July 14: Glory In Our Trubulation

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience.” Romans 5:3

By a patient endurance of suffering for His sake, the Redeemer is greatly glorified in His saints. The apostle—and few drank of the bitter cup more deeply than he—presents suffering for Christ in the soothing light of a Christian privilege. “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” “But if you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you;” for thereby Christ is glorified in you. Believer, suffering for Christ, rejoice, yes, rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer shame for His sake. What distinction is awarded you! What honor is put upon you! What a favored opportunity have you now of bringing glory to His name; for illustrating His sustaining grace, and upholding strength, and Almighty power, and infinite wisdom, and comforting love! By the firm yet mild maintenance of your principles, by the dignified yet gentle spirit of forbearance, by the uncompromising yet kind resistance to allurement, let the Redeemer be glorified in you! In all that you suffer for righteousness’ sake, let your eye be immovably fixed on Jesus. In Him you have a bright example. “Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your mind.” Remember how, for your redemption, He “endured the cross, despising the shame,” and, for your continual support, “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Remember, too, that it is one peculiar exercise and precious privilege of faith, to “wait patiently for the Lord.” The divine exhortation is, “Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” This patience of the soul is the rest of faith on a faithful God; it is a standing still to see His salvation. And the divine encouragement is, that in this posture will be found the secret of your real power. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Be watchful against everything that would mar the simplicity of your faith, and so dim the glory of Jesus; especially guard against the adoption of unlawful or doubtful measures, with a view to disentanglement from present difficulties. Endure the pressure, submit to the wrong, bear the suffering, rather than sin against God, by seeking to forestall His mind, or to antedate His purpose, or by transferring your interests from His hands to your own.

Oh, the glory that is brought to Jesus by a life of faith! Who can fully estimate it? Taking to Him the corruption, as it is discovered—the guilt, as it rises, the grief, as it is felt—the cross, as it is experienced—the wound, as it is received; yes, simply following the example of John’s disciples, who, when their master was slain, took up his headless body, and buried it, and then went and poured their mournful intelligence in Jesus’ ear, and laid their deep sorrow on His heart; this is to glorify Christ! Truly is this “precious faith,” and truly is the “trial of our faith precious,” for it renders more precious to the heart “His precious blood,” who, in His person, is unutterably “precious to those who believe.”

April 23: For His Name’s Sake

For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it has pleased the Lord to make you his people. I Samuel 12:22

GOD rests in the immutability of His love. It is a love that knows no change in its character, and no variation in its degree. There never has been a period in which the love of God in Christ towards His people has been more or less than it is at this moment. It must have been great before conversion, because then it was that He gave His only begotten Son, that they might live through Him. Then, too, it was He sent His own Spirit to regenerate their minds, and to make them new creatures in Christ Jesus. If He thus loved them before conversion, when they were yet sinners, do you think, dear reader, that His love can be less since conversion! Impossible!

God rests in the unchangeableness of His love towards His saints. Nothing can move Him from it. When He set His heart upon His people, He foresaw and foreknew all that was in them. He knew when they would revolt, when they would start aside like a broken bow, when they would startle and fall. He knew all their waywardness, folly, and ingratitude. “I knew that you would deal very treacherously,” says God. And yet He loved them.

Acquainted with their sin, does He not chasten it? and in chastening, does He withdraw His love from them? Listen to His own words—”If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.” What language can more strongly set forth the Lord’s determination to correct the departures of His people, while yet resting in the unchangeableness of His love towards them?

If God thus rests in His love towards us, how jealous ought we to be of the fervor and fidelity of our love to Him! Ah! how inconstant, wavering, and restless have been our affections! How little have we rested in our love to Christ! Other objects have attracted us away from it; we have been as changeable as the wind, and as unstable as the sea. But let us watch over this holy affection, apart from which God takes no pleasure in our sacrifices or services. Let it be our aim to yield up whatever rivals Christ. He sacrificed all for the love He bore us; let us sacrifice all that He requires for the love we bear Him.

