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.

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Can You Lose Your Salvation? An Exposition of Hebrews 6:4-6

It is no uncommon thing for the Lord’s backsliding children to be sadly and severely distressed and cast down by certain portions of God’s Word, containing delineations of character and denunciations of woe which they suppose applicable to themselves; and which, so applied, inconceivably aggravate their soul distress, their mental anguish, and incapacitate them from receiving the promises and accepting the comfort which God, in His Word, so profusely and so graciously extends to His children, returning from their backslidings, with weeping and mourning, confession and prayer.

Among the declarations thus referred to, which are supposed to have, the most direct application, and to wear the most threatening aspect, are those, so frequently quoted and as frequently misinterpreted and misapplied, found in the 6th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews from the 4th to the 6th verse:

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Such are the solemn words, often perused and pondered with terror and despair by the child of God, which we now propose briefly to consider and explain. But before venturing upon their exposition let me, in the outset, distinctly and emphatically give it as my judgment that they in nowise refer to the case of the regenerate, and that by no ingenuity of criticism, and by no perversion of error, can they be made to bear strictly upon a state of real grace, or to invalidate in the slightest degree the revealed doctrine of the final salvation of the elect of God. Thus affirming our belief that the persons referred to by the apostle were not true converts to Christianity, had never passed into a state of spiritual regeneration, let us take each separate clause of these remarkable passages, and endeavor, in the fear of God, rightly to explain, and properly to apply His own truth.

“Those who were once enlightened.”

Not spiritually or savingly enlightened. The persons to whom these passages refer had some perception of the doctrines and principles of Christianity,—the mind was intelligent, the judgment informed,—but nothing more. They had received the knowledge of the truth in the intellect, but not the quickening, sanctifying power of the truth in the heart. It was an illumination of the mind only. They were so enlightened as to “see the evil effects of sin, but not the evil that is in sin; to see the good things which come from Christ, but not the goodness that is in Christ; so as to reform externally, but not to be sanctified internally; to have knowledge of the gospel doctrinally, but not experimentally; yes, to have such light into it as to be able to preach it to others, and yet be destitute of the grace of God.” This is the enlightenment of which the apostle speaks, and nothing more. Their religion would, in modern terms, be denominated the religion of the intellect—a religion which, however sound in its orthodoxy and logical in its reasoning, is but as a palace of ice floating amid the snows and gloom of the polar seas.

But this description cannot apply to you, penitent child of God! The truth as it is in Jesus has enlightened your judgment, and from thence has penetrated your heart, and in its light you see the sinfulness of your backslidings, the consciousness of which has brought you in sorrow and confession to the Savior’s feet. It is safe, therefore, to conclude that you are not one of those persons whom the apostle describes as being once enlightened, as having swerved from the truth, whom it was impossible again to recover, seeing they had rejected the evidence upon which they avowed their belief in, and their attachment to, Christianity—the only evidence Christianity offers in proof of its divinity.

“And have tasted of the heavenly gift.”

A slight difference of opinion has existed as to the “gift” here referred to; some expositors, among whom is Owen, make the next clause exegetical of the present one. Without, however, perplexing the reader with needless criticism, we at once offer it as our opinion that the “heavenly gift” is the same as the “unspeakable gift” referred to in another place and by the same writer. It is quite possible for an apostate from the truth, having the illumination we have spoken of, to have possessed a certain knowledge of Christ, “the heavenly gift,” without being renewed, sanctified, or saved. Does not Paul speak of his “no more knowing Christ after the flesh,” as some still do, with a carnal, fleshly knowledge? Does he not, in another place, describe the conduct of some who had so far tasted of the heavenly gift as to “preach Christ,” but to preach Him with “envy and strife, and contention, not sincerely?”

