June 30: Shut In To God

“Save me, O God, by your name, and judge me by your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah. Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with those who uphold my soul.” Psalm 54:1-4

WHERE was David now? “In the wilderness of Ziph, in a wood.” With not a follower or companion, this favorite of the nation was a homeless wanderer, hunted like a partridge upon the mountain by the bloodthirsty king. But oh, the deep teaching of which he would now be the subject! The nothingness of earthly glory—the emptiness of human applause—the poverty of the creature—the treachery of his own heart—in a word, the vapid nature and utter insufficiency of all earthly good, would be among the many holy and costly lessons he would now learn.

Nor this alone. Driven from man, he would now be more exclusively and entirely shut in with God. In his happy experience, that wilderness would be as a peopled world, and that wood as a blooming paradise. From the profound depths of its solitude and stillness, there would ascend the voice of prayer and the melody of praise. The wilderness of Ziph would be another Patmos, all radiant with the glorious and precious presence of Him, who laid his right hand upon the exiled Evangelist, and said, “Fear not, I am He that lives.”

See we no fore-shadowing of Jesus here? Oh yes; much, we think. Nor is this strange, since David was preeminently a personal type of Christ. There were periods in our Lord’s brief and humiliating history on earth, when, indeed, He seemed for awhile to ride upon the topmost wave of popular favor. After some stupendous prodigy of His power, or some splendid outgushing of His benevolence, sending its electric thrill through the gazing and admiring populace, He would often become the envy and the dread of the Jewish Sanhedrin.

Jealous of His widening fame and growing power, they would seek to tarnish the one by detraction, and to arrest the other by His death. Escaping from their fury, He would betake Himself to the fastnesses of the rock, and to the solitude of the desert—but, alas! with no human sympathy to strengthen His hands in God. Oh, how strangely has Jesus trodden the path, along which He is leading His saints to glory!

Is there nothing analogous to this in the experience of the faithful? Who can witness for the Lord Jesus—conceive some new idea of doing good—occupy some prominent post of responsibility and power—or prove successful in some enterprise of Christian benevolence—and while thus winning the admiration and applause of the many, not find himself an object of the unholy envy and vituperation of a few? “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you!” Thus may an active, zealous, successful Christian be crucified between human idolatry on the one hand, and creature jealousy on the other. Well, be it so, if self be slain, and God is glorified.

The great secret, however, to learn here is, entire deadness to both. Going forward in the work of the Lord, as judgment dictates, as conscience approves, and as Providence guides—dead to human applause, and indifferent to human censure; ever taking the low place, aiming at the Lord’s glory, and seeking the honor that comes from God only—this is happiness. Oh, to live and labor, to give and to suffer, in the meek simplicity of Christ, and with eternity full in view! The Lord grant us grace so to live, and so to die!

January 7: A Broken And Contrite Heart

The Lord is near unto those who are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18

A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

THERE are those by whom a broken heart is despised. Satan despises it—though he trembles at it. The world despises it—though it stands in awe of it. The Pharisee despises it—though he attempts its counterfeit. But there is one who despises it not. “You will not despise it,” exclaims the penitent child, with his eye upon the loving heart of his God and Father.

But why does God not only not despise it, but delights in and accepts it? Because He sees in it a holy and a fragrant sacrifice. It is a sacrifice, because it is offered to God, and not to man. It is an oblation laid upon His altar. Moses never presented such an oblation—Aaron never offered such a sacrifice in all the gifts which he offered, in all the victims which he slew. And while some have cast their rich and splendid gifts into the treasury, or have laid them ostentatiously upon the altar of Christian benevolence, God has stood by the spot to which some poor penitent has brought his broken heart for sin, the incense of which has gone up before Him as a most precious and fragrant sacrifice.

Upon that oblation, upon that gift, His eye has been fixed, as if one object, and one only, had arrested and absorbed His gaze—it was a poor broken heart that lay bleeding and quivering upon His altar. It is a sacrifice, too, offered upon the basis of the atoning sacrifice of His dear Son—the only sacrifice that satisfies Divine justice—and this makes it precious to God. So infinitely glorious is the atonement of Jesus, so divine, so complete, and so honoring to every claim of His moral government, that He accepts each sacrifice of prayer, of praise, of penitence, and of personal consecration, laid in faith by the side and upon that one infinite sacrifice for sin.