Jesus is worthy—oh how worthy!—of our deepest, strongest, most self-consuming affection. And God, who gave us His Son, asks nothing in return but that we give Him our hearts. Let His love, then, constrain us to a more unreserved obedience, to a holier walk, to a more ardent, inseparable attachment to Him, to His people, and to His cause. Let us, in this day of easy and abounding profession—this day of papal encroachment and of popish imitation—this day of exaltation of human authority above the word of God—this day of error, of rebuke, and of blasphemy—this day of rapid and of excited action—this last solemn dispensation of the world, the events of which are rapidly ushering in the coming of the Son of man—let us, under the influence of more simple faith, more fervent love, and brightening hope, “go forth unto Jesus without the camp, bearing His reproach,” resting amid our conflict and our toil, where the Father rests—where the sinner rests—where we may rest—in Jesus.

November 14: Delivered And Preserved

“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:18

Things temporary and transient, be they sad or of joyous, pleasant or painful; indwelling sin, temporary trial, occasional temptations, the momentary suspensions of God’s realized love—none of these, or any other things present; shall separate from Christ. What human foresight can predict the future of the earthly history of the child of God? What human hand can uplift the veil that conceals the events that shall yet transpire in his history, before he reaches that perfect world where there will be no future, but one eternal present?

Oh, what goodness hides it from our view! But be that future what it may—shady or sunny, stormy or serene—God will stand fast to His covenant with His church, and Christ to His union with His people. Things to come, be they more terrible than things that are past, or that are now, shall not touch their interest in the Lord’s love.

No elevation to which He may advance them, no height of rank, or wealth, or honor, or influence, or usefulness, shall peril their place in His love. Thus it was the Lord advanced Moses, and David, and Joseph, and Gideon; but in their elevation to worldly distinction, power, and affluence, they were kept walking humbly with God—and this was the secret of their safety. “The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk in mine high places.” From the loftiest height to the lowest depth of adversity, God can bring His servant, yet love him still with an unchanged and deathless affection. But no depth of soul-distress, no depth of poverty, or suffering, or humiliation, shall disturb the repose, or peril the security, of a believing soul in the love of God.

If there be any other thing or being in the wide universe that wears a threatening or unkindly aspect towards the Christian, Divine power shall restrain its force, saying to the proud waves, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther.” And thus all the billows, amid which the ark has for ages been tossed, shall but bear it gently and triumphantly onward to the mount of God.

On that mount, beloved, where now are gathering all who have the Father’s name written on their foreheads, we too, through grace, shall stand, eternally extolling the Lamb, through Him who, because He died, there is for us no condemnation from Divine justice, and through Him who, because He lives, there is for us no separation from Divine love.

October 17: Our Security

“These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you: as you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him.” John 17:1, 2

The certain glorification with Jesus of every believer is a truth as much involving the honor of God, as it does the present comfort and future happiness of the church. The opposite sentiment—the possibility of a child of God falling short of eternal glory (a doctrine, let it be observed, at total variance with the entire Scriptures of truth), by unhinging the soul from God, and throwing it back completely upon itself, must necessarily lead to low and dishonoring views of the Divine character; while it begets in the mind a spirit of bondage, and a sense of the most painful apprehension, both equally inimical to a healthy and fruitful Christianity.

But the most solemn, I may say awful, light in which the doctrine of the believer’s final insecurity presents itself is, that it casts a thick veil over the glory of Immanuel. It touches every perfection of his being. Oh could the dear saints of God, thus tossed in the troubled sea of doubt, and thus agitated with a “fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation,” but be brought to see how the Jesus whom they love is wounded, dishonored, and shorn of His glory by this unscriptural tenet, would they not unhesitatingly renounce it as leading to a result so fearful? Can that, I earnestly ask, be a doctrine of Divine revelation, which tends in the slightest degree to shade the glory of Christ? If one of those given to Him of His Father—one whose sins He carried, whose curse He bore, whose soul He has renewed by the grace of His Spirit—were permitted finally and eternally to perish, where would be His glory? where the glory of His truth? where the glory of His power? where the glory of His love? where the glory of His work? Gone! Every perfection of His Divine being would be impeached, and every beam of His Divine glory would be tarnished.
But all shall be brought safely to heaven. Hark, how distinctly and authoritatively He pleads for this, their crowning blessing, when on the eve of His mysterious passion, and about to spring from His cross to His throne. “Father, I will that they also whom You have given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory.” Sublime prayer!—comprehensive and tender petition! How did the Head long to have with Him, where He was, each member of His body! Having had fellowship with Him in His humiliation, it was His desire that they should have fellowship with Him in His glory.

