gloriously significant.

It describes the Redeemer in the interval between the victory and the triumph—the victory which signalized His past humiliation, and the triumph which will aggrandize His coming glory. It defines His position of repose and His attitude of expectation. It is impossible not to perceive, in these remarkable words, a reference to another and a final conflict—the issue of that conflict being the crowning act of His glory.

Are His enemies yet His footstool? Are all things yet subdued under Him? Is the world subdued? Is sin subdued? Is Antichrist subdued? Are the powers of darkness subdued? Is Death subdued? No! But they shall be. At what time? When Christ “shall appear the second time without sin,”—or a sin-offering, and therefore no more as a Priest who is to die; “unto salvation”—and therefore as a King who is to reign. “For He must reign, until He has put all enemies under His feet.”

Then, then will our Lord appear as a triumphant King to your eye. Picture the scene! Every foe now falls before Him. Death, the last enemy, is destroyed. All His enemies are “consumed with the spirit of His mouth”—the universal diffusion of His gospel—”and with the brightness of His coming”—the kingly power of His advent. All antichrists retire—their imposture exposed, their pretensions confounded—and Christ remains in triumph. All earthly kingdoms are dissolved—their dominion destroyed, and their glory passed away—and the kingdom of Messiah fills the world. All principalities and powers lay down their sovereignty at His feet, and Immanuel triumphantly reigns, having on his vesture and on his thigh a name written—”King of kings, and Lord of lords.”

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.”