He recognizes in it, too, the work of His own Spirit. When the Spirit of God moved upon the face of unformed nature, and a new world sprang into life, light, and beauty, He pronounced it very good. But what must be His estimate of that new creation which His Spirit has wrought in the soul, whose moral chaos He has reduced to life, light, and order!

But in what way does God evidence His satisfaction with, and His delight in, the broken and contrite heart? We answer—first by the manifestation of His power in healing it. “He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.” “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek: He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”

Never did a physician more delight to display his skill, or exercise the benevolent feelings of his nature in the alleviation of suffering, than does Jesus in His work of binding up and healing the heart broken for sin, by speaking a sense of pardon, and applying to it the balsam of His own most precious blood.

But our Lord not only heals the contrite heart, but, as if heaven had not sufficient attraction as His dwelling-place, He comes down to earth, and makes that heart His abode. “Thus says the high and lofty One, that inhabits Eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” What, dear, humble penitent, could give you such a view of the interest which Christ takes in your case—the delight with which He contemplates your contrition, and the welcome and the blessing which He is prepared to bestow upon you, on your casting yourself down at His feet, as this fact, that He waits to make that sorrow-stricken heart of yours His chief and loved abode—reviving it, healing it, and enshrining Himself forever within its renewed and sanctified affections.

November 8: The Word Made Flesh

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Before this Vessel of grace let us pause in adoring admiration of its greatness and its beauty. It is the “great mystery of godliness.” Angels are summoned to adore it. “When He brings in the first-begotten into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him.”

It was the profoundest conception of God’s wisdom, the masterpiece of His power, and worthy of their deepest homage. Such an unveiling of the glory of God they had never gazed upon before. In the countless glories with which He had enriched and garnished the universe, there was not its symbol, nor its type. All other wonders cease to astonish, and all other beauty fades, in comparison with this, the grandest, the peerless of all. As if fathoming the utmost depth of infinity, and collecting all its hidden treasures of wisdom and power, of grace and truth, God would seem to have concentrated and embodied, to have illustrated and displayed them all, in the person of His Incarnate Son, “God manifest in the flesh.”

In this was found to consist the fitness of Immanuel, as the covenant Head of grace to the church. The Divine and costly treasure, no longer confided to the guardianship and ministration of a weak, dependent creature, was deposited in the hands of incarnate Deity, One whom the Father knew, His “equal,” His “fellow,” made strong for Himself; and thus it was secured to His church, an inexhaustible and eternal supply.

But not in His Divine nature only did the fitness and beauty of our Lord, as the one Vessel of grace, appear. His human nature, so perfect, so sinless, so replenished, enriched, and sanctified with the in-being of the Holy Spirit, conspired to render Him “fairer than the children of men.”—But in what did the chief excellence and beauty of our Lord’s humanity consist? Was it the glory of human wisdom, of worldly grandeur, of secular power? No; not in these!

It was that which the world the least esteems, and the most hates, which formed the rich endowment of our Lord’s inferior nature—the grace which dwelt within Him. The world conferred no dignity upon Christ, save that of its deepest ridicule and its bitterest scorn. In His temporal estate, He preferred poverty to wealth, obscurity to distinction, insult to applause, suffering to ease, a cross to a throne. So indigent and neglected was He, though every spot of earth was His, and all creatures were feeding from His hand, He had no nightly shelter, and often no “daily bread.” How affecting to those who love the Savior, and who owe all their temporal comforts to His deprivation, and all their glory to His abasement, are expressions like these—”Jesus hungered;” “Jesus said, I thirst;” “Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit.” “Jesus groaned within Himself;” “Jesus wept” “The Son of man has not where to lay His head.” Thus low did stoop the incarnate God!

But in the midst of all this poverty and humiliation, God did seem to say, “I will make Him, my Son, more glorious than angels, and fairer than the children of men. I will endow Him immeasurably with my Spirit, and I will replenish Him to the full with my grace. I will anoint Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows.” When He appeared in the world, and the eye of the evangelist caught the vision, he exclaimed with wondering delight, “The glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

How did all that He said and did, each word and action, betray the fullness of grace that dwelt within Him! The expressions that distilled from His lips were “gracious words;” the truths He thus taught were the doctrines of grace; the works He performed were the miracles of grace; the invitations He breathed were the promises of grace; the blessings He pronounced were the gifts of grace; in a word, the blood He shed, the righteousness He wrought, the redemption He accomplished, the salvation He proclaimed, the souls He rescued, and the kingdom He promised, were the outgushings, the overflowings, the achievements, the triumphs, and the rewards of grace.

