July 15: Put To Grief

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10

In the person and work of Christ the holiness of God is revealed with equal power and luster. It is only through this medium that we possess the most clear and perfect demonstration of this divine and awful perfection. Where was there ever such a demonstration of God’s infinite hatred of sin, and His fixed and solemn determination to punish it, as is seen in the cross of Christ? Put your shoes from off your feet; draw near, and contemplate this “great sight.” Who was the sufferer? God’s only-begotten and well-beloved Son! His own Son!

In addition to the infinitely tender love of the Father, there was the clear knowledge of the truth, that He, who was enduring the severest infliction of His wrath, was innocent, guiltless, righteous—that He, Himself, had never broken His law, had never opposed His authority, had never run counter to His will; but had always done those things which pleased Him. At whose hands did He suffer? From devils? from men? They were but the agents; the moving cause was God Himself. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” His own Father unsheathed the sword: He inflicted the blow: He kindled the fierce flame: He prepared the bitter cup. “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, says the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd.” “The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And what were the nature and degree of His sufferings? Imagine, if we can, what must have been the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the whole church for all the sins of that church, through eternity! Can you compute the amount of her transgressions? can you conceive the degree of her punishment? can you measure the duration of her woe? Impossible!

Then, who can tell what Jesus endured, when standing in the place and as the Surety of His church, in the solemn hour of atonement, and in the day of God’s fierce anger? Never had God so manifested before, and never will He so manifest again, His essential holiness—His spotless purity—the inconceivable heinousness of sin—His utter hatred of it—and His solemn purpose to punish it with the severest inflictions of His wrath; never did this glorious perfection of His being blaze out in such overwhelming glory, as on that dark day, and in the cross of the incarnate God. Had He emptied the vials of His wrath full upon the world, sweeping it before the fury of His anger, and consigning it to deserved and eternal punishment, it would not have presented to the universe so vivid, so impressive, and so awful a demonstration of the nature and glory of His holiness, of His infinite abhorrence of sin, and the necessity why He should punish it, as He has presented in the humiliation, sufferings, and death of His beloved Son. What new and ineffably transcendent views of infinite holiness must have sprung up in the pure minds even of the spirits in glory, as, bending from their thrones, they fixed their astonished gaze upon the cross of the suffering Son of God!

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July 1: To Be In Christ

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.” John 15:4

The union of the believer with Jesus, and the consequent fruitfulness, is a glorious truth: the Holy Spirit, in His word, has laid great stress upon it. It is spoken of as a being in Christ—”Every branch in me.” “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” “So we, being many, are one body in Christ.” “Those who are fallen asleep in Christ.” But in what sense are we to understand this being “in Christ”?

To be in Christ truly, spiritually, vitally, is to be in that eternal covenant of grace made with Christ, as the Surety and Mediator of His people; one of the number spoken of as the Lord’s “peculiar treasure;”—”For the Lord has chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure;” and concerning whom the Holy Spirit declares that they are elected in Christ—”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ: according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

To be in Christ truly, is to stand accepted in His righteousness, to be justified by Him freely from all things; it is to be brought to the knowledge of our own vileness, insufficiency, and guilt; to be made to cast aside all self-dependence, that is, all works of human merit, and to come as the thief on the cross came, without any allowed confidence in anything of self, but as a poor, helpless, ruined, condemned sinner, all whose hope of pardon and acceptance is through the free mercy of God in Christ Jesus.

To be in Christ is to be the subject of a living, holy, influential principle of faith; it is to be brought into the blessed state thus described by the apostle as his own—”I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

To be in Christ is to be one with Him; it is to be a member of His mystical body, of which He is the spiritual Head: and the Head and members are one. It is to have Christ dwelling in the heart—”Christ in you the hope of glory.” Yes, it is to dwell in the heart of Christ; it is to rest there in the very pavilion of His love, to abide there every moment, to be sheltered there from all evil, and to be soothed there under all sorrow.

