J. N. Darby.
This edition reproduced by permission, and modified from sedin.org
1 — Sin|
2 — Grace
3 — The word of God
4 — The Holy Spirit
5 — The Perfections of Christ
6 — Faith
7 — Peace
8 — Guidance
9 — Humility
10 — Trial
11 — Communion
12 — Conflict
13 — Devotedness
14 — Unbelieving fears.
15 — Separation from the world
16 — Joy
17 — Dependence
18 — Cross-bearing
19 — Looking unto Jesus
20 — Growth
21 — The presence of God
22 — Service
23 — Divine affections (1)
24 — Divine affections (2)
25 — Self-renunciation
26 — Songs of the night
27 — The Man of sorrows
28 — Love
29 — The all-sufficiency of Christ
30 — Divine energy
31 — Help from the sanctuary
32 — Rest
33 — The faithfulness of God
34 — Submission
35 — Satisfaction
36 — Nearness to God
37 — Backsliding and restoration
38 — The light of eternity
39 — Our needs and His fulness
40 — Power
41 — The divine heart
42 — Practical sanctification
43 — Praise
44 — Cheer for pilgrims
45 — The will of God
46 — Sympathy
47 — The courts above
48 — Christ is all
49 — Walking with God
50 — Confidence
51 — The heavenly light
52 — Our hope
Meditations for the Day of Rest
Selected from the Writings, Hymns, Letters, etc., of J. N. D.
"Those He calls His own — pilgrims in scenes where He has been."
Selected by H. G.
Published by G. Morrish, 20, Paternoster Square E.C. London.
Preface to the original edition.
The extracts of which this volume is composed are taken from a ministry of the rarest possible kind. The subject of them all is Christ—Christ in many aspects as suited to the needs of souls. Such a ministry could only be given by the Holy Spirit, even as the Lord Himself said, speaking of the Comforter, "He shall testify of me." One further word may be permitted. These detached sentences are really nuggets of gold, but they must be well examined and proved if their full value is to be discovered. Like all the author's writings, they form a mine of wealth, only it is he who digs the deepest who obtains most of its riches.
With this explanatory foreword this little book is earnestly commended to the blessing of God, with the prayer that the devout reader may become as redolent of Christ as the book itself is. E. Dennett.
We have before us fifty-two weekly meditations for the day of rest, that is to say, for the eve of the Lord's Day, corresponding to each of the fifty-two weeks of the year, and leading the reader to consider a theme at a time. May the Lord bless them and bring believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to a deeper appreciation of His Person, His work for us and in us, and of the Hope He has left us, till He come; may we also undertake, with a renewed desire, "to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
J. N. Darby published many works of Bible exposition, a number of poems and hymns, and wrote an impressive amount of letters with themes of the Christian faith. Regarding this, it is important to let him give his own thoughts about his own efforts to teach the Word of God, in his own words as penned in the Introduction to his Synopsis on the Books of the Bible:
"Though a commentary may doubtless aid the reader in many passages in which God has given to the commentator to understand in the main the intention of the Spirit of God, or to furnish philological principles and information, which facilitate to another the discovery of that intention; yet if it pretend to give the contents of scripture, or if he who uses it seeks these in its remarks, such commentary can only mislead and impoverish the soul. A commentary, even if always right, can at most give what the commentator has himself learned from the passage. The fullest and wisest must be very far indeed from the living fulness of the divine word. The Synopsis now presented has no pretension of the kind. Deeply convinced of the divine inspiration of the scriptures, given to us of God, and confirmed in this conviction by daily and growing discoveries of their fulness, depth, and perfectness; even more sensible, through grace, of the admirable perfection of the parts, and the wonderful connection of the whole, the writer only hopes to help the reader in the study of them. . . . "
And it is with this thought of directing the reader to the meditation of the Scriptures and thus to come closer to our Lord Jesus Christ that we publish this selection of thoughts, meditations, poems and letters of a believer who loved the Lord and who wanted to help his brethren in their common walk of following Christ. Santiago Escuain
"All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
Father! Thy sovereign love has sought
Captives to sin, gone far from Thee;
The work that Thine Own Son hath wrought,
Has brought us back — in peace and free!
A single sin is more horrible to God than a thousand sins — nay, than all the sins in the world — are to us.
It is the action of an independent will which is the principle of sin.
God can let nothing pass; He can forgive all and cleanse from all, but let nothing pass.
Christ is love; the greater sinner I am, the more need I have of Him.
If all the sins that ever were committed in the world were congregated in your persons and were your own act, this need not prevent your believing in Christ and coming unto God through Him.
Look at the state man is really in as regards the trust he puts in man rather than God. If his neighbour should ask him to do anything, though his conscience may tell him God hates what his neighbour wants him to do, still, rather than disoblige his companion, he will sin against God.
Sinning and religiousness go on together. . . . Where the power of godliness is not, nearness to godly things is only the more dangerous.
If our hearts . . . feel not sin, Christ felt it when He drank the cup and bore sin for us. If the heart does not feel the gravity of sin, not to the same point as Jesus knew it, but at least in some degree — if, feeble as it may be, the feeling of sin is a stranger to us — we have not at all entered into the mind of Jesus.
Adam sinned and left God, because he thought more of what Satan offered him; he thought the devil a better friend to him than God: but he has since found out to his cost that the devil was a liar; that he never had the power of giving him what he promised, and that by catching at the devil's bait; he has received his hook, and that "the wages of sin is death."
On the cross hung the one spotless, blessed Man, yet forsaken of God. What a fact before the world! No wonder the sun was darkened — the central and splendid witness to God's glory in nature, when the Faithful and True Witness cried to His God and was not heard. Forsaken of God! What does this mean? What part have I in the cross? One single part — my sins. . . . It baffles thought, that most solemn lonely hour which stands aloof from all before or after.
Christ . . . died rather than allow sin to subsist before God.
Directly grace acts in the heart, it gives the consciousness of sin; but, at the same time, the love of Christ reaches the conscience, deepening the consciousness of sin; but if this is deep, it is because the consciousness of the love of Christ is also deep.
"The God of all grace."
1 Peter 5:10.
There is rest in the calming grace
That flows from those realms above
What rest in the thought I we shall see His face,
Who has given us to know His love!
Oh! when will the heart of man, even in thought, rise to the height of God's grace and patience?
It is the love that is in God, not any loveliness in the sinner, that accounts for the extravagant liberality of his reception in Christ.
What the natural man understands by mercy is not . . . God's blotting out sin by the bloodshedding of Jesus, but His passing by sin with indifference. This is not grace.
There is no giving in the "far country," not even of husks. Satan sells all, and dearly — our souls are the price. You must buy everything. The world's principle is "nothing for nothing."
Would you find a giver? You must come to God.
Grace has no limits, no bounds. Be we what we may (and we cannot be worse than we are), in spite of that, God towards us is Love.
His grace . . . is ever more astonishing . . . and it so connects itself with every fibre and want, too, of our hearts in Christ's becoming man, that it brings us into a place which none can know who are not in it. And yet one is nothing in it, though united to Him who is everything — and to be nothing is to be in a blessed place.
The law may torture the conscience, but grace humbles.
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." We see just two things in this — that the sinner is without strength, without riches. Like the poor prodigal, he has spent all he had, and now he comes to himself, and is about to return, he has nothing to bring with him. Like a shipwrecked mariner, all is thrown overboard, everything going adrift, and he himself struggling with the dark billows is just cast ashore, wearied and poor, having nothing! But blessed be God, if we have got to shore, God is there, and He is for us . . . and we know we shall not be cast out again, and that we may lay claim now to all things that God can give. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
The way I come at the sense of the immensity of sin is by the immensity of the grace that has met it.
"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of grace in his kindness toward us by Christ Jesus."
This is the way the angels will learn, and principalities and powers in the heavenly places, the meaning of "the exceeding riches of his grace." They will see the poor thief, and the woman of the city that was a sinner; ourselves, too, in the same place and glory as God's Son!
In the desert God will teach thee
What the God that thou hast found;
Patient, gracious, powerful, holy,
All His grace shall there abound!
The word, "Well done, good and faithful servant," sounds sweet in the ears, and most so in his who knows that by His grace alone can we be one or the other.
The Word of God
"The word of God endureth for ever."
1 Peter 1:25
Where'er we ope the pages,
In which — Thy wondrous word!
Man's path through varied ages
Is given us to record —
Of failure, ruin, sorrow,
The story still we find;
God's love but brings the morrow
Of evil in mankind.
In these days when the word of God is so called in question, it is blessed to think how a single verse of scripture was sufficient for Christ for authority, and sufficient for the devil, who had not a word to say.
I do not care for novel interpretations of scripture, cream lies on the surface.
But, oh, how is the word its own proof, and how has it its own power, though surely nothing but the Spirit of God can give it that power in us. But in walking with God alone can we draw out its sweetness and feed upon it. I believe that the Spirit of God is a positive teacher in this respect, and may give, if He sees good, developed thoughts of its contents, but if rivers are to flow out we must drink for ourselves as thirsty for it.
Let us now stop and ask ourselves, What has my mind been occupied with to-day? What has it been running after? Could you say, "The word of Christ has dwelt in me richly"? Now, perhaps, we have been occupied with politics, perhaps with the town talk, or with something of our own, Has the word of our own heart, the work of our own mind, filled up the greater part of our day? That is not Christ.
There is nothing more dangerous than the handling of the word apart from the Spirit . . . I know of nothing that more separates from God than truth spoken out of communion with God; there is uncommon danger in it.
God reveals not His things "to the wise and prudent," but unto "babes." It is not the strength of man's mind judging about "the things of God" that gets the blessing from Him; it is the spirit of the babe desiring "the sincere milk of the word." . . . The strongest mind must come to the word of God as the new-born babe.
There is not a single word in the book of God which cannot feed our souls.
Study the Bible . . . with prayer. Seek the Lord there, and not knowledge — that will come too; but the heart is well directed in seeking the Lord.
I think . . . you have studied too much, and read the Bible too little. I always find that I have to be on my guard on this point. It is the teaching of God, and not the labour of man, that makes us enter into the thoughts and the purposes of God in the Bible . . . I do not think that any one will believe that I do not wish it should be much read, but I do wish it should be read with God.
There is one Man who knows the truth, because He is the truth, who is satisfied with the written word, and that is the Lord. There is no craft of Satan that the word of God is not sufficient to meet.
When this fleeting life shall be over that only shall abide which has been produced by the word.
The Holy Spirit
But God, in love, has freely given
His Spirit, who reveals
All He's prepared for those, in heaven,
Whom here on earth He seals.
Let me ask you how you treat this divine Guest. I am now speaking reverently of God's presence. How often do you think of it in the day, that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost? If the queen were to come, and for a time take up her abode with any of us, we should think of nothing else. . . . But what of the Holy Ghost who dwells in us? We think not of it half the day, we think of it if we do all things so as to please the Lord.
The effectual presence of the Spirit crucifies egotism, and gives freedom of thought about ourselves while on the way; it occupies us with one object — Jesus.
Where the life of the flesh ends, the life of the Spirit begins, and practically we have power in the life of the Spirit in proportion as the flesh is dead.
To have the Spirit is one thing; to be filled with the Holy Ghost is another. When He is the one source of my thought, I am filled with Him. When He has possession of my heart, there is power to silence what is not of God, to keep my soul from evil, and to guide in every act of my life and walk.
Sometime there may be need to rebuke . . . but the flesh cannot rebuke the flesh, nor will the flesh submit to it; but if you indeed walk in the Spirit, you will have God's authority according to your measure, and Satan will yield to the Spirit.
Habitual unprofitable speaking I think ought to be stopped. . . . I never could understand why the church of God is to be the only place where the flesh is to have its way unrestrained. It is folly to suppose this. I desire the fullest liberty for the Spirit, but not the least for the flesh.
The Spirit is overflowing like "rivers of living water" from the soul of him in whom He has entered, flowing on all around; it may be on the good soil, or on the barren sand, but still His nature and power is ever to flow forth.
We ought to be able to confound every enemy, not with man's wisdom, intellect and understanding, but in the power of the Spirit. Do others not believe in it (the word of God)? I am not going to give up the sword of the Spirit because you do not think it will cut. I know it will cut, and therefore use it.
When a man is not filled with the Spirit of God, who gives force to the truth in his heart and clearness to his moral vision, the seductive power of the enemy dazzles his imagination. He loves the marvellous, unbelieving as he may be with regard to the truth. He lacks holy discernment, because he is ignorant of the holiness and character of God, and has not the stability of a soul that possesses the knowledge of God . . . as his treasure — of a soul which knows that it has all in Him and needs no other marvels.
The Perfections of Christ
"He is altogether lovely."
Song of Sol. 5:16
Yet sure, if in Thy presence
My soul still constant were,
Mine eye would more familiar
Its brighter glories bear:
And thus Thy deep perfections
Much better should I know,
And with adoring fervour
In this Thy nature grow.
The Lord Jesus . . . is the summing up of all possible beauty and perfection in Himself.
What was then the life of this Jesus, the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief? A life of activity in obscurity, causing the love of God to penetrate the most hidden corners of society, wherever needs were greatest . . . this life did not shelter itself from the misery of the world . . . but it brought into it — precious grace! — the love of God.
As Adam's first act . . . was to seek his own will . . . Christ was in this world of misery, devoting Himself in love, devoting Himself to do His Father's will. He came here emptying Himself. He came here by an act of devotedness to His Father, at all cost to Himself, that God might be glorified.
The only act of disobedience which Adam could commit he did commit; but He, who could have done all things as to power, only used His power to display more perfect service, more perfect subjection. How blessed is the picture of the Lord's ways!
The more faithful He was, the more despised and opposed; the more meek, the less esteemed: but all this altered nothing, because He did all to God alone: with the multitude, with His disciples, or before His unjust judges, nothing altered the perfectness of His ways, because in all circumstances all was done to God.
The Man Christ Jesus grew in favour with God and man. He was always the servant of everyone. The first thing that struck me some years ago in reading the gospels was, Here is a man that never did anything for Himself. What a miracle to see a man not living to himself, for He had got God for Himself.
The gospels display the One in whom was no selfishness. They tell out the heart that was ready for everybody. No matter how deep His own sorrow, He always cared for others. He could warn Peter in Gethsemane, and comfort the dying thief on the cross. His heart was above circumstances, never acting under them, but ever according to God in them.
Self-pleasing, self-exalting, self-advancing are ever the principles of men's actions . . . In the blessed Lord . . . there was true devotedness of heart and affection, and service, without the smallest particle of self-seeking. . . . The very thing man so much covets, there was the perfect absence of in Him. "I receive not honour from man."