October 11: The Lamb Led To Slaughter

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: in his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.” Acts 8:32, 33

In the person of the Son of God, the two extremes of being—the infinite and the finite—meet in strange and mysterious, but close and eternal union. The Divine came down to the human—Deity humbled itself to humanity. This was humiliation indeed! It was not the creature descending in the scale of creation, but it was the Creator stooping to the creature. “God was manifest in the flesh.” “He humbled Himself.” Oh, it is an amazing truth! So infinitely great was He, He could thus stoop without compromising His dignity, or lessening His glory.

But, if possible, a step lower did He seem to descend. Thus in prophetic language did he announce it: “I am a worm and no man.” What astounding words are these! Here was the God-man sinking, as it were, in the depths of abasement and humiliation below the human. “I am a worm, and no man!” In the lowliness which marked His external appearance, in the estimation in which He was held by men, in the contemptuous treatment which He received from His enemies, the trampling of His glory in the dust, and the crushing of His person on the cross, would seem in His own view to have robbed Him, not only of His glory as God, but even to have divested Him of His dignity as man! “I am a worm, and no man!”

Oh, here is glory—glory surpassing all imagination, all thought, all power of utterance! He who bent His footsteps along this flinty path, He who sunk thus low, was Jehovah, the “mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth! Lowliness and majesty, humiliation and glory, how strangely were they blended in You, O incarnate God!

The assumption of our nature, in its depressed and bruised condition, constituted no small feature in the abasement of the Son of God. That, in the strong language of the Holy Spirit, He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners,” is a truth we cannot too distinctly affirm, or too earnestly maintain. The least misgiving touching the perfect sinlessness of the human nature of our Lord tends to weaken the confidence of faith in the atonement, and so to enshroud in darkness the hope of the soul.

As a single leak must have sunk the ark beneath the waves, so the existence of the slightest taint of sin in Jesus would have opened an inlet through which the dark billows of Divine wrath would have rolled, plunging both Himself and the church He sustained in eternal woe. But that “holy thing” that was begotten of the Holy Spirit knew not the least moral taint. He “knew no sin,” He was the sacrificial “Lamb without spot.”

And because He presented to the Divine requirement a holy, unblemished, and perfect obedience and satisfaction, we who believe are “made the righteousness of God in Him.”

But His taking up into subsistence with His own our nature in its fallen condition, comprehends the sinless infirmities and weaknesses with which it was identified and encompassed. When I see my Lord and Master bowed with grief and enduring privation, when I behold Him making the needs and sorrows and sufferings of others His own, what do I learn but that He was truly a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”?

Is there any spectacle more affecting, than thus to behold the Incarnate God entering personally and sympathetically into all the humiliations of my poor, bruised, vile nature, and yet remaining untouched, untainted by its sin?—taking my weaknesses, bearing my sicknesses, sorrowing when I sorrow, weeping when I weep, touched with the feeling of my infirmities, in all points tempted like as I am.

July 27: The Hereafter

“Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do you know not now, but you shall know hereafter.” John 8:7

Oh that “hereafter,” what a solemn word to the ungodly! Is there, then, a hereafter? Jesus says there is; and I believe it, because He says it. That hereafter will be terrible to the man that dies in his sins. It will be a hereafter whose history will be “written in mourning, lamentation, and woe.” It had been better for you, reader, living and dying impenitent and unbelieving, had you never been born, or had there been no hereafter. But there is a hereafter of woe to the sinner, as of bliss to the saint. “These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.”

The position which the Christian shall occupy hereafter will be most favorable to a full and clear comprehension of all the mysteries of the earthly journey. The “clouds and darkness”–emblems in our history of obscurity and distress–which now envelope God’s throne, and enshroud His government of the saints, will have passed away; the mist and fog will have vanished, and, breathing a purer atmosphere, and canopied by a brighter sky, the glorified saint will then see every object, circumstance, incident, and step, with an eye unobscured by a vapor, and unmoistened by a tear. “Now we know in part; then shall we know even as we are known.” And what shall we know? All the mysteries of providence. Things which had made us greatly grieve, will then be seen to have been causes of the greatest joy. Clouds of threatening, which appeared to us charged with the agent of destruction, will then unveil, and reveal the love which they embosomed and concealed.