And yet again, is it not true that the same apostle warns certain individuals against the sin of “eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord unworthily?” What does all this prove but that those who have tasted of the heavenly gift have no other knowledge of Christ than that which is natural, notional, and speculative? They have not Christ in their affections,—Christ as the object of supreme delight and love,—nor Christ in them the hope of glory. But you have not so learned Christ, O trembling penitent! It has pleased God to reveal His Son in you. You have tasted, felt, and handled, with a living, appropriating faith, the Lord Jesus. Your taste of this heavenly gift has been a heart-experience of His preciousness and fullness. And although you have gone astray like a lost sheep, yet you have not forgotten the power and savor of His precious name, which is now more than ever to you as ointment poured forth. And now your heart pines and your soul yearns to retrace its steps, to walk once more with the Shepherd whom you have forsaken, and to lie down again with the flock from whom you have strayed. What does this stirring within you prove,—this contrition, self-abhorrence, and sin-loathing,—but that you are not an apostate from the faith, a wanderer only from the fold, back to whose pasture and repose the faithful Shepherd is gently conducting you?

“And were made partakers of the Holy Spirit.”

This clause is more clear and definite. How far an individual may be said to partake of the Holy Spirit, and not be savingly converted, has been long a mooted question. These words, however, place the matter beyond doubt. The unhappy persons to whom they refer were undoubtedly partakers of the Holy Spirit, but in what sense? Let it be remembered that it was a distinctive feature of the early Church that there existed within its pale those who were endowed, some with ordinary, and others with extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit; such as the power of working miracles, of prophesying, and of speaking with tongues, and that these persons were possessed of, and exercised in many instances these gifts, as instruments of pride, covetousness, and ambition,—the works of the flesh in alliance with the gifts of the Spirit!

Such, for example, was Simon Magus, who sought these supernatural endowments, not for the glory of God, but as sources of gain, and as ministering to his carnal aspirations. In his famous letter on “charity,” addressed to the Church at Corinth, Paul recognizes the fact, that he might be so far a partaker of the Holy Spirit as to speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and understand all prophecies, and all mysteries, and yet be destitute of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating grace. And clearly it is to such individuals our Lord so pointedly and solemnly refers in His dreadful description of the judgment, when He says, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?” To whom He will say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you that work iniquity.” In the absence of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, which we believe to have ceased in the Church with the last of the apostles, men may still be endowed with many ordinary spiritual gifts, conferring upon them a name, placing them upon a pinnacle of the temple, and winning for them the admiration and homage of their fellows, who yet are destitute of the converting grace of the Spirit. This is all that is meant by having been “made partakers of the Holy Spirit.”

But your case, penitent believer, bears no analogy to this. What does your present contrition, your distress and anguish of soul prove, but that you are quickened with spiritual life, and that the Holy Spirit dwells in you? that, despite your sinfulness, waywardness, and follies,—the grieving and wounding and quenching He has received at your hands,— the Spirit has not utterly departed from you, but that still your body is His temple and your heart His home?

“And have tasted the good word of God.”

The meaning of this clause is obvious. The revealed word, more especially the gospel of God, is the only interpretation it will admit. These false professors, these willful apostates, of whom the apostle writes, had heard the word of God with the outward ear, and had so far tasted its power as to yield an intellectual assent to its doctrines, and even to have felt some transient emotion, some stirring of the natural affections by the sublime and dreadful tenderness of its revelations. They had marked, too, the extraordinary power and triumph of the truth in the souls of others, and, moved by the law of sympathy, they were for a while the subjects of a natural and evanescent joy.

They had witnessed the power of Satan in the human soul—how the gospel overcame it; the spell which the world wove around the heart—how the gospel had broke it; the period of perplexity—how the gospel had guided it; the season of sorrow—how the gospel had consoled it; the hour of sickness—how the gospel had strengthened it; the bed of death—how the gospel had smoothed it; the darkness of the sepulcher—how the gospel had illumined it; the fear of perdition—how the gospel had quelled it; the hope of salvation—how the gospel had confirmed it; the glory of immortality—how the gospel had unveiled it;—and their hearts were thrilled with a transient glow of gladness. Such were the emotions of Herod when he sent for John, did many things, and heard him gladly. And such, too, was the case of the stony-ground hearers, who heard the word, and anon received it with joy, but by and by they were offended, and fell away, not having root in themselves. These are they who had “tasted the good word of God,” and this is all that they had experienced of its power.