Oh blessed state of being in Christ! Who would not experience it? Who would not enjoy it? “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

These are the living branches, united to the true vine, which bear fruit. From their union to the living vine their fruit comes—”From me is your fruit found.” “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in me.” And oh, what precious fruit does such a living branch bear! The broken heart—the contrite spirit—the mourning over sin—the low, abasing, humbling views of self—the venturing by faith on a full, mighty, willing Savior—the going out of self, and resting in His all-atoning work and all-satisfying righteousness. This is followed by a progressive advance in all holiness and godliness, the fruits of faith which are by Jesus Christ abounding in the life, and proving the reality of the wondrous change—the close walk with God—the submission of the will in all things to His—the conformity of the life to the example of Jesus—the “power of His resurrection” felt—the “fellowship of His sufferings,” known—and “conformity to His death,” marking the entire man.

These are some of the fruits of a truly regenerate soul. The Holy Spirit testifies, that the “fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth;” and still more minutely, as consisting of “love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”

June 6: The Power Of A Holy Life Lived

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 22: Sanctified By The Word

“Sanctified by the word of God.” 1 Timothy 4:5

It is the natural tendency of Divine truth, when received into the heart, to produce holiness. The design of the whole plan of redemption was to secure the highest holiness and happiness of the creature; and when the gospel comes with the power of God unto the salvation of the soul, this end is preeminently secured.

The renewed man is a pardoned man; the pardoned man becomes a holy man; and the holy man is a happy man. Look, then, at God’s word, and trace the tendency of every doctrine, precept, promise, and threatening, and mark the holy influence of each. Take the doctrine of God’s everlasting love to His people, as seen in their election to eternal life. How holy is the tendency of this truth! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

Let not my reader turn from this glorious doctrine, because he may find it irreconcilable with others that he may hold, or because the mists of prejudice may long have veiled it from his mind; it is a revealed doctrine, and therefore to be fully received; it is a holy doctrine, and therefore to be ardently loved. Received in the heart by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, it lays the pride of man in the dust, knocking from beneath the soul all ground for self-glorying, and expands the mind with the most exalted views of the glory, grace, and love of Jehovah. He who receives the doctrine of electing love in his heart by the power of the Spirit, bears about with him the material of a holy walk; its tendency is to humble, abase, and sanctify the man.

Thus holy, too, is the revealed doctrine of God’s free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace. The tendency of this truth is most sanctifying: for a man to feel that God alone has made him to differ from another—that what he has, he has received—that by the free, distinguishing grace of God he is what he is—is a truth, when experienced in the heart, surely of the most holy influence.

How it lays the axe at the root of self! how it stains the pride of human glory, and hushes the whispers of vain boasting! It lays the renewed sinner where he ought ever to lie, in the dust; and places the crown, where it alone ought to shine, bright and glorious, upon the head of sovereign mercy.

“Lord, why me? I was far from You by wicked works; I was the least of my Father’s house, and, of all, the most unworthy and unlikely object of Your love and yet Your mercy sought me—Your grace selected me out of all the rest, and made me a miracle of its omnipotent power. Lord, to what can I refer this, but to Your mere mercy, Your sovereign and free grace, entirely apart from all worth or worthiness that You did see in me? Take, therefore, my body, soul, and spirit, and let them be, in time and through eternity, a holy temple to Your glory.”

All the precepts, too, are on the side of holiness. “If you love me, keep my commandments;” “Be you holy, for I am holy;” “Come out of the world and be you separate, and touch not the unclean thing.”‘ “God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness;” “That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Holy precepts! May the eternal Spirit engrave them deep upon our hearts.

Not less sanctifying in their tendency are the “exceeding great and precious promises” which the word of truth contains. “Having, therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Thus holy and sanctifying are the nature and the effect of Divine truth. It is in its nature and properties most holy; it comes from a holy God and whenever and wherever it is received in the heart, as the good and incorruptible seed of the kingdom, it produces that which is in accordance with its own nature—HOLINESS.

As is the tree, so are the fruits; as is the cause, so are the effects. It brings down and lays low the high thoughts of man, by revealing to him the character of God; it convinces him of his deep guilt and awful condemnation, by exhibiting the Divine law; it unfolds to him God’s hatred of sin, His justice in punishing and His mercy in pardoning it, by unfolding to his view the cross of Christ; and taking entire possession of the soul, it implants new principles, supplies new motives, gives a new end, begets new joys, and inspires new hopes—in a word, diffuses itself through the whole moral man, changes it into the same image, and transforms it into “an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

September 6: Temples Of God

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1 Corinthians. 3:17

How holy should the temple of the Spirit be! Reader, are you a temple of God the Holy Spirit? Then dedicate yourself unreservedly to God. You are not your own; your body, your spirit, your family, substance, time, talents, influence, all, all belong to God.