All the mysteries of faith, too, will be known. “Now we see through a glass darkly (in a riddle), but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The great “mystery of godliness” will develop and unfold its wonders. His everlasting love to His Church–His choice of a people for Himself–His sovereign grace in calling them–all, all, will shine forth with unclouded luster to the eternal praise of His great and holy name. Oh, what a perfect, harmonious, and glorious whole will all His doings in providence and grace appear, from first to last, to the undimmed eye, the ravished gaze of His white-robed, palm-bearing Church.

Many and holy are the lessons we may gather from this subject. The first is the lesson of deep humility. There are three steps in the Christian’s life. The first is–humility; the second is–humility; the third is–humility. In veiling His dealings, Jesus would “hide pride” from us. In “leading the blind by a way that they know not,” He teaches them to confide in the knowledge, truth, and goodness of their Divine escort–and that confidence is the calm unquestioning repose of faith.

July 12: By The Grace Of God

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10

We should be always careful to distinguish between the denial of self and the denial of the life of God within us. The most entire renunciation of ourselves, the most humiliating acknowledgment of our personal unworthiness, may harmonize with the strongest assurance and profession of Christ living in us.

Self-denial does not necessarily involve grace-denial. It is the profoundest act of humility in a Christian man to acknowledge the grace of God in his soul. Never is there so real a crucifixion, never so entire a renunciation of self, as when the heart, in its lowly but deep and grateful throbbings, acknowledges its indebtedness to sovereign grace, and in the fervor of its adoring love, summons the whole Church to listen to its recital of the great things God has done for it–”Come and hear, all you that fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul.” Oh yes! it is a self-denying life.

Listen to Job–”I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Listen to Isaiah–”Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Listen to the penitent publican–”God be merciful to me a sinner!” Listen again to Paul–”I live, yet not I.” Thus does a sense of sin, and a believing sight of Christ, lay the soul low before God in self-renunciation and self-abhorrence.

Judge your spiritual condition, dear reader, by this characteristic of the inner life. Is it yours? Has there been this renunciation of your sinful self and of your righteous self? Has the Spirit of God emptied you? has the grace of God humbled you? has the life of God crucified you? Are you as one in whom Christ lives, walking humbly with God!

Oh, it is the essence of vital godliness, it is the very life of true religion. If Christ is living in you, you are a humble soul. Pride never existed in the heart of Christ. His whole life was one act of the profoundest self-abasement. In the truest and in the fullest sense of the emphatic declaration, “He humbled Himself.” It is impossible, then, that He who was thus “meek and lowly in heart,” can dwell in one whom “pride compasses as a chain.” “I live, yet not I,” are two states of the renewed soul, as inseparable as any cause and effect.

A humble and a self-denying Christ dwells only with a humble and a self-denying soul. If your gifts inflate you, if your position exalts you, if your usefulness engenders pride, if the honor and distinction which God or man has placed upon you has turned you aside from the simplicity of your walk, and set you upon the work of self-seeking, self-advancing, so that you are not meek and gentle, child-like, and Christ-like in spirit, be sure of this–you are either not a partaker of the life of Christ, or else that life is at a low ebb in your soul.

Which of the two, do you think, is your real state?

July 11: Christ Living In You

“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20.

The life of Christ and the life of self cannot coexist in the same heart. If the one lives, the other dies. The sentence of death is written upon a man’s self, when the Spirit of Christ enters his heart, and quickens his soul with the life of God. “I live,” he exclaims, “yet not I.”

What a striking and beautiful example of this have we in the life and labors of the apostle Paul! Does he speak of his ministry?–what a renunciation of self appears! Lost in the greatness and grandeur of his theme, he exclaims–”We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.” Again–”Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Does he refer to his office?–what self-crucifixion! “I magnify my office.” In what way?

Was it by vaunting proclamations of its grandeur and legitimacy, its Divine institution, or its solemn functions? Never! but he magnified his office by diminishing himself, and exalting his Master. He was nothing–aye, and even his office itself was comparatively nothing–that “Christ might be all in all.”