But not such is your experience, sorrowing soul! You have more than tasted, you have eaten of the good word of God, and His word is unto you the joy and the rejoicing of your heart. In that word your longing, sorrowful soul now hopes,—upon it, weary and sad, your heart now rests, until God shall fulfill its promise, and restore unto you the joy of His salvation.

“And the powers of the world to come.”

The age to come, as the word has been, and we think properly, rendered. Clearly the allusion is to the Messianic age, or the time and dispensation of the Messiah. This was the age, or the “world to come,” to which the apostle refers in another place: “The world to come, whereof we speak.” He is clearly referring to the gospel, in contradistinction to the legal dispensation; in the latter the word was spoken by angels, in the former the word was spoken by Christ. This age, or gospel dispensation, was to be ushered in and distinguished, “both by signs and wonders, and with diverse miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Now, it will not be difficult to trace the application of this to the apostates whom these passages describe. They had lived in the early dawn of the gospel age, and amid its most wondrous and stirring scenes. They had beheld these signs, had marked these wonders, and perhaps had wrought these miracles. And so they had “tasted of the powers of the world to come.” All this finds no application to your case, O backsliding yet returning child of God!

Now follows the sentence of the Holy Spirit upon these apostates from the profession of their faith. That sentence is the most solemn, the most terrible, that ever lighted upon the human soul.

“It is impossible, . . . if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

The key to the explanation of this dreadful mystery is found in the word “repentance.” Could they become the subjects of true repentance there might be hope, but with them this was impossible. For the fearful sin which they had committed, no repentance was provided,—for the deep guilt which they had contracted, no sacrifice had been offered,—from the apostasy into which they had plunged, no avenue of return had been made,—in a word, for the crime with which they were charged, no remission was given! Their salvation was IMPOSSIBLE! After having professed to believe in, and to have received the Messiah as the Son of God, as the Savior of men, they had openly and willfully and utterly rejected Him. By so doing they had repaired to Gethsemane, and justified the treacherous betrayal of Christ by Judas; they had gone to Calvary, and ratified the cruel murder of Christ by the Jews; they had fraternized with His enemies, and had joined their shout, “Away with Him! away with Him! Crucify Him! crucify Him!”

And so they had “crucified the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” After having passed through all these stages of sin, of crime, and guilt,—having utterly abjured and renounced the only means and object and grace of repentance,—it was IMPOSSIBLE that they could be renewed, recovered, saved! For them “there remained no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which should devour the adversaries.”

But, beloved child of God! we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation. The Holy Spirit has given you the truest, the strongest evidence of spiritual life in your soul—a broken and a contrite heart. Bring this sacrifice, and lay it upon Christ our “Altar,” and God will accept it. Let the holy lessons we learn from the mournful, the irretrievable, the hopeless case of the willful apostate be—not to rest on spiritual illumination, however great, nor on spiritual gifts, however eminent, nor on religious feelings, however ecstatic, but seek after the mortification of sin, a closer communion with the Lord, and still more to abound in those “fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ unto the praise and glory of God.”

Upon you these dreadful words fling no darkling shadow, but your path is that of “the just, which is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day.”

Help Heavenward

Soul Trouble

“Now my soul is deeply troubled.” –John 12:27

Believer in Jesus, do you possess soul-sorrow? A sense of sin troubles you, the consciousness of guilt distresses you, and you begin to think you know nothing of God’s pardoning love. Oh, what would you not give to be quite sure that your sins were all forgiven for Jesus’ sake!