He dwells in you; walks in you, rules in you, and calls you His dwelling-place. “Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you?” Then, what a separation should there be between you and the world that lies in wickedness! How should you guard against every unnecessary entanglement with it! how cautious and prayerful, lest, by contracting an unholy alliance with it in any form or degree, you should defile the temple of God, “which temple you are”!

Oh, what heavenly wisdom, and holy circumspection, and ceaseless prayer, do you need, that you might walk with unspotted garments—that no rival should enter your heart—that no lofty views of self, no spirit of worldly conformity, no temporizing policy, no known sin, no creature idolatry should enter there!—that, like the heavenly temple, nothing that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, should be cherished or entertained in the abode and in the presence of the Holy Spirit! for “what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Reader, whose temple are you? Solemn question! Does God or Satan dwell in you? Christ or Belial? light or darkness? Either the one or the other has, at this moment, entire possession. You cannot serve two contrary masters; you cannot entertain two opposite guests. You are living either for God or for Satan. You are traveling either to heaven or to hell. Which? On your bended knees before God, decide; and may the Lord the Spirit renew you by His grace, and if renewed, make you “a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

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.

July 18: Wash & Be Clean

“Those who live according to the sinful nature (the flesh) have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5

By this truth let us test the reality of our religious profession. In this light let us closely examine our Christian character and walk. What, reader, is the habitual and supreme bent of your mind? Is it that which is spiritual, or that which is carnal? Judge of your preparation for death, in the near view of its approaching solemnities. Decide upon your state for eternity, in the rapid progress of its deepening shadows. Ascertain the real state of your case for the judgment, in the certain arrival of its dread scrutiny.

You have your mind either set upon the things of the flesh, or upon the things of the Spirit. You are either born again from above, or are groveling in things below. You are either holy, or you are unholy. You are for the Lord, or you are against Him. You are either Satan’s slave or Christ’s freeman. Which?

You inquire, “How may I know that I am of the Spirit?” We answer–by your producing the fruits of the Spirit. A broken heart for sin–a felt conviction of the hidden plague–a humble and a contrite spirit–an utter rejection of a human righteousness–a simple, believing reception of the Lord Jesus–and a breathing after Divine conformity, are evidences of a renewed and sanctified state. If these are yours in any degree, then you are of the Spirit.

But rest not here. Be exhorted to walk in the Spirit. Do not be satisfied with having the question decided in your favor–with just barely knowing that you have crossed the line that separates the regenerate from the unregenerate–death from life.

Remain not where you are: go forward. Do not be content with a low standard. Compare not your church with other churches, nor yourself with other Christians; nor measure yourself by yourself. But fix your eye upon Christ; copy His example, imbibe His mind, and place yourself under the government of His Spirit.

Strive to go forward! Endeavor to be always sowing to the Spirit. Be satisfied with the Lord’s disposal of you. Study the divine art of contentment. Be convinced that what the Lord ordains is best. Covet but little of earthly good; and, as an old divine exhorts, “sail with a low gale.” Lie low. The great secret of a holy and a happy life is contained in a small compass–walking humbly with God. In all failures in duty, in all shortcomings in practice, in all transactions with God, and in all dealings with man–remembering the innumerable traces of imperfection and sin found upon all you do–deal frequently, closely, with the atoning blood. “Wash and be clean.”

June 7: Submitted Unto God

How few there are, among the many “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” James 4:7

Submission to the Divine will is a great advance in holiness; and this is mainly and effectually attained through sanctified chastisement. In prosperity, how full are we of self-sufficiency! When the Lord asks our obedience, we give Him our counsel. But when He sends the rod, and by the accompanying grace of His Spirit sanctifies its stroke, we learn in what true obedience consists.

It was in this school our blessed Lord Himself was taught. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” He learned to obey in suffering- to bring His will in suffering into complete submission to His Father’s will. God has not in His family such obedient children as those who, “passing under the rod,” are “brought into the bond of the covenant.” Oh, what a high Christian attainment is submission to the will of God!