And this He asks not as a gift, but claims as a right. In virtue of His covenant engagement with the Father, His full satisfaction to Divine justice, His perfect obedience to the Divine law, His finished redemption of His people, He reverently bows at the mercy-seat, and pours out His full soul, and unburdens His loving heart, in the most sublime petition that ever ascended from mortal lip: “Father, I will that they also whom You have given me be with me where I am.”

And mark the reason why—”that they may behold my glory.” Consummation of glory!—overflowing cup of bliss!—height of perfect holiness! Was it the parting charge of Joseph to His brethren—”You shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall haste and bring down my father here”? Our Joseph, with love infinitely more intense, desires that all His brethren be brought to heaven, that they may behold His glory there—the glory of His unveiled Deity—the glory of His glorified humanity—and the glory to which, as Mediator, His Father has advanced Him.

September 13: What Manner Of Love

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1

IT is not strange that the fact of his adoption should meet with much misgiving in the Christian’s mind, seeing that it is a truth so spiritual, flows from a source so concealed, and has its seat in the profound recesses of the soul. The very stupendousness of the relationship staggers our belief. To be fully assured of our divine adoption demands other than the testimony either of our own feelings, or the opinion of men.

Our feelings—sometimes excited and visionary—may mislead; the opinion of others—often fond and partial—may deceive us. The grand, the divine, and only safe testimony is “the Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit.” There exists a strong combination of evil, tending to shake the Christian’s confidence in the belief of his sonship.

Satan is ever on the watch to insinuate the doubt. He tried the experiment with our Lord: “If You be the Son of God.” In no instance would it appear that he actually denied the truth of Christ’s Divine Sonship; the utmost that his temerity permitted was the suggestion to the mind of a doubt; leaving it there to its own working. Our blessed Lord thus assailed, it is no marvel that His disciples should be exposed to a like assault.

The world, too, presumes to call it in question. “The world knows us not, because it knew Him not.” Ignorant of the Divine Original, how can it recognize the Divine lineaments in the faint and imperfect copy? It has no vocabulary by which it can decipher the “new name written in the white stone.” The sons of God are in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, illumining it with their light, and preserving it by their grace, yet disguised from its knowledge, and hidden from its view.

But the strongest doubts touching the validity of his adoption are those engender in the believer’s own mind. Oh! there is much there to generate and foster the painful misgiving. We have said that the very greatness of the favor, the stupendousness of the relationship, startles the mind, and staggers our faith. “What! to be a child of God! God my Father! can I be the subject of a change so great, of a relationship so exalted? Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You should exalt me to be a King’s son? Is this the manner of men, O Lord God?”

And then, there crowd upon the believer’s mind thoughts of his own sinfulness and unworthiness of so distinguished a blessing. “Can it be? with such a depravity of heart, such carnality of mind, such rebellion of will, such a propensity to evil each moment, and in everything such backslidings and flaws, does there yet exist within me a nature that links me with the Divine? It seems impossible!”

And when to all this are added the varied dispensations of his Heavenly Father, often wearing a rough garb, assuming an aspect somber, threatening, and crushing, oh, it is no marvel that, staggered by a discipline so severe, the fact of God’s love to him, and of his close and tender relation to God, should sometimes be a matter of painful doubt; that thus he should reason—”If His child, reposing in His heart, and sealed upon His arm, why is it thus? Would He not have spared me this heavy stroke? Would not this cup have passed my lips? Would He have asked me to slay my Isaac, to resign my Benjamin? All these things are against me.”

And thus are the children of God constantly tempted to question the fact of their adoption.

May 13: Sealed Unto Redemption

“The Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

The believer will never lose the sealing of the Spirit. The impression of God’s pardoning love, made upon the heart by the Holy Spirit, is never entirely effaced.

We do not say that there are no moments when the “consolations of God are small” with the believer- when he shall have no severe “fightings within, and fears without,” when the experience of the Church shall be his, “I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spoke: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer;”- all this he may experience, and still not lose the sealing of the Spirit.