Continue reading “Soul Trouble”

January 8: Through Faith

What must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house. Acts 16:30-31

THE faith of the child of God stands in the righteousness of the God-man Mediator—”the righteousness which is of God by faith.” This faith has not been inappropriately termed the “poor man’s grace.” It is so because it comes to Jesus empty-handed. It travels to Christ in poverty and rags, in want and in woe. It is the grace of him who, feeling the working of an inward plague, and repudiating all idea of human merit, appears at the door of mercy, “poor in spirit,” humbly knocking, and earnestly suing, and freely receiving, as a pensioner, the blessing of sovereign grace.

Oh, how glorious to the eye of such an one appears the righteousness of the Incarnate God! How precious to his heart the atoning blood of Jesus! How suitable and attractive to his view the foundation to which he is invited, and upon which, with the confidence of faith, he is encouraged to build his assured hope of future glory! Who would not desire, and who would not seek, establishment in a faith like this? a faith that can read its pardon in the blood—its justification in the righteousness—its sanctification in the grace, and its security in the resurrection, life, and intercession of the great High Priest enthroned in heaven.

Oh, let a man’s faith cling to this, and he is a saved man! And to be saved! Oh, how will eternity prolong the swelling chant!—”Saved, for ever saved! A sinner the very chief—a saint the very least—a child the most unworthy! yet here, through grace, I am saved, forever saved!” Before the glory and importance of this salvation, oh, how do fade and disappear the grandeur and the significance of all other objects! “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” “This is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life, and he that has not the Son has not life.”

But the faith of the true believer is built upon Christ. It has Christ for its basis, Christ for its object, Christ for its beginning and its end. It is built upon the Godhead of His person, the obedience of His life, and the vicariousness of His death. He who builds his faith short of Deity, builds upon the treacherous sand which the first heaving billow sweeps from beneath his feet. We want, in the great matter of our salvation, Deity to become incarnate—Deity to obey—Deity to atone—Deity to justify—Deity to uphold—Deity to comfort—and Deity to bring us at last to the glorious abode of Deity, to dwell amid its splendors forever.

A Mother’s Voice From The Grave

An excerpt taken from Christian Experience. This letter was written by Mary Winslow and was found by the family after her death. The introduction is penned by Octavius:

The following letter, addressed to her children, was found among Mrs. Winslow’s papers after her decease. Although strictly of a domestic character, there is yet much in its holy breathings which may prove God’s voice to other families. Influenced by this feeling, the Editor is constrained to append it to the volume, with the hope that thus she, being dead, may yet speak to many, with the loving, holy earnestness of a”Mother in Israel.” It may be encouraging to add, that the prayers it contains have not been wholly unanswered.

My Dearest Children,

It pleased God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, seventy-five years ago, to bring your mother into this sinful,trying, and disappointing world. “Few and evil,” as old Jacob said, “have been the days of my pilgrimage;” and yet I can add, “goodness and mercy, with all long-suffering patience, have followed me all my days,” and to the present moment I am here to praise His holy name. I can trace God’s gracious hand from the day of my birth to the present moment.

His watchful providence was all around me, and even before I entered upon this poor earth, this vale of tears, it was. His most gracious design that I should be a saved sinner. Wondrous has been His love, and marvellous in my eyes; still have I to “sing of judgment and of mercy.” Many trials, much of the discipline of the Covenant I needed, and my heavenly Father withheld not His parental rod. While one hand was laid heavily upon me, the other sustained and upheld me. All was designed in love to humble me, and to cause me to know Him “whom to know is life eternal.” I thank Him for all, not only on my own account, but on yours also.