We find admirable affections in the apostles . . . we find works, as Jesus said, greater than His own; we find exercises of heart and astonishing heights by grace . . . but we do not find the evenness that was in Christ. He was the Son of man who was in heaven. Such as Paul are chords on which God strikes, and on which He produces a wondrous music; but Christ is all the music itself.
May God grant unto us to value the perfect beauty of that Jesus who came to us.
"The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God."
Then would'st Thou that I should rejoice,
And walk by faith below —
Enough, that I had heard Thy Voice,
And learnt Thy love's deep woe.
Faith makes me see that God is greater than my sin, and not that my sin is greater than God.
Connect your service with nothing but God, not with any particular persons. You may be comforted by fellowship, and your heart refreshed; but you must work by your own individual faith and energy, without leaning on any one whatever; for if you do, you cannot be a faithful servant. Service must ever be measured by faith, and one's own communion with God. . . . In every age the blessing has been by individual agency, and the moment it has ceased to be this it has declined into the world.
The tendency of association is to make us lean upon one another.
The simplicity of a life of faith has charms that they do not know who never tried it.
One does not get rid of the difficulties of the path of faith by trying to avoid them, one must surmount them by the power of God.
A difficulty may be a real one, but it is only for the unbelief of hearts that it is an obstacle, if on the path of God's will; for faith reckons upon God . . . and difficulties are as nothing before Him.
Experience ought to strengthen faith; but there must be a present faith to use experience.
It is by faith that God is honoured.
It is enough for Satan if he succeeds in frightening us away from the pure and simple path of faith.
Faith acts on God's behalf, and reveals Him in the midst of circumstances, instead of being governed by them. Its superiority over that which surrounds it is evident. What repose to witness this amid the mire of this poor world.
It is characteristic of faith to reckon on God, not simply spite of difficulty, but spite of impossibility.
I have not seen the Lord leave those who have given themselves up to work, trusting Him; and I have seen distress of spirit and greatly hindered usefulness in those who, through their wives or own hearts, have turned to other things to help wife or family here.
Faith tested is faith strengthened; it is to have learnt your weakness, but to have learnt the faithfulness of God, His tender care even in sending the difficulties, that we may be there with Him.
My resources are somewhat diminished . . . but it is all right: everything is right for faith. . . . "In everything give thanks," and if all come from God it must be right.
There is One above . . . all able to bring about His thoughts, and he who has faith will find the sureness of His hand if He be really waited on.
We are quick at seizing the reins when we see danger ahead; but the Lord knows better than we do what has to be done: in due season He will deliver all who look to Him.
"Peace . . . which passeth all understanding."
And stayed by joy divine,
As hireling fills his day,
Through scenes of strife,
And desert life,
I tread in peace my way.
It is a serious thing, whatever be the goodness of God, to find peace with a God of holiness. Christ has made peace; but He would have us feel what it is to have need of it, in order that we may know it.
You look to getting the victory in order to get peace; we must get peace to get the victory — peace already made by Christ's work — then you will get strength. We do not find it till we see we have none.
The gospel of peace is ours in Christ; but I must have the spirit of peace in my heart. Peace has been made for us that we may dwell in peace.
It is Christ's work which gives peace to the conscience; but it is subdued will, having none of our own, which in great and in little things makes us peaceful in heart in going through a world of . . . trial.
In all things . . . instead of disquieting ourselves . . . we ought to present our request to God with prayer, with supplication . . . so that, even while making our petition to Him, we can already give thanks, because we are sure of the answer of His grace, be it what it may. . . . It does not say, you will have what you ask; but God's peace will keep your hearts. . . . Oh, what grace! that even our anxieties are a means of our being filled with this marvellous peace.
One great evidence of my abiding in Christ is quietness. I have my portion elsewhere, and I go on. . . . No matter what it may be, we bring quietness of spirit into all circumstances whilst dwelling in God. The soul is not only happy in God for itself, but it will bring the tone of that place out with it.
Does all trouble find your heart so resting on God as your Father, that when it is multiplied, it leaves your spirit at rest, your sleep sweet, lying down sleeping, and rising as if all was peace around you, because you know God is, and disposes of all things? Is He thus between you and your troubles and troublers? And if He is, what can reach you?
The soul in communion with God will live in the spirit of peace. There is nothing more important, to meet the turmoil of the word, than getting into this spirit of peace.
Nothing keeps the soul in such peace as a settled confidence in God. Without this a man will be continually excited, in haste, and full of anxiety. If the peace of God keep your hearts, you will have the triumph of it; nothing can be heard that is distinctive from it and that does not perfectly harmonise with it.
The love and grace of God which set us in close connection with heaven fill our hearts, and we know how to carry to distracted souls that calm and peace which nothing in this world can destroy.
A little leisure enables us often to see all things quietly with Christ's eye.
"I will guide thee with mine eye."
Rise my soul! Thy God directs thee;
Stranger hands no more impede:
Pass thou on, His hands protect thee —
Strength that has the captive freed.
Light divine surrounds thy going;
God Himself shall mark thy way:
Secret blessings, richly flowing,
Lead to everlasting day.
The steps of a good man are ordered by Jehovah. This is a vast and precious blessing. . . . A young Christian may, in confiding zeal, not see so much the value of this . . . but when one has seen the world, what a pathless wilderness it is; it is beyond all price that the Lord directs our steps.
If we look to Him all is simple; we see our way clearly, and we have motives that do not leave the soul a prey to uncertainty. It is the double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways.
It is an amazing comfort for my soul to think that there is not a single thing all through my life in which God as my Father has not a positive will about to direct me . . . that I do not take a step but what His love has provided for.
The Lord guide you . . . it is ever good to wait on Him, and not be in a hurry, or let our own will work. "I waited patiently for the Lord" is a word of Christ's Himself, and He cares for us and directs in everything.
I have no doubt that if we kept close to Christ, His Spirit would guide us in our intercourse with others. We are not always conscious of divine guidance even when it is there; but the word comes from Christ to the souls we have to say to, even if rejected. . . . But our part is to keep close to Christ, so that it should be "not I, but Christ liveth in me," and thus He acts in our thoughts and ways without our, at the moment, thinking of Him directly; but we always have the consciousness of speaking for Him, and of His presence.
The Spirit and the word cannot be separated without falling into fanaticism on the one hand, or into rationalism on the other — without putting oneself outside the place of dependence upon God and of His guidance.
The sheep know the voice of Christ, and if they have not got His voice they stop until they have. There is one voice they know. There are plenty of other voices, but they do not know them. Sheep are silly, stupid creatures; but they know the shepherd's voice — that one voice. The moment Christ's voice has reached me, it is enough; and this gives a peace and quietness in one's path that nothing else does. It is not great wisdom or great strength that gives this, but it is hearing the Shepherd's voice and knowing it. If not the shepherd's voice, it is dreaded. "A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him." The Shepherd does not frighten. He gives strength and confidence; and His voice having once reached the heart, nothing else is needed.
And, Saviour! 'tis Thee from on high
I await, till the time Thou shalt come
To take him Thou hast led by Thine eye
To Thyself, in Thy heavenly home.
"Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart."
O lowliness, how feebly known,
That meets the grace that gave the Son!
That waits, to serve Him as His own,
Till grace what grace began shall crown!
Pride is the greatest of all evils that beset us, and of all our enemies it is that which dies the slowest and hardest.
God hates pride above all things, because it gives to man the place that belongs to Him who is above, exalted over all. Pride intercepts communion with God, and draws down His chastisement, for "God resists the proud."
"Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well." The valley of Baca is a place of sorrow and humiliation, but one of blessing also. . . . With some of us this valley may be the loss of that nearest our hearts, or the thwarting of the will — something that will humble us; but it is a place of blessing. We get more refreshing from the painful than the pleasant things. . . . The refreshment and the blessing come from that which has pained us, humbled us, emptied us of self.
He who is lowest and lowliest will be most blessed.
Often the soul, by seeking joy, cannot get it; this would not purify and bless it and to bless God must purify. When emptied of self and seeking God we find joy.
Shall I ever forget the humiliation of Christ? . . . Never! never! through all eternity. I shall never forget His humiliation on earth. While seeing Him in glory animates the soul to run after Him, what feeds the soul is the bread come down. That produces a spirit that thinks of everything but itself. . . . Go and study Him, and live by Him, and you will come out in His likeness, in all His grace and gentleness and loveliness. . . . The Lord give us to be so occupied with Him who was so full of love . . . so full of lowliness, that we shall manifest the same.
True humility does not so much consist in thinking badly of ourselves as in not thinking of ourselves at all. I am too bad to be worth thinking about. What I want is, to forget myself and to look to God, who is worth all my thoughts.
The only real humbleness and strength and blessing is to forget self in the presence and blessedness of God.
May you be in yourself so broken down that you may find One who never breaks down.
We do not know how to be weak, that is our weakness.
The humble spirit does not think so much — it receives God's thoughts.
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." What was the mind that was in Jesus? It was always coming down. . . . The more He humbled Himself, the more He was trampled on. . . . He goes down . . . till He can go no lower, down to the dust of death. . . . Are you content to do this? Are you content to have the mind that was in Christ Jesus, content to be always trampled on?
The Lord be with you, and keep you near Himself, humble and serving, but having more of Him than you spend in service.
"Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth."
There is rest in the midst of grief,
For grief's been the proof of love;
'Tis sweet in that love to find relief,
When the sorrows of earth we prove.
Christ never makes a breach except to come in and connect the soul and heart more with Himself; and it is worth all the sorrow that ever was, and more, to learn the least atom more of His love and of Himself, and there is nothing like that, nothing like Him: and it lasts.
Everybody is not passing smoothly through this life, though some may be more so than others. . . . But, after all, it is only "for a season" and if "need be." Do not make yourself uneasy: the one who holds the reins of the need-be is God. He does not take pleasure in afflicting. If there is the need for it we go through the trial, but it is only for a moment.
We find the greatest difficulty often in bringing our sorrow to God. How can I do so, the soul of some may be saying, as my sorrow is the fruit of my sin? . . . Can I, in the integrity of my heart towards God, take my sorrows to Him, knowing I deserve them? Yes; Christ has been to God about them. This, then, is the ground upon which I can go . . . God can afford to meet me in all my sorrow, because Christ's work has been so perfectly done. In the main all sorrow is from sin, and all help is grounded upon the atonement.
There is no position a saint can be in but that he may go to God for help.
I have been very happy during my illness; it has made me feel much more than ever that heaven and the bosom of God is my home, seeing that I shall be with Him for ever.
Pride and stoical resistance to sorrow will not do. That does not draw the soul to God, but effectually . . . keeps it from Him. . . . Sorrow, when it is complete and helpless, gives intimacy with Him who is willing and able to help, and this is now with God.
If we . . . carried all our . . . troubles to God, to go fully through all with Him, our hearts would be all free and happy to turn round and care for others.
When the believing soul is under trial the recurrence to God as its source and hope is the natural movement of faith. . . . Nor is there a sweeter time for the soul that trusts Him than the time of trial.
When we look back to a past life we have more to be thankful for our trials than for anything else.
He comes down into all our circumstances, and for a poor trifle of affliction I get to find (not the thing set aside, but) God Himself taking the place of our sorrow.
The time will come when all our sorrow will be over, but our Friend will remain. He is our tried and true Friend. He has entered into the deepest woes of our heart, and will make us the sharers of His joy for ever.
"I sat down under his shadow with great delight."
Song of Sol. 2:3
We wait to see Thee, Lord,
Yet now within our hearts
Thou dwell'st in love that doth afford
The joy that love imparts.
Moses "sees Him who is invisible." This makes him decided. When we realise the presence of God Pharaoh is nothing. . . . Where there is lack of communion there is weakness and indecision.
There is no strength but in Christ. I have none at any time except as my soul is in secret communion with Him. . . . Now the direct power of Satan is towards this point, to keep our souls from living on Christ.
One great thing we have to seek is that communion with Christ be as strong as all the doctrines we hold or teach. Without that the doctrine itself will have no force: besides, we ourselves shall not be with God in it, and, after all, that is all.
God may make men as active as possible, like Paul or Boanerges, when He wants them; but communion is the most precious thing to Him. There is a difference between Peter and John. His heart rested with satisfaction on him who leaned on His bosom.
There should be a going of the soul to God in a far more intimate way than to any one else. Communion with saints is precious, but I must have intimacy of communion with God above all; and communion of saints will flow from communion with God.
Joy in God is communion . . . presenting a want to God is not communion. "God talked with Abraham," "his friend" — that is communion.
Communion with God is the retiring place of the heart.
If living in communion with God we are not thinking of ourselves. Moses did not know his face shone when every one else did. He had been looking up out of himself and turned towards the earth, bearing upon him the light of heaven.
None can be so intimately near us as God, for He is in us. Yet what an intimacy it is!
The cross and the crown go together; and, more than this, the cross and communion go together. The cross touches my natural will, and therefore it breaks down and takes away that which hinders communion.
If I am not in communion it is for the Holy Spirit to speak to my conscience, instead of using me.
May our work be a work of faith, drawing its strength, its existence even, from our communion with God our Father.
In speaking of God's truth, whenever we cannot "speak as the oracles of God," through communion, it is our business to be silent.
I may study the word again and again, but unless I get into communion with Him by it, it will profit me nothing — at least at the time.
What is the joy of a Redeemer but the joy and communion, the happiness of His redeemed?
"We are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
The strong man in his armour
Thou mettest in Thy grace,
Did'st spoil the mighty charmer
Of our unhappy race.
The chains of man, his victim,
Were loosened by Thy hand,
No evils that afflict him
Before Thy power could stand.
Many have not the courage to go on in God's warfare, because they hold on to something which is inconsistent with the light they have received. Perhaps, alas! they lose the light which they have not acted up to, and Satan is able to bring their mind under the darkness of his good reasons for staying where they are without conquering more territory from him.
The armour should be put on before the battle, not just at the battle.
It is exceedingly serious to fight God's battle against Satan. . . . It is a most solemn thing that my business is to overcome Satan.
The greater the energy of the Spirit the more is the individual in whom it is manifested exposed to the fury of Satan.
We ought not merely not to be beaten by Satan, but ever to be gaining ground upon him.
A new place brings new temptations . . . but if temptations are new, grace is as new, as various, as infinite to meet them when we are where He would have us.
It was by the power of death that the Lord destroyed all his strength who had the power of death. Death is the best weapon in the arsenal of God, when it is wielded by the power of life.
There is nowhere that conflict is so much felt as in prayer: that is where Satan desires to come in.
If a Christian gets out of dependence on the Lord, he will be beaten by Satan in conflict.