In the midst of it all, yes, in the lowest depth, there shall be the abiding conviction of an interest in God’s love, which sustains, animates, and comforts. It will be seen, by reverting to the state of the Church above alluded to, that, although there was the consciousness of her beloved’s withdrawment- though he was gone, and she sought him but could not find him, called him but he gave her no answer- yet not for one moment did she lose the impression that He was still her beloved. Here was the glorious triumph of faith, in the hour when all was loneliness, desolation, and joylessness. Here was the sealing of the Spirit which never left her, even though her “beloved had gone.”

And while not a beam of His beauty glanced upon her soul, nor a note of His voice fell upon her ear, she still could look up and exclaim, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” Oh mighty power of faith, that can anchor the soul firm on Jesus, in the darkest and wildest tempest! And this is but the sealing of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit so deeply impressing on the heart a sense of pardoning love- so firmly establishing it in the faithfulness of God- the finished work of Christ- the stability of the covenant, and the soul’s adoption into the one family, that in the gloomiest hour, and under the most trying dispensation, there is that which keeps the soul steady to its center- Jehovah-Jesus.

And even should his sun go down behind a mist, he has the sustaining assurance that it will rise upon another world, in peerless, cloudless splendor. O yes! the sealing of the Spirit is a permanent, abiding impression. It is “unto the day of redemption,”- the day when there shall be no more conflict, no more darkness, no more sin. It is not to the day of pardon- for he cannot be more entirely pardoned than he is; it is not to the day of acceptance- for he cannot be more fully accepted than now- no, it is to the glorious “day of redemption”- the day of complete emancipation, longed for by the sons of God, and even sighed for by the “whole creation:” “and not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

Oh, shout for joy, you sealed of the Lord! You tried and afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted- you who find the wilderness to be but a wilderness, a valley of tears- the way rougher and rougher, narrower and narrower- lift up your heads with joy, the hour of “your redemption draws near,” and the “days of your mourning shall be ended.” And this is your security- a faithful, covenant-keeping God, “who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”

May 5: A Soul’s Anchor

“If we believe not, yet he abides faithful; he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

This is the only true and secure anchorage-ground for a poor soul, tossed amid the waves of doubt and perplexity- to know that God cannot alter His word; that it is impossible that He should lie; that were He to deviate from His infinite perfection, He would cease to be a perfect being, and consequently would cease to be God.

To know, too, that He is faithful in the midst of the unfaithfulness and perpetual startings aside of His child- faithful in the depth of the deepest affliction, faithful when earthly hopes wither, human cisterns are broken, and when the soul is led to exclaim, “His faithfulness has failed!” Oh, what a spring to a tried and drooping faith is this view which God Himself has given of His own glorious and perfect character!

It is no small triumph of faith to walk with God, when all is darkness with the soul, and there is no light; to feel amid the roaring of the waves that still He is faithful- that though He slay, yet the soul can trust Him; that though He were to take all else away, He would never remove Himself from His people.

Oh glorious triumph of faith! “Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.”

February 1

“It is God who justifies.” Romans 8:33.

Behold the eternal security of the weakest believer in Jesus. The act of justification, once passed under the great seal of the resurrection of Christ, God can never revoke without denying Himself. Here is our safety. Here is the ground of our dauntless challenge, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” What can I need more? What more can I ask? If God, the God of spotless purity, the God of inflexible righteousness, justifies me, “who is he that condemns? ” Sin may condemn, but it is God that justifies! The law may alarm, but it is God that justifies! Satan may accuse, but it is God that justifies! Death may terrify, but it is God that justifies! “If GOD is for us, who can be against us?” Who will dare condemn the soul whom He justifies? How gloriously will this truth shine forth in the great day of judgment! Every accuser will then be dumb. Every tongue will then be silent. Nothing shall be laid to the charge of God’s elect. GOD Himself shall pronounce them fully, and forever justified: “And those He justifies, He also glorifies.”