Great has been His mercy towards you. In the school of adversity were you trained. He watched over you in a strange land. He suffered no evil to overpower you. Where a mother’s eye could not follow you, His blessed, loving, Fatherly eye was upon you. In the days of my deep sorrow you know that God gave me a promise. In the dark hours of the night, when sleep had forsaken my eyes, and my heart was overwhelmed with anxious care, then did He bow the heavens, and, in condescending mercy, spoke peace and consolation to my tried soul. He then, in that most blessed and eventful hour, promised to be a Father to my fatherless children, and to be my God. And O how He has fulfilled that promise! Who has supplied all your wants? Who has poured abundance into your lap? Has not God done it? Why where you not left destitute, and dependent in a strange land? Who has the gold and silver at His command? Not you. Who has all hearts at His disposal? Not you. Who has preserved you, while crossing a mighty ocean, from a watery grave? Has not God been the Guide of your youth? Has He not watched over you by day and by night, by sea and by land? Has He not supplied all your wants? Dare not say, oh dare not say, “My talents, my industry, my exertions have gotten me these things.”

Oh dare, dare not say it! Give God the glory, and acknowledge it was Him, and Him alone. But what have been the returns? What have you done with what God has given you? He has poured richly into your lap, but what returns have you made for all His goodness to you? Have you made any? Have you laid out what He has given you to the glory of His blessed name? Have you remembered and acknowledged Him in all your ways? Have you gone to Him as your reconciled Father in Christ Jesus? Do you know Him? Do you love Him—Oh, do you love Him who has been so good to you, watching over you by day and by night! Do you love Him? I fear for some of you. My heart trembles for you. I mourn over you. I pray for you. I acknowledge your ingratitude, and bewail before Him your sins. How often do I say, “Spare them, O Lord, and come not into judgment with them.” You know not, nor ever will know until you enter eternity, the ten thousand petitions that have gone up, and are still going up for your souls, your never dying souls.

I thank God for some that, I trust, have fled to Jesus and are saved. For these I pray constantly that they may not only hold fast what they do know, but that they may increase in love, and sweet and holy obedience. But my soul is often, oh how often, cast down on account of others. O eternity, eternity can alone declare to you the prayers offered up, and the tears that have been shed by your anxious mother for your precious and immortal souls. Not a day passes but I bring you before the Lord. A soul lost, or a soul saved! A little while and I pass away. My time is shortening. You will not long have a praying mother: heaven is my home. Shall I meet you there? Will there be one missing? God forbid! Oh did you know how my soul yearns over you! how often I weep before the Lord and confess your base ingratitude to the best of Friends, the best of Fathers. Did He not say He would be a Father to you? Has He not fulfilled that promise? What returns have you made? Search, oh search your hearts, and see how matters stand between you and a heart-searching God. God is not mocked. A little while and you will stand in His presence. A few years, months, perhaps days, and you stand face to face before a holy, holy Lord God.

Trifle not with your precious souls, trifle not with God. And you, my beloved children, who do know Jesus as your Elder Brother, hold fast that you have received, and let no man take your crown. Aim to walk humbly and closely with God. Live for God, labour for Christ, live for eternity; and when I am called hence, let me have the unspeakable comfort of knowing we shall meet again in glory, to part no more for ever. May the Lord, in His infinite tender mercy, bless you all, is the daily prayer of,

Your affectionate Mother,

MARY WINSLOW


October 28: God’s Greatest Work

“For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9

Salvation is God’s greatest work; in nothing has He so manifested forth His glory as in this. He embarked all His infinite resources, and staked all His Divine honor, in the accomplishment of this work so dear to His heart—the salvation of His church. The universe is full of His beauty, but myriads of worlds, on a scale infinitely more vast and magnificent than this, could give no such idea of God as the salvation of a single sinner.

Salvation required the revelation and the harmony of all the Divine perfections. Creation affords only a partial view of God. It displays His natural but not His moral attributes. It portrays His wisdom, His goodness, His power; but it gives no idea of His holiness, His justice, His truth, His love. It is but the alphabet, the shadow of God. These are parts of His ways, and how little of Him is known!