Moses, Aaron and Hur go up to the top of the hill, and Israel under Joshua fights in the plain below with Amalek . . . Israel might have reasoned on the manner of their fighting, on the strength of the enemy, and on ten thousand things; but, after all, their success depended on Moses' hands being stretched out. It is very hard for us to see ourselves and Satan to be as nothing and God to be everything.
I daresay many of us have thought . . . that one good battle with Satan and all will be over; but no such thing, we have security and the certainty of victory, but no promise of cessation from conflict.
(Heb. 2:18.) He suffered — never yielded. We do not suffer when we yield to temptation; the flesh takes pleasure in the things by which it is tempted. Jesus suffered being tempted, and He is able to succour them that are tempted. It is important to observe that the flesh, when acted upon by its desires, does not suffer — being tempted, it, alas! enjoys. But when, according to the light of the Holy Ghost and the fidelity of obedience, the Spirit resists the attacks of the enemy, whether subtle or persecuting, then one suffers. This is what the Lord did, and this we have to do.
My happiness, O Lord, with Thee
Is long laid up in store
For that bless'd day when Thee I'd see,
And conflict all be o'er.
"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus."
'Tis the treasure I've found in His love
That has made me a pilgrim below;
And 'tis there, when I reach Him above
As I'm known, all His fulness I'll know.
Absolute consecration to Jesus is the strongest bond between human hearts. It strips them of self, and they have but one soul in thought, intent and settled purpose, because they have but one object.
Can we honestly say, with glory before us, with Christ before us: "This one thing I do"? Which way does your eye turn? Which way are you going? God has only one way — Christ.
Paul saw Christ on the way to Damascus, and he gives up his importance, his Pharisaism, his teaching, his everything else, and he counts all but loss that he may win Christ. . . . People talk of sacrifices; but there is no great sacrifice in giving up dung. If the eye were so fixed on Christ that these things got that character it would not be a trouble to give them up. The thing gets its character from what the heart is set on.
I hope that God will keep you from every bond save the bonds of Christ, and that He will rivet these bonds of security and joy more and more.
In all true devotedness Christ is the first and governing object; next, "His own which are in the world"; and then our fellow-men — first their souls, then their bodies, and every want they are in.
The love of Christ constrains us in the cross to give ourselves wholly up to Him who has so loved us, given Himself wholly up for us. . . . It makes us of little esteem to ourselves in the presence of such love. We see we are not our own, but bought with a price.
The sense that we are not our own deepens the claim in our hearts, yet takes away all merit in the devotedness.
It is by looking to Jesus that we can give up anything.
Following Christ wholly the world or the human heart will never stand.
We have to live in natural ties as those who are not in them, to act from Christ in them.
You may be blessed to your husband . . . as strengthening and comforting and encouraging him . . . in the weariness and trials which accompany the service. But do not seek to relax his energy. A wife sometimes likes to have her husband for herself, and when her husband is the Lord's labourer it is a great evil. I have known a wife spoil a labourer . . . in this way. A husband is bound to care for his wife, consider her, and do anything but neglect her . . . but the wife of a labourer for the Lord must put his work and labour before herself. . . . A wise wife who seeks first the Lord herself, puts Him first for her husband, and does not love him the less; it is a bond, and her husband will honour and value her, and so will the Lord.
Oh, how surely we shall feel it that day, that all that was not a heart given to Him was loss and wretchedness.
"I will trust, and not be afraid."
The Lord is Himself gone before,
He has marked out the path that I tread;
It's as sure as the love I adore,
I have nothing to fear nor to dread.
You must not attach too much importance to your joy . . . nor to your distress. . . . You can add nothing by joy or sorrow to the perfect work of Christ. . . . If some one has paid my debts, my sorrow at the folly that contracted them or my joy at their being discharged adds noting whatever to the payment of the debt, though both be natural and just.
Abraham found in the mountain a place where he could intercede with God, while Lot was saying, "I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me and I die." Unbelief always looks at the place of faith as the most awful thing possible — all darkness.
He is not ashamed to call you brethren; and will you be ashamed to confess Him as your Lord and Master in the face of all the world? Be not debating within yourselves when you shall avow yourselves; do it at once, decidedly. Make the plunge, and trust God for the consequence. I know it by experience that an open, bold confession of being Christ's is more than half the struggle over. . . . I say, as one who knows, that if a man, in the strength of the Lord, is just brought to say to his companions and friends, I am Christ's, and I must act for Him — that he will not suffer what others must feel who are creeping on fearful and afraid to avow Him whom they desire to serve.
I know no word more settling to the soul than "Be careful for nothing." How often have I found it so . . . "for nothing."
How little we gain by the prudence of unbelief; it gives occasion to the power and attacks of the enemy.
Never can unbelief — however good its intentions in joining the work of faith — do anything except spoil it.
How far the child of God may go astray when he puts himself under the protection of unbelievers, instead of relying on the help of God in all the difficulties which beset the path of faith!
Satan gets entrance for his full power in the soul the moment there is a shade of distrust in God.
When unbelief is in action it only produces troubles and sorrows.
When there remains in the heart any groan which is not uttered to God as to a God of grace, any distrust of Him, it is the flesh and work of the enemy. . . . We may be cast down at times (although scarcely ever without some want of faith) and yet everything goes on well if we bring it all to God.
Anxiety which anticipates evil is not the faith which faces the difficulties through which God sees well to make us pass.
When the soul is distressed or cast down, that is not sin in itself. But sin comes in when there is distrust of God.
I am not afraid while He lives and is Jesus.
Separation from the World
"For whom I have suffered the loss of all things."
Art thou wean'd from Egypt's pleasures?
God in secret thee shall keep;
There unfold His hidden treasures,
There His love's exhaustless deep.
Every mark of the world is a reproach to him who is heavenly.
It is only the heavenly man who has died with Christ that disentangles himself from all that is of Egypt . . . the principle of worldliness is uprooted in him who is dead and risen with Christ and living a heavenly life.
Alliance with the world prevents our overcoming the world.
Called to glory, faith of necessity quits Egypt; God has not placed the glory there. To be well off in the world is not to be well off in heaven.
I dread the saints getting tired of unworldliness.
It is with a rejected Saviour we have to walk. The whole system of the world is a stumbling-block to turn the heart from God — dress, vain show, flattery . . . All that puts us into the rich man's place is a stumbling-block. Heaven is open to a rejected Christ. Remember this.
Samson . . . was one separated to God, sanctified for Jehovah . . . his hair was not to be cut. While the commandment and precept were observed, his strength was with him. There might have seemed little connection between long or uncut hair and all-overcoming strength; but God was in it: and an obeyed, honoured God, is a God of strength to us.
God's design is to link us with heaven. You must have heaven without the world, or the world without heaven. He who prepares the city cannot wish for us anything between the two.
I remember saying . . . that our giving up the world and the world giving up us were two very different things. It is the latter which tries all the elements of self-importance, which lie much deeper than we are aware.
Where activity is distinctly wanting is in bringing up Christ to souls and devotedness to Him, unworldliness, a life where we do one thing, a home, dress, manners, which say that Christ is all.
(2 Cor. 6:17-18.) We come out from among the worldly . . . in order to enter into the relationship of sons and daughters to the Almighty God: otherwise we cannot possibly realise this relationship. God will not have worldlings in relation with Himself as sons and daughters; they have not entered into this position with regard to Him.
Wise was God indeed to choose not many mighty, not many noble, not many rich; they find it hard to submit their comforts and comeliness to God's. A rich body of Christians will become practically poor and simple or practically worldly.
A distracted heart is the bane of a Christian. When my heart is filled with Christ I have no heart or eye for the trash of the world. If Christ is dwelling in your heart by faith it will not be the question, What harm is there in this, or that? Rather, Am I doing this for Christ? Can Christ go along with me in this? If you are in communion with Him you will readily detect what is not of Him. Do not let the world come in and distract your thoughts.
1 Peter 1:8
Sing without ceasing, sing,
The Saviour's present grace,
How all things shine
In light divine,
For those who've seen His face.
The thing that hinders our rejoicing is not trouble, but being half and half. If in the world his conscience reproaches the Christian, if he meets spiritual Christians he is unhappy there; in fact, he is happy nowhere.
Ours ought not to be a religion of regrets, but a rejoicing of heart continually.
"Rejoice evermore: pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks." Closer connection between these three than our souls are wont to acknowledge. Joy will ever rise in proportion to prayer and thanksgiving.
Where His will is there is happiness. . . . Christ is my happiness . . . but it is in the path of His will that we find the enjoyment of His love. . . . Thus I find in Him a source of profound and ineffable joy . . . our treasure is Himself.
I have been unspeakably happy lately, yet as making me nothing in the thought of being the object of God's love; I had been seeking right affections towards Him — all right — but the thought that He loved me flowed in on me in joy and peace; and peace is a very deep thing, like a river.
I attach more importance to peace than to joy. I should wish to see you habitually in a joy more deep than demonstrative, but if Jesus is at the bottom of your heart . . . then your joy will be deep.
Sorrow is a good thing, and makes God a more abundant source of joy.
The true effect of real joy in the things of God is to empty us of ourselves and to make us think little of ourselves.
(Phil. iv. 4.) The apostle . . . exhorts Christians to rejoice: it is a testimony to the worth of Christ.
"Would to God, that not only thou, but all that hear me, were . . . altogether such as I am, except these bonds! "What happiness and what love (and in God these two things go together) are expressed in these words! A poor prisoner, aged and rejected, at the end of his career he is rich in God. Blessed years that he had spent in prison! He could give himself as a model of happiness, for it filled his heart.
(Phil. 3:18; 4:4.) If he even weeps over many who call themselves Christians he always rejoices in the Lord; in Him is that which nothing can alter. This is not an indifference to sorrow which hinders weeping, but it is a spring of joy which enlarges when there is distress, because of its immutability, and which even becomes more pure in the heart the more it becomes the only one, and it is in itself the only spring that is infinitely pure. When it is our only spring we thereby love others. If we love them besides Him we lose something of Him. When . . . we are weaned from all other springs His joy remains in all its purity, and our concern for others partakes of this same purity.
Our woe is Thine, Lord Jesus!
Our joy is in Thy love;
But woe and joy all lead us
To Thee, in heaven above.
"Without me ye can do nothing."
Oh, keep us, love divine, near Thee,
That we our nothingness may know
And ever to Thy glory be
Walking in faith while here below.
When we are really weak God never leaves us; but when unconscious of our infirmities we have to learn them by experience.
The whole thing for us is to get to absolute dependence on infallible faithfulness, on unwearied love to carry us through.
Conscious weakness causes a saint not to dare to move without God.
The place of strength is always that of being forced to lean on God.
The very essence of the condition of a soul in a right state is conscious dependence.
Let us delight in dependence — that a Person above us should minister to us and care for us.
There is an easy way of going on in worldliness, and there is nothing more sad than the quiet comfortable Christian going on day by day apart from dependence on the Lord.
We must always be in dependence or fall.
In every detail of our lives there is no blessing but in dependence on God. . . . If in speaking to you now I were to cease from depending on the Lord in doing it, all blessing to my own soul would cease. "Without me ye can do nothing." Neither can I speak, nor you hear, to profit without dependence on the Lord.
The point for us is to rest in the arm of the Lord, whatever may be, and not run to get help elsewhere.
We may be saying true things in prayer or in testimony, but if we are not realising our dependence on the Lord we shall not have His strength in the battle.
When victory does not tend to worship we and God part company as soon as the victory is achieved. How sad to see victory often leading to mere joy instead of still greater dependence on and delight in God.
We cannot make a visit right without His hand.
Remember, if we are in entire dependence, the temptation does not meet us at all. . . . Trial comes; but, like Jesus, we can say of it, "the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" Every trial becomes a blessed occasion for perfecting obedience, if near God; if otherwise, a temptation.
One cannot do an instant without Him; and oh, how blessed it is to trust Him! I feel all our work ought to be directly the immediate expression of God's mind, and it is a very solemn thing to work (and wait) directly from Him.
No one can pluck us out of Christ's hand; but why say this if there was not real danger and keeping of us in it? The wolf "catcheth" (same word as "pluck") the sheep and scattereth them, but cannot catch them out of Christ's hand: but here our responsibility comes in, our dependence on Him, our leaving ourselves to His infallible care; and one is as precious as the other is necessary.
"Let him . . . take up his cross daily."
We cling to Thee in weakness —
The manger and the cross;
We gaze upon Thy meekness,
Through suffering, pain and loss.
Before we take up the cross for ourselves there is the cross for us. He suffered and gave His life a ransom.
All must be forsaken in this world: every link with this world must be broken. The nearer anything is to the heart the more dangerous, the more it must be abhorred. Not that the affections are evil things: but Christ being rejected by this world everything that binds us to earth must be sacrificed for Him. Cost what it may, He must be followed; and one must know how to hate one's own life, and even to lose it, rather than grow lax in following the Lord.
The cross we shall have: and what of that? It is a good thing for us; it draws us away from the world; it breaks the will; it delivers from self by cutting, it may be, the next link to the heart. The cross has a delicious power, though not a pleasant thing; it would be no cross if it were.
Jesus is the good Shepherd; He leads forth His own sheep, He walks before them and the sheep follow Him. The disciples were afraid as they followed Jesus; Jesus led them to the cross. The cross is on the road which leads to glory. . . . It is the cross which takes from us all that which hinders our realising Christ in glory.
The more faithfulness there is in us the more sorrows doubtless, but then there will be consolations abounding; only let us take up the cross, and if it be really the cross we shall find Jesus with it and the earnest and spring of glory in our hearts.
The Lord says, You must take up the cross and follow Me. If you follow Me I can give you the cross; that is all I have to give you now. . . . You shall be like Me, and close to Me, too; but what you must reckon on is the cross if you are going to glory. . . . Are you ready to take up your cross or have you a question if the cross is right or if there is any other road ? The Lord knows none, and I know none.
All that leads us to be agreeable to the world and to the customs of men takes away the offence of the cross, and . . . puts us at a distance from Christ.
When my heart thoroughly trusts Christ it is His cross and His reproach, and it has the sweetness of Christ and all is sweet.
It is needful for us that we should pass through the sorrows as well as the joys of the work of the Lord, happy if our sorrows are His sorrows and His joys ours. The nearer we are to Him, and the more we thus reproduce the faithful image of what He is, the more we shall encounter the opposition of the world . . . and still more shall we experience the want of sympathy from Christians who will not walk to His footsteps. . . . But if we suffer with Jesus we shall reign with Him.
To whatever degree we enjoy the position of Jesus in heaven we must also share His position here below, to be hated.
Looking unto Jesus
"We see Jesus . . . crowned with glory and honour"
But though the world can see no more
Him it cast out with scorn,
The eye of fresh-born faith can soar
Above — where He is gone.