Does he speak of his gifts and labors? what absence of self! “I am the least of the apostles, that am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Such was the religion of Paul.

His Christianity was a self-denying, self-crucifying, self-renouncing Christianity. “I live, yet not I. I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I.” Oh what a self-denying spirit was his!

But every truly spiritual man is a self-renouncing man. In the discipline of his own heart, beneath the cross of Jesus, and in the school of trial and temptation, he has been taught in some degree, that if he lives, it is not he that lives, but that it is Christ that lives in him.

Upon all his own righteousness, his duties, and doings, he tramples as to the great matter of justification; while, as fruits of the Spirit, as evidences of faith, as pulsations of the inner spiritual life, as, in a word, tending to authenticate and advance his sanctification, he desires to be “careful to maintain good works,” that God in all things might be glorified.

May 4: Ye Of Little Faith

“Why are you so fearful? how is it that you have no faith?” Mark 4:40

The habitual, or even the occasional, doubtful apprehension indulged in of his interest in Christ will tend materially to the enfeebling and decay of a believer’s faith; no cause can be more certain in its effects than this. If it be true that the exercise of faith develops its strength, it is equally true that the perpetual indulgence of doubtful apprehensions of pardon and acceptance must necessarily eat as a canker-worm at the root of faith.

Every misgiving felt, every doubt cherished, every fear yielded to, every dark providence brooded over, tends to unhinge the soul from God, and dims its near and loving view of Jesus. To doubt the love, the wisdom, and the faithfulness of God, to doubt the perfection of the work of Christ, to doubt the operation of the Spirit on the heart, what can tend more to the weakening and decay of this precious and costly grace?

Every time the soul sinks under the pressure of a doubt of its interest in Christ, the effect must be a weakening of the soul’s view of the glory, perfection, and all-sufficiency of Christ’s work. But imperfectly may the doubting Christian be aware what dishonor is done to Jesus, what reflection is cast upon His great work, by every unbelieving fear he cherishes.

It is a secret wounding of Jesus, however the soul might shrink from such an inference; it is a lowering, an undervaluing of Christ’s obedience and death- that glorious work of salvation with which the Father has declared Himself well pleased- that work with which divine justice has confessed itself satisfied- that work, on the basis of which every poor, convinced sinner is saved, and on the ground of which millions of redeemed and glorified spirits are now basking around the throne- that work, we say, is dishonored, undervalued, and slighted by every doubt and fear secretly harbored or openly expressed by a child of God. The moment a believer looks at his unworthiness more than at the righteousness of Christ- supposes that there is not a sufficiency of merit in Jesus to supply the absence of all merit in himself before God- what is it but a setting up his sinfulness and unworthiness above the infinite worth, fulness, and sufficiency of Christ’s atonement and righteousness?

There is much spurious humility among many of the dear saints of God. It is thought by some, that to be always doubting one’s pardon and acceptance is the evidence of a humble spirit. It is, allow us to say, the mark of the very opposite of a lowly and humble mind. That is true humility that credits the testimony of God- that believes because He has spoken it- that rests in the blood and righteousness and all-sufficiency of Jesus, because He has declared that “whoever believes in Him shall be saved.”

This is genuine lowliness- the blessed product of the Eternal Spirit. To go to Jesus just as I am, a poor, lost, helpless sinner- to go without previous preparation- to go glorying in my weakness, infirmity, and poverty, that the free grace, and sovereign pleasure, and infinite merit of Christ might be seen in my full pardon, justification, and eternal glory.

There is more of unmortified pride, of self-righteousness, of that principle that would make God a debtor to the creature, in the refusal of a soul fully to accept of Jesus, than is suspected. There is more real, profound humility in a simple, believing venture upon Christ, as a ruined sinner, taking Him as all its righteousness, all its pardon, all its glory, than it is possible for any mortal mind to fathom.

Doubt is ever the offspring of pride, humility is ever the handmaid of faith.

April 22: His Humiliation

“Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” Isaiah 53:4

In order to the perfection of His character as the High Priest of His people, as the Brother born for adversity, in order to be “touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” He must Himself suffer. He must know from painful experience what sorrow meant- what a wounded spirit and a broken bleeding heart, a burdened and a beclouded mind, were. In this school He must be taught, and disciplined, and trained; He must “learn obedience by the things which He suffered;” He must be made “perfect through sufferings.”