But in the person of Immanuel, in the cross of Christ, in the finished work of redemption, God appears in full-orbed majesty. And when the believing soul surveys this wondrous expedient of reconciling all the interests of heaven, of uniting all the perfection of Jehovah in the salvation of sinners by the blood of the cross—”Mercy and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each other”—it exclaims in full satisfaction with the salvation of God—”Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”

The anxious question of an awakened soul, as it bears its weight of sin to the cross, is, “Is the salvation of the Lord Jesus a work commensurate with my case? Will it meet my individual condition as a sinner? May I, in a deep conviction of my guiltiness, venture my soul upon Jesus? Am I warranted, without a work of my own, apart from all my merit or my demerit, to believe in Christ and indulge the hope that I shall be saved?”

The Bible, in brief but emphatic sentences, answers these inquiries. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” “Him that comes unto me I will in no wise cast out.” “By grace are you saved.” “If by grace, then it is no more of works.” “You are complete in Him.” The Holy Spirit giving the inquirer a possession of these declarations, working the faith that receives the Lord Jesus into the heart, the believing soul is enabled to say, “I see that it is a salvation for sinners—for the vilest, the poorest, the most unworthy. I came to Christ, and was received; I believed in Him, rested in Him, and I am saved. Christ is mine, His salvation is mine, His promises are mine, His advocacy is mine, His heaven is mine.”

Dear reader, is your soul saved? Are you converted by the Spirit of God? Everything else in comparison is but as the bubble that floats down the stream. This busy life will soon cease; its last thought, and care, and anxiety will yield to the great, the solemn realities of eternity. Are you ready for the result? Are you in a state of pardon, of justification, of peace with God through Christ? How is it with your soul? Will it be well with you in death, well with you after death, well with you at the judgment-seat of Christ? Have you come to the Lord Jesus as a Savior—to His blood for cleansing, to His righteousness for acceptance, to His cross for shelter, to Himself for rest? Have you fled as a sinner to Jesus as the Savior?

Look these questions, I beseech you, fairly, fully in the face, and answer them in your own conscience, and as in view of that dread tribunal at whose bar you will soon be cited. What if you should prosper in temporals, and be lean in spirituals! What if you should pamper the body, and starve the soul! What if you should gain the world—its riches, its honors, its pleasures—and be yourself through eternity a castaway! To die in your sins, to die without union to Christ, to die unreconciled to God, tremendous will be the consequences; so dire will be your condition, so fearful and interminable your sufferings from the wrath of a holy and righteous God, it would have been good for you never to have been born. The unrighteous will be “punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.”

But there is hope! Does this page meet the eye of a penitent mourner—one whose heart is smitten with godly grief for sin? Be it known you, that the sacrifice of a broken heart and of a contrite spirit God will not despise. Despise it! oh, no! It is the precious, holy fruit of His Spirit in your soul, and in His eye it is too holy, too costly, too dear to be despised. Bring to Him that broken heart, and Jesus will bind it up, heal and fill it with joy, and peace, and hope. It was His mission to receive and save sinners—it is His office to receive and save sinners—it is His delight and glory to receive and save sinners; and if you will but approach Him, exactly as you are, He will receive and save you.

Study The Mystery Of Christ’s Love To Sinners

Regard it as one of your chief mercies that your salvation depends not upon reason but upon faith: that you are not called upon fully to comprehend, but unquestioningly to believe and love: that you are not the less saved because your faith deals with obscurity, nor is your faith less real, precious, or saving, because it abjures the wisdom of the sage for the docile spirit of the child, and the learning of the philosopher for the humility of the disciple. Let your great study be the mystery of Christ’s love to sinners–the mystery of Christ’s love to you.

The apostle was content to leave all mysteries to the day of perfect knowledge, might he but attain unto love. “Though I know all mysteries, and have not love, I am nothing.” Study that grand truth, “God is love,” as embodied in the cross of Christ, and you can well afford to refer all that is obscure and hard to understand in revealed truth to the day when we shall know all, as we also are known. Cease to dispute, cavil, and speculate on the subject of religion and revealed truth, and receive the gospel and enter into the kingdom of Christ as a little child.