Are we . . . looking steadfastly into heaven? Alas! what inconstant hearts we have; how fickle and changing! The Holy Ghost ever leads the eye to, and would keep it fixed on, Jesus. . . . To reveal and glorify Him is the habitual aim of the Spirit.
It is well to be done with ourselves and to be taken up with Jesus. We are entitled to forget ourselves, we are entitled to forget our sins, we are entitled to forget all but Jesus.
(Heb. 12:1, 2.) The way in which the apostle engages them to disentangle themselves from every hindrance, whether sin or difficulty, is remarkable; as though they had nothing to do but cast them off as useless weights. And, in fact, when we look at Jesus nothing is easier; when we are not looking at Him, nothing more impossible.
What I would press upon you is to study Christ, so that we may be like Him here. There is nothing that so fills the soul with blessing and encouragement, or that so sanctifies: nothing which so gives the living sense of divine love, that gives courage.
The Lord give us while resting in His precious blood to go and contemplate Him, feed upon Him and live by Him. . . . See Him the lowly blessed patient One at God's right hand now, the One that God has given to keep our hearts right in the world of folly and pride.
When we are occupied with Jesus the littleness of all that one is, or of all that one has done, remains in the shade, and Jesus Himself alone stands out in relief.
There is a danger of being too much occupied with evil; it does not refresh, does not help the soul on. "Abstain from every form of evil," but be occupied ourselves and occupy others with Christ. The evil itself becomes not less evil, but less in comparison with the power of good where the soul dwells.
Looking to God one is above the heaving and breakers, and walking on a rough sea is the same as walking on a smooth sea.
If Christ is my life . . . Christ and heavenly things become the object of my life. Every creature must have an object. It is God's supreme prerogative not to want an object. He may love an object; but I cannot live without an object any more than without food. . . . "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." There is the life; and this life has got a perfect blessed object which it delights in and contemplates: and this the Lord Jesus is . . . in His glory.
How the heart knows that, how sweet soever the common joy of saints . . . yet that in joys and sorrows there is a looking to Jesus, a communion with Jesus, a dependence of heart on His approbation, in which none can participate. . . . The heart that knows Him could not do without this.
"Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
2 Peter 3:18
'Tis His. Yes, yes; no other sound
Could move my heart like this;
The Voice of Him that earlier bound
Through grace that heart to His.
In other accents now, 'tis true,
Than once my spirit woke
To life and peace, through which it grew
Under His gracious yoke.
Yes! then 'twas faith — Thy Word; but now
Thyself my soul draw'st nigh;
My soul with nearer thoughts to bow
Of brighter worlds on high.
The great secret of growth is looking up to the Lord as gracious.
It is astonishing what progress a soul sometimes makes in a time of sorrow. It has been much more with God; for, indeed, that alone makes us make progress. There is much more confidence, quietness, absence of the moving of the will — much more . . . dependence on Him, more intimacy with Him and independence of circumstances — a great deal less between us and Him — and then all the blessedness that is in Him comes to act upon the soul and reflect in it; and, oh, how sweet that is! What a difference it does make in the Christian, who, perhaps, was blameless in his walk in general previously.
If we are "to grow by the sincere milk of the word" . . . we need the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and in order to this there must be the exercising of ourselves unto godliness — the "laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings," so that the Holy Spirit be not grieved. Has the Christian envy, guile, hypocrisies, allowed to work in his heart? There can be no growth in the true knowledge of the things of God.
What is called the higher christian life is only the getting out of Roman 7 into 6 and 8 — a very real thing, and that which the great body of teachers would have you content without.
In the measure in which our spiritual position is raised, so, of course, do the difficulties and exercises of heart assume a character which requires greater experience and greater power. Our spiritual advance introduces us necessarily into them; but God is faithful not to suffer us to be tempted above that we are able.
Those who dwell in spirit in the heavenly country take the tone of it, and grow in the things wherein they find themselves.
As you grow in . . . knowledge of Him a joy grows deeper than that of first conversion. I have known Christ, more or less, between thirty and forty years, and I can say that I have ten thousand times more joy now than I had at first. It is a deeper, calmer joy. The water rushing down from a hill is beautiful to look at, and makes most noise; but you will find that the water that runs in the plain is deeper, calmer, more fructifying.
(1 John 2:12-15.) We . . . find three classes of Christians: fathers, young men, and babes. He (John) addresses them each twice. . . . That which characterises fathers in Christ is that they have known Him who is from the beginning, that is Christ. This is all that he has to say about them. All had resulted in that. He only repeats the same thing again when, changing his form of expression, he begins anew with these three classes. The fathers have known Christ. . . . They are not occupied with experience — that would be being occupied with self, with one's own heart. All that has passed away and Christ alone remains as our portion, unmingled with aught besides.
The Presence of God
"In Thy presence is fulness of joy."
Such here on earth I am,
Though I in weakness roam;
My place on high,
God's self so nigh;
His presence is my home.
It is a terrible thing . . . when God's presence, in the place of being the home of our hearts, is terror and distress. I have no doubt that you will find hundreds of Christians who, instead of feeling away from home when they have got out of God's presence, are at ease.
We are called to be "at home" with God. The Lord Jesus Christ, when about to go back to heaven, said to Mary, "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." We ought to be as much "at home" in spirit there as He. Was it not with joy, with confidence, that Jesus said He was going to the presence of His Father? . . . And was it not, in a certain sense, with the feeling of going home? . . . This is the church's place; we are called to be "at home" with our God and Father — to the blessedness of His house. No matter what the world may be, we should be there at home — happy home! as truly there in spirit, and as happy there as Christ.
We sometimes enjoy peace, we enjoy scripture, a hymn, or prayer, without realising the presence of God; and then there is not the same power, or the same exercise of heart in it. . . . It is very important not only to have a right thought, but to have it with Him. If you search your own heart, you will find that you may sing without realising Jesus Himself.
I find the constant tendency even of work for the Lord, and an active mind, ever is to take us out of the presence of God. . . . God present puts us in our place, and Himself in His place in our hearts; and what confidence that gives, and how self is gone in joy! Our great affair is to keep in His presence.
God would have us not only say, "We must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ," but add, "I am manifested to God." Be much before Him.
This getting out of God's presence is the source of all our weakness as saints, for in God's strength we can do anything.
If you have the assurance that God has intrusted you with His word, do not be troubled if you are set aside for a time. . . . Profit then by your present separation from the work to be much with Him. You will learn much inwardly in your incapacity to go forward, much of Himself.
The Lord's presence in the soul will bring self into utter ruin and nothingness.
It is touching to go through the gospels, and to get sufficiently intimate with Christ to see His motives in everything; but this is much to say, and requires to live much with Him; but this is blessing. . . . If you get to trace Him through all the path, you never get anything but perfectness.
"Whose I am, and whom I serve."
Lord! let me wait for Thee alone:
My life be only this —
To serve Thee here on earth unknown,
Then share Thy heavenly bliss.
Love for Jesus sets one to work. I know no other way.
All true service must result from the knowledge of Himself.
The grand secret of power in these days is faith in the presence of the Spirit of God.
Living to God inwardly is the only possible means of living to Him outwardly. All outward activity not moved . . . by this . . . tends to make us do without Christ, and brings in self. . . . I dread great activity without great communion.
What need we have to cast ourselves entirely on Him (the Spirit) in the work, and how simple it is when we do this! There is one thing that gives strength and that is to keep close to Christ. . . . The pressure of the work without that . . . contracts the heart, tends to make us lose that largeness of heart, that capacity of presenting the love of God freshly to souls.
It is not that I believe in the work one will always be in that liberty which sees all in the light. It is necessary to walk by faith sometimes. Alas! the best workmen have borne witness to it; an apostle, an earthen vessel . . . placed in a contest between the Lord and the enemy of souls, will feel sometimes the shock of the battle, seeing it takes place in him and by him and the engaged forces.
Oh! for labourers who after God's heart might present Christ to souls.
A real workman, "a man of God," is a great, the greatest treasure in the world.
It is a dangerous thing to be raised all at once into a pulpit. . . . Man's acceptation is not God's approbation, although God can give it to us to favour the propagation of the truth; but if we stop at the result we are at a distance from the source, and that becomes a snare to wither up our soul, instead of a means to lead us to those upon whom we should pour out His riches.
In connection with your work . . . seek the Lord's face, and lean on Him. Work is a favour which is granted us. Be quite peaceful and happy in the sense of grace; then go and pour out that peace to souls. This is true service, from which one returns very weary it may be in body, but sustained and happy; one rests beneath God's wings, and takes up the service again till the true rest comes.
Oh! how little have we of the Spirit, to baffle the plans and devices and snares of Satan! The church ought to be not only in possession of truth but so possessed with the Spirit as, though tried, to baffle all his snares. This is what so humbles me . . . no strength or adequate power to keep every saint by the presence of His Spirit out of his power.
"If any thirst, let him come unto me and drink, and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." You drink for yourself, you thirst for yourself, thus it is that rivers flow from us for others.
Divine Affections (1)
"God is love."
1 John 4:8
O mind divine! so must it be
That glory all belongs to God;
O love divine, that did decree
We should be part, through Jesus' blood.
What is deepest is simplest, that is the perfect love of God.
When once we come really to know God, we know Him as love. Then, knowing that everything comes to us from Him, though we be in a desert — no matter where, or what the circumstances — we interpret all by His love.
There is but one only sense in which God cannot suffice to Himself, that is, in His love; His love needs other beings besides Himself to render them happy. He will render others happy.
The law says, Love: it is a righteous demand. But the gospel, Christ Himself, says, "God so loved."
No creation, nothing that has ever been seen in this world, could be what the cross was. Creation may shew God's power, but it cannot bring out God's love and truth as the cross does; and therefore it remains everlastingly the wonderful and blessed place of learning, what could be learnt nowhere else, of all that God is.
There is so much selfishness in the heart of man that the love of God is to him an enigma, still more incomprehensible than His holiness. No one understood Jesus, because He manifested God.
The Holy Spirit makes us feel the love of the Father. He brings us into liberty by shewing us, not that we are little, but how great God is.
Where does faith see the greatest depth of man's sin and hatred of God? In the cross; and at the same glance it sees the greatest extent of God's triumphant love and mercy to man. The spear of the centurion which pierced the side of Jesus only brought out that which spoke of love and mercy.
It is indeed a sore trial to see one who is part of ourselves . . . taken off at one blow, and unexpectedly. Still, what a difference to have the Lord's love to look to. It is a consolation which changes everything. . . . The knowledge of the love of God, which is come into the place of death, has brightened with the most blessed rays all its darkness; and the darkness only serves to shew what a comfort it is to have such a light.
Christ must be all to us or we shall soon be discouraged. . . . When Christ is not everything and the Father's love the air we breathe for life we are not going right.
The Father's love, the source of all,
Sweeter than all it gives,
Shines on us now without recall,
And lasts while Jesus lives.
Jehovah chastens those He loves. . . . The word draws two conclusions from this truth. . . . It will not be without a cause in me; it will never be without love in God. Hence I am not to despise, for there is a cause in me which makes the holy God of love act so; I am not to faint, for it is His love which does it. It is correcting a son in whom his Father delights.
Divine Affections (2)
"The love of Christ which passeth knowledge."
Love, that no suffering stayed,
We'll praise, true love divine;
Love that for us atonement made,
Love that has made us Thine.
The Lord that I have known as laying down His life for me, is the same Lord I have to do with every day of my life, and all His dealings with me are on the same principles of grace. . . . How precious, how strengthening it is to know that Jesus is at this moment feeling and exercising the same love towards me as when He died on the cross for me.
His death opened the flood-gates, in order that the full tide of love might flow over poor sinners.
(1 Cor. 11:26.) Impossible to find two words, the bringing together of which has so important a meaning, the death of the Lord. How many things are comprised in that He who is called the Lord had died! What love! what purposes! what efficacy! what results!
O Jesus, Lord, who loved me like to Thee?
Fruit of Thy work, with Thee, too, there to see
Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll,
Myself the prize and travail of Thy soul.
O what rest . . . for the poor soul when he sees he has to do with One who has conquered all enemies for him. . . . Before he came to the consciousness of this, the book of his daily transgressions appeared to ascend up before God, black with the catalogue of his offences, on every leaf of which was written, Sin, sin, sin; but now these blackened characters are effaced, and on each page is transcribed in letters of blood, in the blood of God's dear Lamb, Love, love, love.
That love is a sanctuary in which we walk while passing through a world of snares, the provoking of all men . . . and the more the crossing and entanglement of what is without, the sweeter the rest of His presence.
The great thing is to be near Christ, and to be constantly near Christ, where the soul is kept in peace . . . and thus in the sense of love, that our service may flow from thus dwelling with Him, and carry the stamp of it. How did Christ reveal the Father? "The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." He . . . could declare Him, as in the present sense of the love of which He was the object, which He enjoyed in His bosom. He was perfect, and we are failing servants, but that is the only way of all carrying the unction of His presence.
And when the storm is all passed, the brightness for which He is preparing us will shine out unclouded, and it will be Himself. . . . And oh, how blessed the love, Jesu's love, that has brought us there for ever with Him.
"Men shall be lovers of self."
2 Tim. 3:2 (New Translation).
O man! how hast thou proved
What in thy heart is found;
By grace divine unmoved,
By self in fetters bound.
The flesh always pens itself in, because it is selfish. When we are in the Spirit there is always unity.
Impossible when we think of ourselves to be witnesses to others of what God is!
The grief, which egotism and self-love produce, makes room for the action of the evil spirit on the soul.
Love likes to be a servant, and selfishness likes to be served.
If I get hold of the path, the spirit, the mind of Jesus, nothing could be more hateful to me than anything of self. You never find an act of self in Christ. Not merely was there no selfishness, but there was no self in Him.
When the soul is cast upon God the Lord is with the soul in the trial, and the mind is kept perfectly calm. The Spirit of love, the Spirit of Christ is there; if thinking of myself this is the spirit of selfishness.
The Holy Spirit has no fellowship with . . . self. The heart is not delivered from it until the Spirit has guided our thoughts to Jesus. . . . The effectual presence of the Spirit crucifies egotism and gives freedom of thought about ourselves . . . it occupies us with but one object — Jesus.
We have the privilege to have done with ourselves in the house and bosom of God.
Our own will and making ourselves the centre is the spring of all our wretchedness; for outward circumstances may be trying — may give sorrow, but not wretchedness — where this is it is the fruit of will, restless and discontented.