And oh, how deeply has He been taught, and how thoroughly has He been trained, and how well has He learned thus to sympathize with a suffering Church! You have gone, it may be, with your trouble to your earthly friend; you have unfolded your tale of woe, have unveiled every feeling and emotion. But, ah! how have the vacant countenance, the wandering eye, the listless air, the cold response, told you that your friend, with all his love, could not enter into your case! The care that darkened your brow had never shaded his- the sorrow that lacerated your heart had never touched his- the cup you were drinking he had never tasted. What was lacking?

Sympathy, growing out of an identity of circumstance. You have gone to another. He has trod that path before you, He has passed through that very trouble, His spirit has been accustomed to grief, His heart schooled in trial, sorrow in some of its acutest forms has been His companion; and now He is prepared to bend upon you a melting eye, to lend an attentive ear and a feeling heart, and to say, “Brother, I have known all, I have felt all, I have passed through all- I can sympathize with all.”

That Friend of friends, that Brother of brothers, is Jesus. He has gone before you; He has left a fragrance on the brim of that very cup you are now drinking; He has bedewed with tears and left the traces of His blood on that very path along which you are now walking; He has been taught in that very school in which you are now learning.

Then what encouragement to take your case, in the sweet simplicity of faith, and lay it before the Lord! to go and tell Jesus, confessing to Him, and over Him, the sin which has called forth the chastisement, and then the grief which that chastisement has occasioned. What a wonderful High Priest is Jesus!

As the bleeding Sacrifice, you may lay your hand of faith upon His head, and acknowledge your deepest guilt; and, as the merciful Priest, you may lay your head on His bosom, and disclose your deepest sorrow. O my precious Savior! must You sink to this deep humiliation, and endure this bitter suffering, in order to enter into my lonely sorrow!

October 24

“Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” Hebrews 12:9

IT is the revealed will of God that His child should meekly and silently bow to His chastening hand. And when the tried and afflicted believer “hears the rod, and who has appointed it,” and with a humble and filial acquiescence justifies the wisdom, the love, and even the tenderness that sent it—surely such a soul is a rich partaker of God’s holiness. In all these particulars, there is a surrender of the will to God, and consequently a close approximation to the holiness of His nature.

Dear reader, the point we are now upon is one of those great moments. It involves as much your holy and happy walk, as it does the glory of God. We put the simple questions—can there be any advance of sanctification in the soul, when the will is running counter to the Divine will?—and can that believer walk happily, when there is a constant opposition in his mind to all the dealings of his God and Father? Oh no! Holiness and happiness are closely allied; and both are the offspring of a humble, filial, and complete surrender of the will in all things to God. I speak not of this as an attainment in holiness soon or easily gained. Far from it. In many, it is the work of years—in all, of painful discipline. It is not on the high mount of joy, but in the low valley of humiliation, that this precious and holy surrender is learned. It is not in the summer day, when all things smile and wear a sunny aspect—then it were easy, to say, “Your will be done;” but, when a cloudy and a wintry sky looks down upon you—when the chill blast of adversity blows—when health fails, when friends die—when wealth departs—when the heart’s fondest endearments are yielded—when the Isaac is called for—when the world turns its back—when all is gone, and you are like a tree of the desert, over which the tempest has swept, stripping it of every branch—when you are brought so low, that it would seem to you lower you could not be—then to look up with filial love and exclaim, “My Father, Your will be done!”—oh, this is holiness, this is happiness indeed.

It may be God, your God and Father, is dealing thus with you now. Has He taken from you health? has He asked for the surrender of your Isaac? have riches taken to themselves wings? does the world frown? Ah! little do you think how God is now about to unfold to you the depths of His love, and to cause your will sweetly, filially, and entirely to flow into His. Let me repeat the observation—a higher degree of sanctification there cannot be, than a will entirely swallowed up in God’s. Earnestly pray for it, diligently seek it. Be jealous of the slightest opposition of your mind, watch against the least rebellion of the will, wrestle for an entire surrender—to be where, and to be what, your covenant God and Father would have you; and so shall you be made a partaker of His holiness.