In the momentous matter of your future destiny, you have but to deal with two specific and distinct facts–your sinnership, and Christ’s Saviorship. What if you solve all the problems of science, and fathom all the deeps of learning, and unravel all the mysteries of truth, and yet are lost! What will your speculations, and researches, and discoveries avail, if at last they be found ineffectual to distill one drop of the water of life upon the tongue, now caviling and profane, then fevered and tormented in the quenchless flame? Are you not, by your present persistent course of unbelief, pride, and rejection of truth, in danger of finding yourself there?

Oh, it is of infinite moment to you that you come as sinful to the blood, as condemned to the righteousness, as ignorant and unlearned to the feet of Christ. The great problem you have to work out is, your own salvation. The grand mystery you have to unravel is, the mystery of your union with Jesus. The momentous questions you have to decide are, the place, the society, and the employments of your endless future! Where, with whom, and how, you will spend your long eternity? Compared with these grave considerations, all your doctrinal hair-splitting and your religious speculations, your vain disputes and your dreamy hopes, are as the follies of drivelling idiocy, or the aberrations of a mind insane.

Help Heavenward

October 13: Walk Not In Darkness

“Then Jesus spoke again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

Are you, my reader, a searcher of this life? Are you breathing for it, panting after it, seeking it? Then be it known to you, that He who inspired that desire is Himself the life for which you seek. That heaving of your heart, that yearning of your spirit, that “feeling after God, if haply you may find Him,” is the first gentle pulsation of a life that shall never die. Feeble and fluctuating, faint and fluttering, as its throbbings may be, it is yet the life of God, the life of Christ, the life of glory in your soul. It is the seedling, the germ of immortal flower; it is the sunshine dawn of an eternal day.

The announcement with which we meet your case—and it is the only one that can meet it—is, “THIS MAN RECEIVES SINNERS.” Oh joyful tidings! Oh blessed words! Yes, he receives sinners—the vilest—the meanest—the most despised! It was for this He relinquished the abodes of heavenly purity and bliss, to mingle amid the sinful and humiliating scenes of earth. For this He quitted His Father’s bosom for a cross. For this He lived and labored, suffered and died. “He receives sinners!” He receives them of every name and condition—of every stature and character and climate. There is no limit to His ability to pardon, as there is none to the sufficiency of His atonement, or to the melting pity of His heart.

Flee, then, to Jesus the crucified. To Him repair with your sins, as scarlet and as crimson, and His blood will wash you whiter than snow. What though they may be as clouds for darkness, or as the sand on the sea-shore for multitude; His grace can take them all away. Come with the accusations and tortures of a guilty conscience, come with the sorrow and relentings of a broken heart, come with the grief of the backslider, and with the confession of the prodigal; Jesus still meets you with the hope-inspiring words—”Him that comes unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” Then, “return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon you; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon!”

July 29: Leaning Upon The Beloved

“Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” Solomon’s Song 8:5

Was ever a poor pilgrim more honored? Was ever a lonely traveler in better company? How can you be solitary or sorrowful, be in peril, or suffer need, while you are journeying homewards in company with and leaning upon Jesus? But for what are you to lean upon your Beloved? You are to lean upon Jesus for your entire salvation.

He is “made of God unto you wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;” and for each one of these inestimable blessings you are to depend daily upon Christ. Where can you lean for pardon, but upon the atoning blood of Jesus? Where can you lean for acceptance, but upon the justifying righteousness of Jesus? And where can you lean for sanctification, but upon the sin-subduing grace of Jesus? This leaning upon the Beloved, then, is a daily coming up out of ourselves in the great matter of our salvation, and resting in the finished work of Christ–no more, in Christ Himself.

You are to lean upon the fullness of your Beloved. He is full to a sufficiency for all the needs of His people. There cannot possibly occur a circumstance in your history, there cannot arise a necessity in your case, in which you may not repair to the infinite fullness which the Father has laid up in Christ for His Church in the wilderness. Why, then, seek in your poverty what can only be found in Christ’s riches? why look to your emptiness when you may repair to His fullness?