Our natural tendency is to get pleasures for self. Innocent they may be but they take the heart from God; they are spoiled by sin. People ask the harm of these things. The question is, What use are you making of them, and where is your heart? The moment there is a turning from the cross (death to everything) our Lord says, "Get thee behind me."
Moses did not seek to have his face shine, nor even know when it did, but when he had been with God it did so. . . . A shining face never sees itself. The heart is occupied with Christ, and in a certain sense and measure self is gone.
Self is always alienation from God.
Self-confidence is ruin. "Be not wise in thine own eyes." They do not see far if they only see self, and that is what always is in our own eyes.
Our prayers, our praises and our services are so poor and worthless, and yet we are proud of them. We seek praise from our fellowmen for the very things we have to confess as tainted with sin before God. What need, therefore, to bare our hearts and say, "See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Songs of the Night
"In the night his song shall be with me."
And oh I how deep the peace when, nature gone,
Thy Spirit fills the soul, strengthened with might,
With love divine; and God as love is known!
Lord I keep my soul, and guide my steps aright.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Praise be for ever His who giveth songs by night.
The most important victory has often come when we have been most afraid of being beaten; the brightest songs when an evil day has forced us to lean on God.
To me partings go dreadfully deep. In spirit all is well. . . . Jesus is the bond which no distance breaks and no nearness can give without Him, and which will, blessed be His name, last for ever.
He weans us in every way from this world, that He may attach us to that one for which He has created us anew.
God's hand is always better than man's; His seeming harshness even is better than the world's favour; the spring which guides it is always love, and love directed by perfect wisdom, which we shall understand by-and-by.
He makes His own feel that His support is worth all the trouble in the word.
The soul needs daily the comfort of the blood.
Broken vessels are often better than whole ones to shew the sufficiency and grace of Christ.
His good hand is upon us, even (and very particularly) in things that are painful. It was not worth while to give a long history of the prosperity of Job, but the Holy Spirit of God has given us details of all that took place in his difficulties. It was worth while; and it is for the profit of His own to the end of the age. It is there that the work of our God is found. May He give us to have entire confidence in Him.
Christianity was sown in the tears of the Son of God. It is the travail of His soul which He will see in that day. So in all service (and we must make up our minds to it) where there is to be real blessing there must be the sorrow of the world's opposition, and even in the church the greater sorrow of trials, of failure, and shortcoming, where we desire to see Christ fully represented.
Nature, of course, shrinks from suffering: still, when it comes, if we are with God, strength and joy are there. I have found in the little difficulties I have had much more trial in expecting trial than when it was there. When there I was calm and quiet and in no way uneasy. Whereas I was when expecting it: Out of it, if it threatens you are thinking of it. In it, you are looking out of it to the Lord.
If the needed work can be done without the sorrow, He will not send the sorrow. . . . His love is far better than our will. Trust Him. . . . If He strikes, be assured He will give more than He takes away.
[The loss of] a mother . . . is always an immense loss . . . . No one can be a mother but a mother, but God can be everything to us, and towards us in all our cares.
The Man of Sorrows
"A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."
O Lord! Thy wondrous story
My inmost soul doth move;
I ponder o'er Thy glory —
Thy lonely path of love!
But, O divine Sojourner,
'Midst man's unfathomed ill,
Love, that made Thee a mourner,
It is not man's to tell.
"Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well." . . . Oh! to think of the Lord Himself, whom none of the princes of this world knew, but who was the Lord of glory, sitting weary on the well, thirsty, and dependent upon this world for a drink of water — the world that was made by Him, and knew Him not!
He was the display, at all cost to Himself, of divine love to man.
I adore the love that led Him to be made sin for me. There was the full testing of the love that carried Him through all. It is deeply instructive, though very dreadful to see there what man is. What do I expect of my friends if I am on trial? At least that they will not forsake me. They all forsook Him, and fled! In a judge? I expect him to protect innocence. Pilate washes his hands of His blood, and gives Him over to the people! In a priest, what do I expect? That he will intercede for the ignorant and for them that are out of the way. They urge the people, who cry, "Away with him, away with him!"
Every man was the opposite of what was right, and that one Man was not only right, but in divine love He was going trough it all!
His sorrows must ever be a depth into which we look over on the edge with solemn awe. . . . It exalts His grace to the soul to look into that depth, and makes one feel that none but a divine Person (and one perfect in every way) could have been there.
He looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but found none. . . . He was tested and tried to the last degree of human suffering and sorrow, standing alone in this, praying in an agony and alone . . . none to sympathise with Him; Mary of Bethany was the only one, but for the rest never one had sympathy with Him; never one that wanted it that He had not sympathy with.
None of us can fathom what it was to One who had dwelt in the bosom of the Father to find His soul as a man forsaken of Him.
In the measure in which He knew what it was to be holy, He felt what it was to be made sin before God. In the measure in which He knew the love of God, He felt what it was to be forsaken of God.
He is the resurrection and the life. Wonderful that He, such in this world, Master of death, steps then into death Himself for us!
He has purchased us too dearly to give us up.
The traits of that face, Lord,
Once marred through Thy grace, Lord,
Our joy'll be to trace
At Thy coming again.
With Thee evermore, Lord,
Our hearts will adore, Lord;
Our sorrow'll be o'er
At Thy coming again.
"Love is of God."
God's nature, love without alloy,
Our hearts are given e'en now to share.
When love leads us, men are indeed those for whom we give ourselves; but God, He to whom we offer ourselves. (Eph. 5:2.)
It is a serious though a most happy thing to undertake direct service. . . . The mere fact of an inclination does not shew that we are called to it. I believe the surest sign is earnest love to souls, and intercourse through the need of the heart with Christ about it. . . . It is not the desire to speak, but for souls and the building up of saints which is the real moving spring of service.
How many needs, hidden even in the most degraded souls, would confess themselves . . . if a love, a goodness, which could give them confidence were presented to them. . . . How many souls are whirling in pleasure, in order to silence the moral griefs which torment them. Divine love not only answers needs, it makes them speak.
"He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God.". . . I beseech you . . . earnestly to maintain this spirit of love which is the presence of God. . . . For sin is separating, and God is uniting, for He is love; and this will be the healing of all things, for they are to be gathered into one in Christ. . . . Walk then in love . . . and you will walk in power, and in the glory of God.
I dread narrowness of heart more than anything for the church of Christ.
Love enables a man to meet all trials. Should one spit in his face, this makes no difference, for love abides; because it never draws its strength from circumstances, but rides above all circumstances.
Love . . . is the true means of holiness, when it is real.
"Love to all the saints" is an element of the blessing spoken of by the apostle, and even as to intelligence — "able to comprehend with all saints"; because they are in Christ's heart, and if not in ours, He has not His place, and self has so far excluded Him.
Love, free from self, can and does think of all that concerns others and understands what will affect them.
Love does not grow weary of serving, though service may be often in trial . . . indeed, save with rare encouragement, always in the general run of it, is. "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake."
How few so present their charity to God, and bring God into their charity, exercising it for and towards Him, though in behalf of man, so that they persevere nothing the less in its exercise, though the more they love the less they be loved! it is for God's sake.
The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, &c. . . . Remark that the first of these fruits are love, joy, peace. The Spirit will surely produce those practical fruits which manifest the life of Christ in the sight of men, but the inward fruits, the fruits Godward, come first, the condition of soul needful for producing the others.
The All-Sufficiency of Christ
"My grace is sufficient for thee."
2 Cor. 12:9
Lord Jesus! Source of every grace,
Glorious in light divine.
It is a blessed truth that . . . we cannot be in circumstances Christ is not sufficient for. Whether it be the church or individual saints, it is impossible to be in a place for which Christ is not sufficient.
I was noticing awhile back how perfect the words, "Rejoice in the Lord always"! — there is the positive portion. "Be careful for nothing" then, as to all that is down here; and in laying our burdens on His throne and heart, it is peace — for He is not troubled and knows the end from the beginning — the peace of God keeps our hearts. What a sanctuary to have in going through!
Above all, believe ever — "My grace is sufficient for thee." When the heart gets on Christ, all is easy: it is away from what is a snare to us.
He is always the same, sufficient for the young, and sufficient also for the old, and so full of tenderness and grace. May we be kept humble, so as to know Him, and all the resources that are in Him, and they are in Him for . . . even loneliness — for He has felt it: "Ye shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me." So you can say, "I and Christ that is with me."
The more we know of Him, the more we know He is everything.
Our wisdom is to know that we can do nothing without Jesus — with Him everything that is according to His will. The secret of peace is to be occupied with Him for His own sake, and then we shall find peace in Him and through Him, and be more than conquerors when trouble comes.
It is a great thing to see that the power of Grist in us can set us entirely above everything.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." In practice we often contradict this truth, probing into that which is below, and only learning disappointment. But God is never disappointed when we are disappointed. He allows us to be disappointed with ourselves, in order that we may better learn our need of, and be satisfied with, Christ.
"Lead me in the way everlasting.". . . Is not this way Christ Himself, the only way, the way everlasting? . . . He (is) pleased to search out our own ways, that He may lead us therein — to shew us that Christ must be practically to us that which He declares Himself to be in His word, "the first and the last," our "Alpha and Omega.". . . All is well that leads us "in the way everlasting," that beats us out of our own ways and brings us there, that makes us in result value Christ for the way, as well as at the outset, and the end — Christ learnt as our portion to live upon, as well as known for the pardon of our sins.
"This one thing I do."
Thy glory, Lord — this living waste
To us no rest can give;
Our path is on with earnest haste,
Lord, in Thy rest to live.
The man with one object is the energetic man. The Christian's one object is Christ.
It is devotedness that . . . God will have: everywhere . . . that love for souls which seeks them out with more activity easily rows slack. . . . One may lose one's first love as to the work while continuing to work. May God kindle in us again that energy of love.
Certainly riches never entered the church of God without producing more trial and difficulty. You may see rich men giving their riches to relieve the poverty of others, and this is very blessed; but wherever the character of riches continues it enfeebles the energies of the church of God.
Where there is the energy of the Spirit, there is light, and a single eye which makes us judge that Christ is worth all, and that all else is worth nothing: and this purifies the saint's heart.
We need to be constantly renewed; without that, spiritual energy does not keep up. . . . And it is not progress in knowledge that effects that . . . what is of moment is the keeping of oneself near God. There love maintains itself and grows — His love in our soul.
In seeking earnestly the Lord and His grace . . . power comes in to deliver and free us and make us find in Christ delight which shuts out evil and the world. Seek this, and do not be lazy in divine things.
Christ is presented in glory as One who leads us on in energy, conforming us to what He is according to glory; and . . . when the question is of nourishing the inward life . . . and character, it is the humbled Christ on whom we have to feed. This is partly the case in Philippians 2 and 3: the former the inward state and character, Christ coming down; the latter a glorified Christ, the Object after which we run.
(2 Cor. 11. 23-33.) Troubles and dangers without, incessant anxieties within, a courage that quailed before no peril, a love for poor sinners and for the assembly that nothing chilled — these few lines sketch the picture of a life of such absolute devotedness that it touches the coldest heart; it makes us feel our selfishness, and bend the knee before Him who was the living source of the blessed apostle's devotedness, before Him whose glory inspired it.
Our souls know what it is to leave things here behind, and to find Christ excellently precious: and then some vain trifle comes in, and pulls us down, and makes us more intensely interested about the passing trifle than all the solid realities which are in Christ Jesus.
God produces desires within us that nothing but the glory can satisfy. The Holy Ghost produces the power now to enter into these things. This shews the importance of our minds dwelling there . . . . "Whatsoever is lovely" — or "of good report, think on these things." How bright the heart would be! What growing up to the knowledge and preciousness of Christ, if accustomed to be where God dwells.
The secret of real progress is personal attachment to Himself.
Help from the Sanctuary
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength."
Though thy way be long and dreary,
Eagle strength He'll still renew
Garments fresh and foot unweary
Tell how God hath brought thee through.
We should be in the spirit of waiting pilgrims, not weary ones.
You must not call yourself old as if you were tired. The Lord is never weary, yet the Ancient of Days; you have to renew your strength as an eagle to bear fruit in old age.
The source of real strength is in the sense of the Lord's being gracious. The natural man in us always disbelieves Christ as the only source of strength and every blessing.
His way is "in the sanctuary" if His way is "in the sea," and if we are with Him there, the sea bows to His power; but to none else that I know of . . . when He works all is soon still.
Oh, if the Lord Himself was not the workman, how hopeless would be the thought of reaching all the souls that are in need. It is a comfort then to be able to look to Him, that His eye and grace may reach them.
I have only one precious word to say to you: keep close to Jesus, you know you will find there joy, strength, and that consciousness of His love which sustains everywhere and makes everything else become nothing, there is our happiness and our life.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." . . . Human efforts shut this help out. . . . No human planning is ever right. In His own time and way, God will come in. . . . Human efforts prove want of faith and restlessness, and planning is mere flesh.
For the path where my Saviour is gone
Has led up to His Father and God —
To the place where He's now on the throne:
And His strength shall be mine on the road.
Duty ever leads into difficulty, but I have the consolation of saying, God is there, and victory certain.
Occupy yourselves with Christ that you may be refreshed and strengthened. . . . It is a great thing to pass through sorrows with Him; they are then turned to a well, and grace comes down too. Pray for the saints — all of them — carry the sorrows to Christ, and in your own spirit bring Christ to the sorrows.
It is a great comfort that, in looking at Christ, I not only see the thing I ought to be, but I get the thing I ought to be, "grace for grace." "We all, with open face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory unto glory." There is real growth there. . . . In likeness to Christ, and it ought to be growth every instant.
I generally have many things which press heavily within the range of my responsibility. But I commit them to Him who is mighty above all which this poor world can require, and to whom a burden is no burden at all. . . . He orders everything according to the counsel of His will.
"Come unto me ... and I will give you rest"
There is rest in the Saviour's heart,
Who never turned sorrow away,
But has found, in what sin had made our part,
The place of His love's display.
We . . . look to our state and our fruit and our feelings to know if we are His . . . which cannot give rest, and ought not. Jesus does not say, Find out our state and you shall have rest, but "Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden," as you are, "and I will give you rest." Our rest comes not from our being what He wants, but His being what we want.
It is Jesus who gives abiding rest to our souls, and not what our thoughts about ourselves may be. Faith never thinks about that which is in ourselves as its ground of rest; it receives, loves and apprehends what God has revealed, and what are God's thoughts about Jesus, in whom is His rest.
And here we walk, as sons through grace,
A Father's love our present joy:
Sons, in the brightness of Thy face,
Find rest no sorrows can destroy.
He has not only made peace, but "My peace I give unto you." . . . What was the peace of Christ? He was here in uninterrupted intercourse with the Father — the peace of perfect communion. Christ puts us into His place, and we have fellowship with the Father; and when we walk in that, we have this peace of Christ.