 

October 31

“‘Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” Isaiah 40:1

THERE are those whose lamps of Christian profession will not go out when the Lord appears. They are His own chosen, redeemed, and called people. Their light, by reason of manifold infirmities, may often have burned but dimly through life; but there is vital religion in the soul—the golden precious oil of grace, flowing from Jesus into their hearts; and this can never be extinguished. Many were the hostile influences against which their weak grace had to contend, many were the trials of their feeble faith, but the light never quite went out. The waves of sorrow threatened to extinguish it; the floods of inbred evil threatened to extinguish it; the cold blasts of adversity threatened to extinguish it; and the stumbling of the walk, the inconstancy of the heart, the declension of the soul, often for a while, weakened and obscured it; but there it is, living, burning, and brightening, as inextinguishable and as deathless as the source from where it came.

The grace of God in the heart is as imperishable, and the life of God in the soul is as immortal, as God Himself. That light of knowledge enkindled in the mind, and of love glowing in the heart, and of holiness shining in the life, will burn in the upper temple in increasing effulgence of glory through eternity. The divine light of Christian profession, which holy grief for sin has enkindled, which love to God has enkindled, which the in-being of the Holy Spirit has enkindled, will outshine and outlive the sun in the firmament of heaven. That sun shall be extinguished, those stars shall fall, and that moon shall be turned into blood, but the feeblest spark of grace in the soul shall live forever. The Lord watches His own work with sleepless vigilance. When the vessel is exhausted, He stands by and replenishes it; when the light burns dimly, He is near to revive it; when the cold winds blow rudely, and the rough waves swell high, He is riding upon those winds, and walking upon those waves, to protect this the spark of His own kindling. The light that is in you is light flowing from Jesus, the “Fountain of light.” And can an infinite fountain be exhausted? When the sun is extinguished, then all the lesser lights, deriving their faint effulgence from Him, will be extinguished too—but not until then.

Who is it that has often fanned the smoking flax? Even He who will never quench the faintest spark of living light in the soul. “You will light my candle.” And if the Lord light it, what power can put it out? Is not His love the sunshine of your soul? Is He not Himself your morning star? Is it not in His light that you see light, even the “light of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ”? Oh, then, “Arise and shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.”

October 3

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 24, 25

WHAT is the great evil of which the true saints of God most stand in jeopardy, and which their timid, fearful hearts most dread? Is it not secret and outward backsliding from God after conversion? Surely it is, as the experience of every honest, upright, God-fearing man will testify. It is his consolation, then, to know that Jesus is “able to keep him from falling.” This is the most overwhelming evil that stares the believer in the face. Some, but imperfectly taught in the word, are dreading awful apostasy from the faith here, and final condemnation from the presence of God hereafter—believing that though Christ has made full satisfaction for their sins to Divine justice, has cancelled the mighty debt, has imputed to them His righteousness, has blotted out their iniquities, has called, renewed, sanctified, and taken full possession of them by His Spirit, and has ascended up on high, to plead their cause with the Father—that yet, after all this stupendous exercise of power, and this matchless display of free grace, they may be left to utter apostasy from God, and be finally and eternally lost. If there is one doctrine more awful in it nature, distressing in its consequences, and directly opposed to the glory of God and the honor of Christ, than another, methinks it is this. Others, again, more clearly taught my the Spirit, are heard to say, “I believe in the stability of the covenant, in the unchangeableness of God’s love, and in the faithfulness of my heavenly Father; but I fear lest some day under some sharp temptation—some burst of indwelling sin, when the enemy shall come in as a flood—I shall fall, to the wounding of my peace, to the shame of my brethren, and to the dishonoring of Christ.” Dear believer, truly you would fall, were He to leave you to your own keeping for one moment; but Jesus is able to keep you from falling. Read the promises, believe them, rest upon them. A simple glance will present to the believer’s eye a threefold cord, by which he is kept from falling. In the first place, God the Father keeps him—”kept by the power of God;” the power that created and upholds the world keeps the believer. The eternal purpose, love, and grace of the Father keeps him: this is the first cord. Again, God the Son keeps him: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” The covenant engagements, the perfect obedience, the atoning death of Immanuel, keep the believer: this is the second cord. Yet again, God the Holy Spirit keeps him: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (marg. shall put him to flight). The tender love, the covenant faithfulness, and the omnipotent power of the Eternal Spirit keep the believer: this is the third cord. And “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” But with these promises of the triune God to keep His people from falling, He has wisely and graciously connected the diligent, prayerful use of all the means which He has appointed for this end.