“My grace is sufficient for you” is the cheering declaration with which Jesus meets every turn in your path, every crook in your lot, every need in your journey. Distrust then your own wisdom, look from your own self, and lean your entire weight upon the infinite fullness that is in Christ.

The posture is expressive of conscious weakness and deep self-distrust. Who is more feeble than a child of God? Taught the lesson of his weakness in the region of his own heart, and still learning it in his stumblings, falls, and mistakes, many and painful, in his self-inflicted wounds and dislocations, he is at length brought to feel that all his strength is outside of himself. He has the “sentence of death in himself, that he should not trust in himself.” “I am weak, yes, weakness itself,” is his language; “I am as a reed shaken of the wind; I stumble at a feather; I tremble at an echo; I recoil at my own shadow; the smallest difficulty impedes me; the least temptation overcomes me.

How shall I ever fight my way through this mighty host, and reach in safety the world of bliss?” By leaning daily, hourly, moment by moment, upon your Beloved for strength. Christ is the power of God, and He is the power of the children of God. Who can strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees, but Jesus? In those who have no might He increases strength. When they are weak in themselves, then are they strong in Him.

His declaration is–”My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Lean, then, upon Jesus for strength. He has strength for all your weakness; He can strengthen your faith, and strengthen your hope, and strengthen your courage, and strengthen your patience, and strengthen your heart, for every burden, for every trial, and for every temptation. Lean upon Him; He loves to feel the pressure of your arm; He loves you to link your feebleness to His almightiness, to avail yourself of His grace.

Thus leaning off yourself upon Christ, “as your day, so shall your strength be.” In all your tremblings and sinkings, you will feel the encircling of His power. “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

July 19: In Jesus

“We are in him who is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 5:20

“I in them.” Thus it is a mutual indwelling–Christ in us, and we in Christ. Here is our security. The believer is in Christ as Jacob was in the garment of the elder brother when Isaac kissed him, and he “smelled the smell of the clothing, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed.”

He is in Christ as the poor homicide was within the city of refuge, when pursued by the avenger of blood, but who could not overtake and slay. He is in Christ as Noah was enclosed within the ark, with the heavens darkening above him, and the waters heaving beneath him, yet with not a drop of the flood penetrating his vessel, nor a blast of the storm disturbing the serenity of his spirit.

How expressive are these Scriptural emblems of the perfect security of a believer in Christ! He is clothed with the garment of the Elder Brother, the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, “which is unto all and upon all those who believe.” On that garment the Father’s hands are placed; in that robe the person of the believer is accepted; it is to God “as the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed:” the blessing of the heavenly birthright is his–and for him there is no condemnation.

Pursued by the avenger of blood, the threatenings of a condemning law, he has reached the city of refuge, the Lord Jesus Christ. Fearful and trembling, yet believing and hoping, he has crossed the sacred threshold, and in an instant he is safe–and for him there is no condemnation. Fleeing from the gathering storm–”the wrath which is to come”–he has availed himself of the open door of the sacred ark–the crucified Savior–has entered, God shutting him in–and for him there is no condemnation.

Yes, Christ Jesus is our sanctuary, beneath whose shadow we are safe. Christ Jesus is our strong tower, within whose embattlements no avenger can threaten. Christ Jesus is our hiding-place from the wind, and covert from the tempest; and not one drop of “the wrath to come” can fall upon the soul that is in Him.

Oh, how completely accepted, and how perfectly secure, the sinner who is in Christ Jesus! He feels he is saved on the basis of a law whose honor is vindicated; through the clemency of a righteous Sovereign, whose holiness is secured; and through the mercy of a gracious God, the glory of whose moral government is eternally and illustriously exhibited. And now is his head lifted up above his enemies round about him; for there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Reader, are you in Christ Jesus? Is this your condition?