There is but one man . . . who never had a place of rest. . . . "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." And if we now have a nest, a place of rest in God, it is because for our sakes Jesus was without rest on earth.
After weariness of heart in the world — after the Lord Jesus had gone through the world and found no place where a really broken heart could rest — He came to shew that what could not be found for man anywhere else could be found in God. This is so blessed! that after all, the poor wearied heart, wearied with itself, with its own ways, wearied with the world and everything, can find rest in the blessedness of the bosom of the Father.
One may rest sometimes with God, as well as act with Him; for one cannot act without Him, save to trouble, even though meaning to do good.
He gives rest supreme as One who knew what peace was in trouble as none ever did.
I . . . seek to minister Christ. It is what souls want, both for quietness and forming them in His image. It is those who are not with Him who are restless.
What settled quietness of spirit it gives, to have found yourself with the Father, through the knowledge of the Son, in confidence of heart! Have your hearts got that? Are they really occupied with the Father? . . . Can our hearts say, I have found the Father in Christ?
The Faithfulness of God
"God is faithful."
1 Cor. 1:9
Oh! when — without a cloud —
His features trace,
Whose faithful love so long
We've known in grace;
That love itself enjoy —
Which ever true
Did, in our feeble path,
Its work pursue?
We should . . . have faith in the faithfulness of God to keep His own.
He will not always use us in everything, but He will always do His own work, and we can or ought to trust Him for it.
Patience is often a great remedy, because there is a God who acts. . . . There are cases where we must let God alone do all.
Do not doubt His faithfulness . . . oh, how ungrateful I should be if I did not testify to His faithfulness, and to His great and sweet and precious patience with His poor servant.
Mere attacks, I feel, are never to be answered. If we have failed — acknowledge it; if not — leave it to the Lord.
"Thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God." . . . You get as dirty in contending with a sweep as in hugging him . . . our part is to live above these things, and not to think of attacks but of souls.
When God works we look for full results.
I have constantly found that bringing things to God, if real, is the way of having them done.
His love and grace never fail. Were we alone in the world, His grace would be sufficient, and blessed be His name, perpetual company.
Paul . . . could do all things through Him who strengthened him. Sweet and precious experience! not only because it gives ability to meet all circumstances, which is of great price, but because the Lord is known, the constant, faithful, mighty friend of the heart. It is not "I can do all things," but "I can do all through him who strengtheneth me." It is a strength which continually flows from a relationship with Christ, a connection with Him maintained in the heart. Neither is it only "one can do all things." This is true; but Paul had learnt it practically. He knew what he could . . . reckon on. Christ had always been faithful to him, had brought him through so many difficulties, and through so many seasons of prosperity, that he had learnt to trust in Him, and not in circumstances. And Christ was the same ever.
(Paul's) heart rested in God; his assurance with regard to the Philippians expresses it. My God, he says, shall richly supply all your need. He does not express a wish that God may do so. He had learnt what his God was by his own experience. My God, he says, He whom I have learned to know in all the circumstances through which I have passed, shall fill you with all good things. . . . He applies his own experience of that which God was to him, and his experience of the faithfulness of Christ, to the Philippians.
May the presence of that faithful and all good Jesus sustain you and rejoice your heart.
"Take my yoke upon you."
There is rest in the blessed yoke
That knows no will but His;
That learns from His path, and
the words He spoke,
What that loving patience is!
All power and real effective service will be found to spring from entire submission.
Circumstances would not trouble if they did not find something in us contrary to God; they would rustle by as the wind.
Until the will has been crushed in the presence of the majesty of God, there cannot be a right state before God.
There is nothing that forms the heart, breaking down the will in us, like the delight that we have in Christ in fellowship with the Father.
Whenever I act in my own will in anything, I am wronging God of His own title through the blood of Christ.
The breaking of the will is a great means of opening the understanding.
It is only when the will mixes itself up with the sorrow that there is any bitterness in it, or a pain in which Christ is not.
"So it seemed good in thy sight" was the hinge of the Lord's comfort.
Liberty of will is just slavery to the devil.
We want our hearts to get right; we want our wills broken down; if we go to look at Christ as . . . presented to us in Gethsemane, can we seek to satisfy the will now?
There is a wonderful difference between a soul . . . whose will has been broken and made subject, and one which, while seeking to do right, does it according to its own will.
If the soul walks with God, it is not hard, but it is submissive; and there is no softer spirit, nor one which is more susceptible of every feeling than submission; but then it takes the will out of the affections without destroying them, and that is very precious.
God is full of mercy and has compassion on us and on our weakness. He is tender and pitiful in His ways; but if we are determined to follow our own will, He knows how to break it. . . . The worst of all chastening is that He should leave us to follow our own ways.
He (the Lord Jesus Christ) takes the sorrows of human nature — weariness, hunger; but with a heart that never was weary when a service of love was to be performed. . . . It is most sweet and blessed to see it, and to see He had no will of His own in it. When they tell Him, "He whom thou lovest is sick," we should have thought He would have started off at once. No, He abode two days still where He was, He had no commandment from His Father. We see it was to shew His Godhead. Still, as a servant, He had no word, and He did not stir. It seemed very hard. His home, if He had one on earth, was that house at Bethany. You never find Him going out of the place of a servant, and a never was anything but the perfection of love in it.
"He satisfieth the longing soul."
My heart is filled with bliss —
Heaven's own eternal joys:
My soul at rest —
Of peace possessed —
That world its strength employs.
God could find no rest save in Jesus. We may look throughout the world, we shall find nothing which can satisfy our hearts but Jesus.
When the heart is made full with the rich blessings of Christ, it will not turn back to gnaw upon itself.
All the things that will make me blessed in heaven I have now. . . . If you want to know what makes a Christian happy in life and death it is that the Christ he has got now is the Christ that he will have in heaven. He has got his home there, where the One he loves and knows best is already.
The fact is, your hearts are too big for the world, it cannot fill them; they are too little for Christ, for He fills heaven; yet will He fill you to overflowing.
"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you;" He had no, joy from the world. He had perfect joy in the Father. His joy was in bringing forth fruit to the Father's glory. He is thus shewing to us how in fruit-bearing we can have joy and blessedness down here. "That your joy might be full." That is what He wants us to have — fulness of joy; and it is not from the world, but the kind of joy He had. It is His desire that we should have His own joy.
Every one who does not know Christ has either a disappointed heart or a heart seeking what will disappoint it.
If His love is not filling my heart, I shall go to some vanity in a shop to satisfy me: my heart will get into my business. If my spirit is wrapped up in the love of Christ, there will be rivers of water flowing out.
No testimony, no preaching, no teaching, even if the matter of it be all right, is right teaching, when the soul is not filled for itself first from God. We must drink for ourselves that rivers may flow. Indeed all else dries up the soul.
The world at once sees if God is the centre of a person. The heart is not morbid, but thoroughly happy in God; it has perfect satisfaction in Him, this is what makes such a difference in life.
"Is the wilderness before thee —
Desert lands where drought abides?
Heavenly springs shall there restore thee
Fresh from God's exhaustless tides."
"If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I . . . go unto the Father." Inasmuch as He has exercised love to us, He associates us with Himself, and expects us to rejoice in His happiness. What a place to give us: to be able to say, "I am happy because He is glorified;" our hearts satisfied that Christ, who has loved us and made us happy, is contented! We see Him in the glory due to Him, and we are satisfied. . . . He expects us to be glad in His happiness!
Nearness to God
"It is good for me to draw near to God."
Oh! wondrous, infinite, divine!
Keep near, my soul, to that blest place,
Where all those heavenly glories shine
Which suit the brightness of His face!
The nearer we are to the Lord Jesus, the better we understand that he who touches His brethren "toucheth the apple of his eye."
The true effect of being near to Christ puts me into fellowship with Himself about others, instead of being under my own circumstances. How can I be turning my heart to the joys of one, and the sorrows of another, unless I am living close to Christ, and getting my heart filled with Him instead of self.
Oh! that we . . . had nearness enough to Christ to draw from Him all grace and all devotedness, and correct in ourselves whatever tends to mar the one or the other.
Activity, unless renewing itself in communion with Him, may be sincere, but will degenerate into routine . . . and is even dangerous; the soul gets far from God without knowing it.
If we live near enough to Christ we live for the church not from it. It is . . . not by what we find, but by what we bring that we can serve in Christianity. . . . Living in the good with Him, you carry it in with you into the service and circumstances of the church. . . . You must not want the support of the walking well of the church. It is the greatest comfort, but you must be for Christ whatever the church needs.
If we get near to the Lord, if we are in communion with God within the holy place, we see all the saints with His eyes, as dear to Him . . . objects of Christ's delight and the fruit of the travail of His soul; then intercession for them is easy, and faithfulness to them becomes easy and gracious too. . . . Divinely, given love for God's people on high is the spring of severity even, if needed below.
The absolutely perfect and living rule is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him all written rules are united in one solitary living example. . . . Happy is he who keeps by His side to learn how one ought to walk.
The great point is to be nearer Him in heart than even the work, and then we do the work from Him and in some measure as He would.
A time of retirement is a very good thing in our service, it puts us before God instead of our work before us, and makes us feel, too, that our work is in His hands and not our own. I remember when I used to be ill every year, I always felt if I had been near enough to God I should not have needed it.
He that is nearest to Christ will best serve Him, and there is no serving Him without it.
When one is near heaven, when Jesus is all, one place scarcely differs from another; God remains God, holy and love, and man remains man.
Backsliding and Restoration
"He restoreth my soul."
Still sweet 'tis to discover,
If clouds have dimmed my sight,
When passed, eternal Lover,
Towards me, as e'er, Thou'rt bright.
Oh! guard my soul then, Jesus,
Abiding still with Thee;
And if I wander, teach me
Soon back to Thee to flee.
Habitual faithfulness in judging the flesh in little things is the secret of not falling.
It is very disagreeable work to get to know ourselves, but very useful work. Peter is sifted, and has to learn that this confidence that he has in himself is the very occasion of his failure. . . . In the end the Lord not only restores his soul but makes him the channel of blessing to others. When you know your own utter nothingness, then you can go and help others. "Go and feed my sheep" the Lord says to Peter.
Humility before man is often the best proof of restoration before God.
Suppose my soul is out of communion, the natural heart says, I must correct the cause of this before I can come to Christ. But He is gracious; and knowing this, the way is to return to Him at once just as we are, and then humble ourselves deeply before Him. It is only in Him and from Him that we shall find that which shall restore our souls.
To be truly restored the Christian must recognise the point of departure where his soul gave up communion with God and sought its own will. . . . Communion with God is not thoroughly re-established, self and its will are not thoroughly broken, as long as the Christian has not found the point where his heart began to lose its spiritual sensibility, for the presence of God makes us feel that.
Diligence in your business is all right, but do not let it get between your soul and God. If you are not as bright with Him, and more and more so, search out why, and look to Him, for He giveth more grace.
If the sorrow gets between our souls and God so as to produce distrust, it is sin. . . . Whether from trouble, or from offending, He can restore. . . . The Psalmist does not say, I must get my soul restored, and then go to God, but "He restoreth my soul."
How often the absence of God causes His value to be felt, whose presence had not been appreciated!
The slippery path of sin is often trodden with accelerated steps, because the first sin tends to weaken in the soul the authority and power of that which alone can prevent our committing still greater sins — that is, the word of God, as well as the consciousness of His presence, which imparts to the word all its practical power over us.
It is of all-importance that our inner life should be kept up to the height of our outward activity, else we are near some spiritual fall.
It is surprising what a man can believe when he is left to himself, without being kept by God, when the power of the enemy is there. We talk of common sense, of reason (very precious they are), but history tells us that God alone gives them or preserves them to us.
The Light of Eternity
"The things that are seen (are) for a time, but those that are not seen eternal."
2 Cor. 4:18 (New Translation).
There all's unsullied light;
My heart lets in its rays:
And heavenly light
Makes all things bright
Seen in that blissful gaze.
I feel . . . more than ever that all is vanity, but what is for ever. We all know it, but how foolish all else will seem when we meet the blessed Lord.
I know I am a poor workman, but I know the hour will come when the only thing worth remembering — save eternal grace and Him who is the source . . . of it — if memory it can then be called, will be service and labour for Him who has loved us.
The time will soon come when we shall say of all that has not been Christ in our lives and ways, "That was all lost."
Faith should pierce through and see the things that are not seen: things get their true value in another world, and faith when vivid sees them there.
We shall sorrow at no sacrifice when we meet Him.
May the Lord graciously raise up labourers in His harvest. My heart is only there when not with Christ in heaven — there where through grace it will ever be. I find all that is not seen ever more, and alone, real. . . . I cannot conceive of having the heart anywhere else.
If we live to serve Christ, the sorrow of this world is worth while; but it is not the less sorrow in itself, whatever blessing may cheer us through it.
Do not faint . . . for if we really labour we must be more or less in conflict, trial and sorrow; for it is a work of faith, if a labour of love and of patience of hope; because though blessed fruits be by the way, and we may see them ripening, it is the great ingathering is the time of joy. And it is a distinct view and reference to that which gives our work a real, deep, holy character, such as His was, and will prove real in that day. You must labour in sorrow, for it is in the midst of evil, if you would reap in joy; and if we get our corn up into shocks, still it is unprotected out in the field, and we have the watchful care and anxiety till it is housed.
The new creation's stainless joy
Gleams through the present gloom;
That world of bliss without alloy —
The saint's eternal home.
Lot saw a well-watered plain and a city, and then dwelt in it on the earth, and consequently was in the midst of judgment; while Abraham sought a city out of sight, and he enjoyed the blessing and comfort of God being with him, go where he might.
Oh, the blessedness! when after all troubles and conflicts are over we shall "awake in his likeness." Believers, is there nothing in this to quicken your joy in meeting Jesus. Is there nothing in this to throw contempt upon the world and its unmeaning joys?
May the Lord's love and approbation be the things that govern us, and not the things that fade away.
Our Needs and His Fulness
"Grace to help in time of need."
On to Canaan's rest still wending,
E'en thy wants and woes shall bring
Suited grace from high descending; —
Thou shalt taste of mercy's spring.
Wisdom and philosophy never found out God; He makes Himself known to us through our needs; necessity finds Him out. . . . The sinner's heart — yes, and the saint's heart too — is put in its right place in this way. I doubt much if we have ever learned anything solidly except we have learnt it thus.
We never ought to be discouraged, because the Lord we trust in never fails, nor can. It is just in 2 Timothy, when all was in ruin and declension, that Paul looks for his dear son to be strong in the faith: there never is so good a time for it, because it is needed, and the Lord always meets need.