The noblest grace attainable upon earth is it. When our Lord taught His disciples to pray to the Father for the spread of holiness, He embodied the petition, in these words, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” The universal and complete holiness of heaven springs from the universal and complete perfection in which the will of God is done by angels and glorified spirits.

In proportion as the Divine will prevails upon earth, holiness will reign. And, oh, what a beauteous earth and what a blissful world would this be, were the will of God done by every creature! In the new earth, in which will dwell righteousness, it will be so. The original harmony of this fallen universe will then be restored, its pristine beauty recovered, and God, in the person of His Son, will once more reign over, and walk in the midst of, a people whose will shall be but the reflection of His own.

Thus to approximate to the Divine will is to assimilate with the Divine holiness. What God will, how God will, and when God will, defines the rule which should govern all the conduct and limit all the desires of the child of God. The instant the overwhelmed heart is brought into this state, the afflicted believer has planted his feet upon the Rock that is higher than he. All is peace, all is composure, because all is submission to the will of God.

“The Lord reigns” is the truth whose all-commanding yet gentle whisper has stilled the tempest and calmed the waves. In its intense anxiety that the Divine will might be done, the chastened soul is but breathing after deeper holiness; and every fervent desire for the attainment of holiness is holiness already attained. Blessed chastening of love, that produces in this world, so distant and uncongenial, the buds and blossoms and fruits of heaven! A richer fruit grows not within the Paradise of God than Holiness.

And yet, in the experience of a chastened believer, bleeding under the rod of his heavenly Father, there may be obtained such victories over sin, such purification of heart, such meekness of spirit, such Christ-like conformity, and such a discipline of the will, as to make him a rich “partaker of the Divine holiness.”

May 28: The New Has Come

“Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

A believer’s experience of the truth of God is no mere fancy. However severely experimental godliness may have been stigmatized by an unrenewed world, as the offspring of a morbid imagination, the product of an enthusiastic mind, “he that believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself,” that he has yielded the consent of his judgment and his affections to no “cunningly-devised fable.”

A sense of sin- brokenness and contrition before God- faith in the atoning blood of Christ- a sweet consciousness of pardon, acceptance, adoption, and joy in the Holy Spirit, are no mere hallucinations of a disordered mind. To read one’s pardon, fully, fairly written out- to look up to God as one accepted, adopted, to feel the spirit going out to Him in filial love and confidence, breathing its tender and endearing epithet, “Abba, Father,”- to refer every trial, cross, and dispensation of His providence to His tender and unchangeable love- to have one’s will, naturally so rebellious and perverse, completely absorbed in His- to be as a weaned child, simply and unreservedly yielded up to His disposal, and to live in the patient waiting for the glory that is to be revealed- oh, this is reality, sweet, blessed, solemn reality!

Holy and happy is that man whose heart is not a stranger to these truths.

February 12: The Heavenly Image

“Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Romans 8:29.

Here is the glorious pattern of a child of God. Sanctification is a conformity to the image and the example of Christ. The more the believer is growing like Jesus, the more he is growing in holiness. And, on the contrary, the less resemblance there is to Christ in his principles, in the habit of his mind, in his spirit, temper, daily walk, yes, in every action and in every look, the less is he advancing in the great work of holiness. Oh, how many who profess His dear name, and who are expecting to be with Him forever, never pause to consider what resemblance they bear to Him now! And were they to deal faithfully, with conscience in the much- neglected duty of self-examination; were they to bring themselves to this great standard, how far below it would they be found to have come! How much in their principles, in their governing motives, in their temper, spirit, and daily conduct- how much in their walk in the world, in their deportment in the Church, and in their more concealed conduct in their families, would be discovered that was unlike Christ! How much that was “from beneath,” how little that was “from above,”- how much of the “image of the earthly,” how little of the “image of the heavenly!”

But look at the image of our dear Lord- how lowly, how holy it is! Look at His poverty of spirit- lowliness of heart- humility of deportment- tenderness- forgiveness of injuries- self-denial- prayerfulness- zeal for His Father’s glory- yearnings for the salvation of men. Oh to be like Jesus! to grow up into Him in all things! this is to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.” This is to realize “the will of God, even our sanctification.” Let it not then be forgotten, that an advancing believer is one growing in a resemblance and conformity to the image and example of Christ.