Edited by W T Turpin.
1 "The Persecutor Surprised"
2 A New Well, or will the Old Well do?
3 "The, Day of the Lord, the Night of the World"
4 "Conviction and Confidence"
5 "The Storm-cloud Behind"
6 "The Blood-sprinkled Lintel"
7 The First Word of the Risen Saviour
8 Christless Religion!
9 There is a Saviour in Glory
10 The Record of God
11 Despising and Perishing
12 "Rejected Convictions"
13 Saved Now and for Ever
14 "It Behoved Christ to Suffer and to Rise"
15 "Caught Away, or Left Behind"
16 The Wreck and the Island
18 "A Feast of Fat Things"
19 Perfected for Ever
20 "Life or Judgment"
21 "Who is on Our Side — Who?"
22 The Lord Jesus in Moses, the Prophets, and all the Scriptures
23 "God was in Christ"
24 "The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ
25 "The Conscience and the Heart"
26 "The Jailer Liberated"
27 The Prodigal's Reception
28 "He Died for Me"
29 Jordan: or Death Abolished
30 A Word to Anxious Ones
31 The Good Samaritan
32 The Dumb to Speak; or, the Mouth Closed and Opened
33 A Path through Grace to Glory
34 The Old Creation and the New
35 The Syrophenician
36 A Voice from the Deep
37 "Touch this Rock;" or the Heart made Light as a Feather
38 Too Late
39 "Fast Asleep"
40 "Rest . . . Rest"
41 "The Glorious Gospel of the Blessed God"
42 "Salvation, Liberty, Food and Safety"
43 "I Shall Lie Down Happy To-night!"
44 Crucifixion and Mortification
45 Simeon; or, the Reception of Christ
46 She Fell Asleep
47 Christ Our Peace; or the Only Foundation
48 "Is it Peace?"
49 "Without Hope"
50 The Glory of the Cross
51 "No, No"
52 Sowing and Reaping
53 God Speaking from Heaven
54 "The Master of the House Risen Up, and the Door Shut"
55 The Light and the Blood
56 The Veil Rent, the Rocks Riven, the Graves Opened
57 "What hath God Wrought?"
58 The Harvest Past, the Summer Ended
59 Death, Guilt, and the Power of Satan
60 The Three Crosses
61 "Peace with God"
62 "In His Hand"
63 Righteous in Him
64 "Complete in Him"
65 "Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain"
66 A Saviour in Glory
67 The Lord hath Triumphed Gloriously
68 "The Glory of that Light"
70 "I will Trust"
71 "All Things are Ready — Come!"
72 "He is Our Peace"
73 The Touch of Faith
74 "The Closed Door"
75 "Chiefest among Ten Thousand"
76 "Jesus in Glory"
78 "The Light from Heaven"
"The Persecutor Surprised"
I would desire particularly to ask the question, why was it that God said to Moses, who was a good man, as we would popularly term it, "Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet"? (Ex. 3:5.) But that to a wretched rebel like Saul of Tarsus, in the hour when his malignity against Christ was at its height, God, as it were, draws nigh to him, addresses him by name, and then and there takes him up to make him a pattern of the grace that is in His own heart. There surely must be some weighty reason to account for the different way in which God acts in both these cases; — let us look a little at each. Moses, as I have said, was a man in his day remarkable for the very opposite of that which distinguished Saul of Tarsus, raised up as well as fitted of God to lead forth Jehovah's people out of Egypt; and yet when he ventured to draw nigh and look at the burning bush, he is not permitted. God Himself insists on distance between Moses and Himself; now it is not that the blessed God is in any sense indifferent to the sorrows or afflictions of enslaved Israel: what a blessed word that is, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people, which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;" and yet, to the man who is to carry out all that is expressed in such words, God says, "Draw not nigh," and Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
The very contrary, and contrast of all this, is supplied in what is commonly called the conversion of Saul. Why is it that God keeps up distance with Moses, and Himself draws nigh to a persecutor like Saul? The answer is at once simple and plain, because His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, had died upon the cross, and in death had not only made atonement, but so glorified God, that what God was not free to do, in consistency with His own character, in the day of Moses, He is perfectly free to do in the day of Saul of Tarsus. In the day of Exodus 3, and up to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, man, as a child of Adam, was tested by God, and because under law, had demands made upon him by God in righteousness; in other words, God was demanding from man what man was both unable and unwilling to give. Man was still on his trial, and because so, to him, as such, God says you cannot come near me, "draw not nigh hither;" the blessed God may, and does bear with man, test him, and proves him in every way, but nearness to God is that which cannot be known, while as yet the first man is on his trial before God; but it may be said, Why could not God have granted that nearness to Himself, or Himself drawn nigh to a sinner, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus, on the ground of the sacrifice of Christ TO BE offered? The answer is as simple as it is plain; so long as the history of the first man (or man as connected with Adam) is not closed or ended, on the contrary, is allowed a place, though on trial, God must, while demanding from him, keep him at a distance, else we should have a wilful rebellious creature allowed on that ground, and brought into that relationship, which is true only of the one who is in Christ a new creation; — and beside all this, as long as the first man is a recognised existence before God, God must, in consistency with Himself, demand from man; but this very demanding from him is in itself keeping man at a distance, as he cannot answer to the claims of a holy God. When I speak of the first man, I mean man as he is by nature connected with Adam, who brought ruin upon the race; and when I speak of a recognised existence, and God making demands upon it, I mean that judgment had not been executed upon it; God looked at it as still to be tested and tried, and consequently looked for what became Him from it.