I have learnt at the cross what God was to me as a sinner; and now I have to learn how He meets my wants as a saint, by feeling my need and bringing it to Him. To be hungry is not enough, I must be really starving to know what is in His heart towards me. When the prodigal was hungry he went to feed upon husks; but when he was starving, he turned to his father's house, and then learnt the love of the father's heart.
If we did but know a little more of the comfort and joy of drinking into the fulness of God's love, we should feel present circumstances to be as nothing.
Whenever there is real need in the wilderness, it is a sin to doubt whether God will help us or not. . . . Tempting the Lord is doubting the supply of His goodness in giving all that we need.
"Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." The leper was sure of the power, but did not know the love that was there. He carries the love right up to the leper, "and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean." If man touched a leper he was unclean and put out of the camp. But He cannot be defiled. . . . Holiness undefiled and undefilable carries to sinners the love they need.
"How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! ". . . This is a blessed theme, the theme of God's thoughts — higher, as the heavens are higher than the earth, than our thoughts, the theme of God's fathomless and illimitable grace. Here is real liberty. Do we know what it is to have our own thoughts, so narrow, so beggared, so mean, beaten down by God's high, generous, liberal thoughts — His thoughts of us as to what we are in Christ? . . . Jesus is the great thought of God — God's thoughts are expressed to us in Him. It is not an unfallen angel but a sinner quickened by the Spirit of God who can thus get into the deep thoughts of God.
"All power is given unto me."
"Behold, I give unto you power . . . over all the power of the enemy."
God has been glorified in Man;
Man sits at God's right hand:
Obedient in the race He ran,
Can now all power command.
When there are great arrangements for carrying on work, there is not the recognition of this inherent blessing, which "tarrieth not for the sons of men." I do not tarry for men if I have faith in God, and act upon the strength of that. Let a man act as the Lord leads him. The Spirit of God is not to be fettered by man. All power arises from the direct authoritative energy of the Holy Ghost in the individual.
Uncompromising firmness becomes us, yet calmness, and nothing keeps the soul so calm as a sense of grace. This is a sign of power, and moreover connected with humbleness. . . . A sense of nothingness, with the spirit of peace gives a power to surmount all things.
It is not the quantity but the quality of my labour which ever troubles me. I do nothing else, and labour . . . without stint, but it is inward power, abstraction of heart to Christ, so as to come from the fulness of power in Him, and have nothing there which hinders absolute association of mind with His thoughts and purposes — Himself. . . . It is a different thing coming in the consciousness that we come from Him, as in His confidence, and having His message.
It is Christ Himself that becomes your power — the power of Christ resting upon you. His power you get in your weakness as your power to walk through this world.
In prayer God is ours, power is put in motion.
It is all important for us to get to the end of ourselves. . . . All our work feels the effect of our state, and a heart full of Christ and the seriousness of dealing with souls for eternity, which we feel when full of Him, and speaking from Him, gives weight and unction to it.
We cannot be the full epistle of Christ unless we exhibit power over all obstacles — even over death. Death is given us. The believer living in the power of Christ's life has entire power over death.
We are not to be occupied with evil, or be in any way terrified with the adversary, as if the Lord had not the upper hand. He has overcome and is leading on to a full blessing, when the enemy will be bound. We must go on in the confidence that power belongs to Him and is in His hands
In every case it is where God would have us to be that we find His precious blessing. Without Him we can do nothing. When He works in His grace, how happy one is to be the instrument of His power and goodness! The exercises of our hearts even, in the difficulties of the work, lead us to Him, and everything that does this is in blessing for us.
There is power in Christ, there is sufficiency in Christ for all He would have you to do or be.
The Divine Heart
"He was moved with compassion."
"The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."
But who, Thy path of service,
Thy steps removed from ill,
Thy patient love to serve us,
With human tongue can tell?
O'er all, Thy perfect goodness
Rose blessedly divine;
Poor hearts oppressed with sadness,
Found ever rest in Thine!
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." I get the knowledge of what was in God's heart as proved by His acts. He has thought of my state when I was a mere sinner and needed His love — God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I have thus the heart of God as the spring and source of all.
He can pity with the utmost tenderness for He came into the very centre of our misery.
If man had no heart for Christ, Christ had a heart for man.
There is heart enough in Jesus to open the heart of the vilest sinner. The sinner finds he has a title in God's heart when he can find none in his own. The woman that was a sinner loved much because much was forgiven her. It was a broken heart that met the heart of God, and the heart of God met a broken heart. It is wonderful when the heart of man really meets the heart of God.
The hand of God never deals but in concert with His heart of infinite love towards us. . . . And even if He sees good to allow a sorrow to arise — yea, to send it — it is from a hand which never mistakes, nor fails in answering to a heart whose love is perfect.
Jesus . . . could say, "I have glorified thee." The more evil there was done here, the more the Father was glorified. Never did irritation enter into Him; no contradiction ever prevented His having the same heart for man and for God.
Ah! when we study Christ's life down here, and what His heart and motives were, how shallow we are, . . . and how deep and far beyond our view the sufferings of His soul down here!
A broken heart is suited to a heart-healing God.
Whatever produces a care in us produces God's care for us.
There is much more reality in a living loving care of us than we are aware of. The Lord takes pains to assure us of His love, to persuade us of His love. "Ye are of more value than many sparrows."
"Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." He puts them under the shelter of the name "holy Father." He looked for them to be kept with all the Father's tenderness.
Let us trust Him more; let us seek to get more from Him; we cannot look for too much of His favour who has not spared His Son for us.
Christ will be a sure friend, and even if we begin to sink in the water, will stretch out His hand and lift us up. It is sweet to have His hand in any case, even if our failing foot has led Him to stretch it out.
"Fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."
A holy Father's constant care
Keeps watch with an unwearying eye,
To see what fruits His children bear,
Fruits that may suit their calling high.
You say you are in Christ . . . if you are in Christ, Christ is in you: then let me see Christ and nothing else.
The apostle prays for . . . the Philippians . . . "that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ" without a single stumble all the way along until the coming of the Lord.
The abiding in the sense of grace, in the presence of God, is the secret of all holiness, peace, and quietness of spirit.
If I wanted to describe a holy man, I should describe one who was always thinking of the Father's love and the Son's grace, and never of self.
Are you careful to avoid everything that dishonours Christ? Whatever destroys Christ's character before men is really a fall, though it may not be positively gross sin.
The characters that Christ takes in connection with these last days are these, "the holy, the true." Yes, that is the character He takes; that which He desires in His own, in their walk, when He is about to come. We have to watch over ourselves and over our brethren that it may be so.
I do not believe that when people have really got out of Romans 7 they get back into it. One may have truly received forgiveness of sins and had joy; but self is not known; and it is necessary to know oneself to be delivered. . . . Until we are delivered, sin has dominion; when we are, Christ is our strength.
If you are tempted, tried, look straight to Him; little by little you will become accustomed to believe in His goodness, though it be necessary to recur to it constantly: but the eye directed to Him makes Him known to the heart. Looking to Him who delivers us from ourselves is what excludes the thought of self, and sanctifies us . . . in a practical way.
In general those who say much about . . . being dead to nature do so because they are not. . . . In the epistle of Romans . . . we get "dead to sin" . . . "dead to the law" . . . it is also said, "if Christ be in you the body is dead because of sin." But dead to nature is, in all that we are said to be dead to, quite unknown to scripture in word or thought.
Let us beware, in ordinary things, of the first step that would separate us from inward holiness, and that separation of heart to Him which gives us His secret, light from above on all that is around; for the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.
We never have any excuse for any sin of act or thought, because Christ's grace is sufficient for us, and God is faithful not to suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear.
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. . . . Is this our simple purpose? . . . In any common act of life, our question should be, is this acceptable to the Lord? In purchasing an article of dress, it should not be simply, will this suit me? but is it acceptable to the Lord, does it suit Him?
"Unto him that loved us . . . be glory and dominion for ever and ever."
Rev. 1:5, 6
We'll praise Thee, glorious Lord!
Who died to set us free:
No earthly songs can joy afford
Like heavenly melody.
There is no other subject of praise for heaven than for earth; the blood of Christ has the same efficacy on earth as in heaven: that for which they praise God there is equally true for us. Their harps are better tuned than ours, but their song is the same.
Let us be persuaded to praise the Lord alone. He only is worthy of being praised, revered and adored. The song of the blessed (Rev. 5) praises none but Him who redeemed them with His blood. It contains not one word of praise for any of their own number. . . . Let us strive to bring our hearts into unison with that song. . . . This will be our happiness even here below, and contribute to God's glory, which is wronged by the praise that Christians too often bestow on each other.
"Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee." Nothing but praise becomes those who shall dwell in God's house; it will be their unwearied, untiring employ — continual praise.
The Lord says, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise to thee." . . . May we be in tune with our heavenly Guide! He shall well conduct our praises, and agreeably to the Father. His ear shall be attentive when He hears this voice lead us.
In spirit, we are in heaven. We are in Christ who fills it with His glory and His perfections. . . . Holiness and love and joy characterize the land. They are the fruits which grow there spontaneously, as are the thanksgivings that arise in the hearts of those who are there through redeeming power.
Any one can rejoice in the Lord when the Lord gives him what he likes. "Bless the Lord at all times: " that is the testing point. "In everything give thanks."
Are your voices tuned to praise with Christ? He is gone from the wrath and darkness of the cross into the light and love of His Father's, presence, and is praising. Can you praise with Him? There all trembling disappears. . . . Oh, how those who seek Him lag behind His heart. . . . If you seek Him, His word warrants that you shall praise Him.
The Christian may sometimes say, I am not in a state to praise; he may, it is true, be more or less capable of doing it well, but he is always in a state to do it . . . because Christ is always suitable to a sinful soul. His praises will be modified, but he will always praise.
"Oh Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me . . . Thou winnowest my path [marg.] and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways." . . . God is not forming a people for their own, but "for His praise." He is shewing them what they are in themselves, in order to shew them by His Spirit the blessed suitability of Christ to all their need.
Cheer for Pilgrims
"Strangers and pilgrims."
1 Peter 2:11
"Be of good cheer."
This world is a wilderness wide:
I have nothing to seek or to choose —
I've no thought in the waste to abide —
I've nought to regret nor to lose.
We are on a pilgrimage, and God makes us feel it in our circumstances. He detaches us from what is dearest down here; He weans us, and then without being aware of it, we ripen for heaven.
I was always a solitary soul, thinking more for, than with people: but it is good to be more alone — most good, if it be more alone with Christ. What a place that is!
"God who comforteth them that are cast down." Ah, I say, it is worth while being cast down for such comfort as that! . . . and think what it is to have God occupying Himself with us in our sorrows when we remember who He is.
I feel increasingly, what we all know, that the work for God is the work of God.
When the soul is down, like a ship when the tide is low, it is in danger of shoals and sandbanks; but when the tide is up there are no sandbanks, because the ship is lifted up above them all. Thus when the soul is happy in Christ it will go on peacefully, independently of all the trials we may be called to meet with in our fellow saints. . . . And thus going on in the tide of divine goodness, forgetting everything else, we can walk happily together, being occupied with Christ, and not with each other.
If Christ be between our hearts and the suffering, instead of the suffering getting between our hearts and Christ, we shall find the place of suffering to be the best place on the face of the earth for us, as all suffering will then bring us nearer Christ.
Be assured that God does more in us than we do for Him; and that what we do is only for Him in proportion as it is He Himself who works it in us.
The truth needs not man: man needs the truth.
Sweeping away snow is long work; if the sun is well up, it is gone. A night covers the earth afoot deep — what millions of men could not do, a day takes it all away if God's warmth comes in.
Do not be afraid of . . . consequences. If we do right God will take care of them.
I cannot do the work I did, but I have His work to do as long as He gives it to me.
We should like to go always with a full, favourable wind, but this does not make a good sailor.
Not a single thing in which we have served Christ shall be forgotten . . . all shall come out that is real, and what is real is Christ in us, and this only.
I have often seen isolated souls, if they kept close to the Lord, making more progress than those who enjoyed greater spiritual advantages. The latter thought that all that they enjoyed was of their faith, when it was not, whilst what one possesses alone, at least one possesses with God.
The Will of God
My meat is to do the will of him that sent me."
Yet I will wait, in labour still,
In Thy blest service here;
What Thou hast given me to fulfil —
Thy will — to me is dear!
If I have no motive but my Father's will, how astonishingly it simplifies everything. If you never thought of doing a thing, except because it was God's positive will that you should do it, how many things of your life would at once disappear; not in a constant struggle against one thing and another, but in the quiet consciousness that the grace of God has provided for everything, that you do not take a step, but what His love has provided for.
All the wheels of God's providence go in the way of His will which I am carrying out.
I have no home — though countless mercies; on earth my home, for the home belongs to the heart, is the place of His will; for the rest it will really be in heaven.
We have only to find His will, and we shall find Him in it.
Whenever God has made His will known to us, we are not to allow any after-influence whatever to call it in question, even although the latter may take the form of the word of God. If we were morally nearer to the Lord we should feel that the only true and right position is to follow that which He told us at first.
We may lose God's purpose of blessing to our own souls, by not seeing His mind in that which grieves us.
The law of God's mouth is precious above all, the expression of His own perfect mind and will, and of His will about us. We live by it, but we live on it too, and with delight as from Him and perfect for us.
"If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above." . . . We are risen, and have nothing more to do with the world, as to our affections and object, than a man who has died out of it. It does not say, "You must die," but "You are dead," for that is the christian state. . . . If an angel were here, he would do that which was God's will for him; but he would have nothing to do with the earth as to the object for which he lived.
We get the rule for his (the Christian's) conduct. It is very simple, very sweeping, and uncommonly satisfactory to the heart that really desires to do the will of God. "Whatsoever ye do, whether in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Be assured that, if we are near enough to God, we shall not be at a loss to know His will.
The Father's will was His (Christ's) motive for everything. There are thousands of things we do from habit, and we say we must do them; there is no "must" for me, but Christ's will.
Where there is spiritual discernment, things get simple and clear as daylight. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." . . . Where there is the fear of the Lord, there will be the understanding of His word and mind. But the word of God will not be simple without subjection to Him.
"In all their affliction he was afflicted."
There is rest in the tender love
That has trodden our path below;
That has given us a place
in the realms above,
but can all our sorrows know.
The nearer a man walks with God through grace, the more tender he becomes as to the faults of others; the longer he lives as a saint, the more conscious of the faithfulness and tenderness of God, and of what it has been applied to in himself.
Even as the Lord Jesus so perfectly entered into the sorrow . . . around Him when here, and was therefore a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" so in his measure ought the saint to take up the sense of the weight of evil that is in the world, and thus become a man of sorrows also.
The soul rejoices in . . . the immutable blessedness of God's presence. Then whatever the circumstances in which we are placed, if they be only of those of sorrow and trial, what is the consequence? God ministers of the fulness of the sympathy of His love to our souls; and thus they become, so to speak, as a door, or a chink to let in God.
Christ's heart was moved when He saw sorrow. He would not have us cold and indifferent to it, nor yet, on the other hand, selfishly affected by it, but full of tenderness and compassion towards those who are suffering. "He has set us an example that we should follow his steps."
I have always felt that the first break in the family is more than all others . . . but Christ has come in where death was and given a life beyond it all. He calls us in gracious and tender love to live in that. He knows how to comfort — knows what death is far better than we do, because He is the resurrection and the life — has wept over it and suffered it. He will comfort you . . . with a comfort which, if it feels for death, death cannot touch.
Christ was ever the perfect sociable man, perfectly accessible to sinners because He was thoroughly separated from them, and set apart for God inwardly, and had denied Himself, to live only by the words of God. . . . Such is the life of God below. . . . If we are truly free within, we can sympathise with that which is outside.
The blessed Lord never fails in sympathy and kindness for the inevitable sorrows of the way. If He takes away what was long an object, and for our hearts at least a prop, He always comes in to cheer and comfort the spirit. He alone we can never lose, who is really nearer to us than any human tie.
You cannot be in any condition that Christ did not come into. He plunged into the very sea of men's misery to help you out. It is a comfort to get mans sympathy, but he often cannot help us. What is it to get God's sympathy, which has power in it.
The Courts Above
"With Christ; which is far better."
When to Canaan's long-loved dwelling
Love divine thy foot shall bring,
There, with shouts of triumph swelling,
Zion's songs, in rest, to sing.
There no stranger God shall meet thee!
Stranger thou in courts above;
He who to His rest shall greet thee,
Greets thee with a well known love.
I have been very low — so low that I did not know whether I should get up again. I had no sense of death, for God . . . is specially engaged at such a moment. . . . I found myself within sight of my end, and I was surprised at the little difference which it made to me: Christ, the precious Saviour, with me for the journey; then, I through grace, with Him for ever — there was no change as to this . . . Christ is all . . . everything else will pass out of sight: but He, blessed be His name, never.
The Christian has no future but glory. All he has to do is to do God's will at the moment, and the rest is all in God's hands; only we know that glory awaits us.
It is a simple thing to go to heaven when one is going here. . . . I have long growingly felt — and every storm leads to that port — that that was where one was going, and that when the time was come, it was a kind of natural thing to go there.
As regards the sleep of the soul, it is a miserable doctrine that comes simply from Satan acting on man's reason. . . . . The Lord tells the thief he shall not wait till the kingdom, but that he should that day be with Him in paradise. Was he to be fast asleep, knowing nothing of Him, or anything else? It is monstrous! We are "absent from the body, and present with the Lord;" but if that means being fast asleep, we might as well be at the other end of the universe! "To depart and be with Christ is far better;" that is, being fast asleep and unconscious is better than serving Christ and ministering to His glory! The apostle did not know which to choose, to live, which was Christ, or — be fast asleep! It was gain, that is to be unconscious, compared with serving Christ faithfully here! But not only do these passages shew the moral absurdity of this notion to every spiritually-intelligent Christian, but there is no such thought in scripture of the soul's sleeping.
He tells us the place he is going to take us to — it is the Father's house. And what makes the Father's house of importance to the child — if he has right affections? It is, that the Father is there. . . . However feebly we may enjoy it now, when we talk of "going to heaven," it is going to the Father.
Death is not terrible now. Why? "Thou art with me." It is terrible without this. . . . Death is the very thing by which Christ has saved me, and it is that by which He will take me into His presence — "Absent from the body, present with the Lord."
Death belongs to me now; it is not (as it is called) a "king of terrors; "all things are ours; life is ours; death is ours; for we are Christ's and Christ is God's. (1 Cor. 3:22–23.)
Christ is All
The heart is satisfied; can ask no more;
All thought of self is now for ever o'er:
Christ, its unmingled object, fills the heart
In blest adoring love — its endless part.
Christ is the key to the puzzle of this world.
May God give us to be anything or nothing, so that the Lord Jesus may be everything.
The magnet always turns towards the pole; the needle always trembles a little when the storm and tempest roar, but its direction changes not; the needle of the christian heart always points towards Christ.
The only thing which can be truly blessing to our brethren, so precious because they belong to Him, is that which we reproduce of Him.
It is in Christ that all our thoughts are adjusted, set right, judged, and purified; for the infiniteness of God Himself staggers the littleness of the heart of man when Christ does not give him a sure support; without depriving him of anything of the fulness which is in God, but quite the contrary, it is in Him that we appreciate what He is.
If He is the life, all which that life does has Him for its end and object. . . . Everything relates to Him: we do not eat without Him (how can we when He is our very life?), we do not drink without Him; what we say, what we do, is said and done in the name of the Lord Jesus.
The most eminent Christian is one of whom no one has ever heard speak, some poor labourer or servant, whose all is Christ, and who does all for HIS eye, and His alone.
Jesus is the fountain of all blessedness, sent to poor, weak, wretched sinners, that they may have abundance of comfort, of peace and of enjoyment.
We must find everything but Christ nothing.
No trial can touch a person who has Christ for his all. He may have lost this or lost that; but if he has Christ he has that which he cannot lose.
It is not the quantity we do that makes spirituality, but the measure of presenting Christ: that is the value of our service, in a world where there is nothing of God.
It is not always in the correction of the failures which come before us that sources of unhappiness are healed; they disappear when souls are nourished upon the riches which are in Christ. We must think of this; we must, while ourselves feeding upon Christ — and He gives us to feed on Him without stint — cause others to breathe a new atmosphere, where Christ is.
He has purchased a "peculiar people, to be zealous of good works." He has brought you to Himself, to have your whole heart wrapped up in His interests, your thoughts, actions, everything for Him. . . . Are we living enough out of the world (not merely out of its pleasures but its cares) and enough with Christ for Him to have a large place in the daily thoughts of our hearts? . . . Have we the consciousness from the time we get up in the morning till we go to bed at night, that our hearts are with Christ, . . . a consciousness that He is in us, and we identified with Him?
Walking with God
"Enoch walked with God, and he was not."
O Holy Father, keep us here
In that blest name of love;
Walking before Thee without fear,
Till all be joy above.
Have you ever had a visit from God? I do not mean by dreams or visions; but has God so spoken to your conscience as for you to have known Him and yourself together?
There is nothing in this world like the dignity of a man always walking with God.
Simplicity is a great trait of walking in the presence of God.
It is essential for a soul to be brought into perfect confidence in God Himself, in order to walk with God.
What a difference there is between a man walking before God and one walking before men! What a trouble there is to keep things straight for a man walking before men! While one who is walking before God, though in the presence of men, can leave things quietly to God. The real difference between a mere professor of Christ and a Christian is just this.
Oh! cultivate intimacy with Him; it keeps the conscience alive and the heart happy.
"Blessed are they that dwell in thy house." . . . He whose heart is in the house, will prefer the rugged way which leads to it, to the easy way that leads away from it.
Talk with Him. Never be content without being able to walk and talk with Christ as with a dear friend. Be not satisfied with anything short of near intercourse with Him who has loved you with such manner of love!
The characteristic of those who love Him will be obedience. When we get to this close relationship, the sign of love is knowing the wishes of the person you love. Where Christ is precious, there is attentiveness. . . . Many Christians have not His commandments. . . . If we had an open ear — wakened morning by morning — we should have His commandments, we should know His mind, and what He wishes. I can find out the wishes of my father if I am thoughtful and attentive. . . . He that loves Him gets the "secret of the Lord."
My business is to walk as a Christian, and shew the character of Christ, not to set the world right; . . . If I could only set myself and other Christians right, that would be the thing.
It is not dangerous, as people often say, to be on the mount; but to have been there. When Paul got out of the third heaven, he wanted the thorn in the flesh. Then there was a danger of his saying, no one but you, Paul, has been there.
We are made epistles of Christ, and the path we are to walk in is to manifest the life of Jesus in our bodies. Everything I do should be the expression of the allegiance of my heart to Christ; and the manifestation of Him to others. The standard of walk is, what is "worthy of the Lord," not of man.
"The Lord shall be thy confidence."
Father! Thy name our souls would bless
As children taught by grace;
Lift up our hearts in righteousness,
And joy before Thy face.
Sweet is the confidence Thou giv'st,
Though high above our praise,
Our hearts resort to where Thou liv'st
In heaven's unclouded rays.
Communion with God always gives confidence in His power.
Do we know God's presence as the practical home of our hearts? Oh what joy is there in this! Of one thing be sure: coming to Him in the name of Jesus, you will find it to be the real, blessed, secure home of your hearts.
We are not to be weary in well doing; in due time we shall reap "if we faint not." . . . The principle of Matthew 20 is "Whatsoever is right I will give you," so he went and worked and trusted; trusting Christ is a great matter. I should have very little to shew for my work: I feel it sometimes. . . . But . . . if I only have His approval, oh how content I should be!
What the devil did was to undo our confidence in God: what Jesus did is to shew us that we may trust Him. And when the believer sees not this, he is looking to the devil and his temptations more than to the love and power of Christ, who has conquered all his enemies for him; but when our eyes are off all other objects, and on Christ, then, and then only, we can have peace.
"Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young." How beautifully this . . . shews us the tender care God has over all His creatures! He fails not to find a house for the most worthless of birds, and a nest for the most restless. What confidence this should give us! How we should rest! What repose the soul gets that casts itself upon the watchful tender care of Him who provides so fully for the need of all His creatures.
David exhibits that never-failing token of a heart that knows the Lord — confidence in God above all, and at whatever cost. "Let me fall into the hand of Jehovah." Sweet and precious thought of what the Lord is unto His people! and well He knows how to fill the heart with the certainty that He deserves its confidence. Even while chastening, God is more loving, more faithful, more worthy of confidence than any other.
The simple refuge of the saint is in God. "God is my defence." It is not counterplotting, nor using human means to meet the power of the enemy. We may partially perhaps and for a time so succeed, but in using carnal weapons we have lost the dependence which calls God in, and the perfection of walk and testimony which waiting on Him gives.
There are moments when God makes us feel that we cannot rely on man but only on Him. Often we have comfort from men. "God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus." But we must not rely on man. Hence there are moments when we have to say "all men are liars," and we are cast on the Lord.
The Heavenly Light
"God is light."
1 John 1:5
"In Thy light shall we see light."
Come, fill my soul! Thy light is ever pure
And brings from heaven what Thou alone canst give,
Yea, brings Thyself, the revelation sure
Of heaven's eternal bliss: in Thee we live.
It is only the presence of God as light which can cause us to condemn ourselves, and gives us power to purify ourselves from our deepest and well-known though hidden idols.
It is a time to be entirely heavenly, for the earth is far from God, and daily its darkness closes in, but we belong to the light, and await another day.
How happy one is to belong to Him, and in His light to see light! How brilliant and glorious is this light to those who are from home, awaiting . . . the coming of this precious Saviour, who will set them in heaven as the rays of His glory and jewels of His crown . . . as the bride of His heart.
Too often a healing of a humbling state of things is sought more than the state of soul which has given occasion to it . . . and if we do not wait God's doing . . . we have to await the effect of not doing it. There is but One that can bring the light that judges conscience into the soul: on Him we can count. . . . We cannot hasten God; He, when He is working, will have all things real.
I have never seen a soul living in its experiences and occupied with itself, with whom the "I" had not a place, without the person's being aware of it. . . . We do not become acquainted with ourselves by thinking about ourselves: for while we think of Him the "I" disappears: one is in the light, where one is not occupied with oneself.
Does my path in everyday life come from the light, and is it guided by it? . . . All will be bright where it is with God. There will be trials, and trials with God are perhaps the brightest spots in any man's life.
Mere integrity will not suffice without God to find out evil. An honest natural man may use his conscience, but as the natural eye must have light to search with, so we the presence of Him who is light.
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him." . . . The path in which He enjoyed His Father's love was a path of unclouded joy, and it was a path of undivided obedience. He here shews His disciples if they are to walk in the light and favour of His countenance, they must walk in the same path as He did Himself.
O! dwell with me; let no distracting thought
Intrude to hide from me that heavenly light ;
Be Thou my strength! Let not what Thou hast brought
Be chased by idle nature's poor delight.
"I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
And can I call my home.
My Father's house on high?
The rest of God, my rest to come
My place of liberty?
Yes! in that light unstained.
My stainless soul shall live;
My heart's deep longings more than gained,
When God His rest shall give!
Heart devotedness to Christ and obedience will only be thought of value in the past when we come to meet Him.
"I will come again, and receive you unto myself." This is the language of affection. He does not say, I will send for you. No, that would not satisfy the heart — "I will come." He would not be content without having them where He is, and without coming to fetch them.
"The glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." But if I see the Lamb in the midst of the throne, Ah! I say, now I am indeed at home, that is the sight that dazzles every other, and that is the sight which is for me.
The shape (the Lord's coming) has taken in my mind is, how it connects itself with every thought and relationship of the Christian in scripture. I never treat of it now as a point of knowledge.
That way is upward still —
Where life and glory are;
My rest's above:
In perfect love
The glory I shall share.
Is the thought of the Lord's coming your daily delight? Does it influence you in the ten thousand details of your everyday life? Or are you so walking hand in hand with the world that the very thought of His coming fills you with shame?
He is gone to prepare a place for us. . . . We shall be there . . . ever with Him: no interruption, no decay of joy, but rather ever increasing delight, as there always is when the object is worthy of the heart, and here it is infinite.
John 14:23. The Father and the Son come and make their abode with us. How little we have this manifestation! The Lord's heart is on them, they cannot be happy here; but they are to look for the blessedness of being with the Father, and "we will come and abide in you, till you can come and abide with us."
He will take the place of a servant even in the glory. "He shall gird himself . . . and will come forth and serve them." His love is His glory; the nearer we are to Him, the more we shall adore Him.
There is nothing more practically important for everyday work and service than our waiting for God's Son from heaven. . . . The moment I am waiting for God's Son from heaven, my life is but the dealings of God with me with an object, and the object is that it should be to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
The saints were converted to wait for God's Son from heaven, and when they lost that, all the mischief came in. . . . If you were constantly waiting for Him, would it not change you? . . . Would people be heaping up money or treasures when they know He is coming?
You cannot float down the stream of the world that is going to the ocean of judgment. You are to be looking for Him.