But to turn to the history of Saul of Tarsus; how different it is there! God comes to give righteousness, not to look for it, or demand it. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, had been to earth, had died on the cross, and by His precious death had made propitiation, and as well as ending in God's sight the first man He supplied an answer to every righteous claim of a holy God. God can now come out and express His love for the sinner, yea for the very chief of sinners; and here it may be well to look at what made Saul of Tarsus the chief of sinners. It surely was not that he was an immoral man, or an outcast from society, as they say: were he so he would never have been selected for, and charged with, the mission on which he was running, when God stopped him; on the contrary, Philippians 3 tells us that Saul was one unequalled among his fellows for morality. "If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin; an Hebrew of the Hebrews, as touching the law a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church, touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless." What made him chief of sinners was, not immorality, but the dreadful will and purpose with which he set himself against the purpose and mind of God. Listen to his own account of it;" I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth; which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities." (Acts 26:9-11.) Who could conceive wilfulness or wickedness more desperate than this, to force from city to city the scattered saints of God, and not this only, but to compel them to blaspheme the one who was to them above every one; on whose account they are suffering at the hands of this relentless hater of Jesus of Nazareth. Oh, what contrasts rise up before the soul as we think of it! With the natural thought of God and His ways, how would you predicate the course He would adopt with a wretch like Saul, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the object of his terrible hate? Why, of course, you say, Almighty power would sweep from the earth a plague like Saul; the sword of divine vengeance and justice would be unsheathed to overtake such a one in his wild wickedness. But oh, how different from all this natural thought of God, His blessed way with poor Saul! Stop him God will, but with what? With the pit? No, but with glory! A light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shone round about him; at mid-day, when the sun is brightest, Saul is arrested by what is brighter still! What a sight! A scorner, despiser, hater of Christ in heaven, awakened, arrested, spoken to by that very blessed One Himself: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me"? That very One Himself who had been on the cross, under the judgment, because of man's sin; that very One Himself, who, in that wonderful moment, knew what it was to be forsaken of God, that such as Saul might never be forgotten of Him; now risen up from among the dead, received up into glory, causes the rays of that glory to fall upon the persecutor's path, draws nigh to him, speaks to him, comes not to hurl him into the bottomless pit, but to take him up; to give him forgiveness, righteousness, glory; to make a pattern man of him, a chosen vessel unto Himself; to bear his name before the Gentiles, kings and children of Israel. Such is the way of His grace now, even to the vilest sinner. Christ has died, and by His death righteousness has been established, the love of God which was not liberated to travel out to sinners until righteousness is established now goes out world wide. There is not only salvation for the vilest sinner, but glory; it is the joy of the heart of God to minister everything now from Himself to sinners. May there be, by the Holy Ghost, in the hearts of all who read these pages, a desire to accept and receive what the blessed God delights to bestow. W. T. T.
A New Well, or will the Old Well do?
A circumstance, which aptly illustrates the great truth of Christianity, happened not long since in a small village on the west coast of Scotland. The sewerage of the place needed improvement and cleansing; and in the progress of the work, one of the principal wells in the town, from which pure water had been supplied to families in the vicinity, became polluted by contact with the sewer. As soon as the cause of the disaster was discovered, remedial measures were set a-going, in the hope of restoring the now foul spring to its original purity. Every effort which skill and ingenuity could suggest was taken into consideration, but to no purpose. It was thought possible to clean and wash out the old well as far as it could be seen, but this was abandoned as useless. It was next suggested that if the old building of the well, stones, sand, &c., were removed, and a new well built instead thereof, the desired object would be attained. Many conflicting opinions prevailed as to the possibility of success, should this plan be put into execution — some for, others against; at last, it was resolved to call in a man whose occupation had been that of a constructor of wells, and whose experience justified the expectation that his counsel would lead to a proper decision. Nor did he disappoint this hope; for when called and questioned, his reply was unequivocally, "It is not possible to procure pure and sweet water from a spring polluted as this by sewerage, either by cleansing it out, as far as you can see, or by removing the old building and constructing a new one. You must build a new well, with new stones, new sand, and in an entirely new place." I happened to walk into the shop were these facts were being told, and when I heard them, it struck me, what a picture of Christianity that is! and it also struck me how little known or understood Christianity is! And now, do you not see, dear reader, how true all this is, that man, in his natural state, is the polluted well — defiled in his spring, his nature corrupt? What is to be done? God's heart is overflowing in its love for guilty man, while man's heart is overflowing with hatred to, or indifference toward the blessed God. What is to be done? God must set that filthy well — man — aside, there is nought else for it. The spring is polluted at its source, man is irreparable. So God sends His own blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into this world, the scene of the dishonour done to Himself, as well as the witness of man's ruin and degradation, and here where man had utterly failed to glorify God, He, that blessed One, that beautiful and perfect Man, perfectly glorified God, "I have glorified Thee on the earth," and thus exhibited what a dependent and subject man ought to be: and not only this, but as He walked this world, He manifested God His Father, "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." What a wonderful thought, "the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him," is the One who comes into this poor world which was at distance from God, to tell out the secrets of that bosom towards poor man on it; and, inasmuch as judgment is resting on man by reason of sin, and that he is, moreover, walking the world in a forfeited life, God's Son bears the judgment, gives up His own life for man's that was forfeited, and at the same time presents His own personal excellency to God. Man's history is now closed, the old well is declared, as to its standing and state, to be irremediable; but this is not all, for He who in grace thus gave Himself, "is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father," and becomes now in Himself, thus risen, the new standing for the new well. Therefore is it written, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new, and all things are of God."
Dear reader, what wonderful words these last five are, "all things are of God:" the position is of God, the building on it of God, the builder, God. Even as in the case of the well, the old position, mortar, stones, and sand were all set aside as good for nothing, so in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the believer once a sinner, as a child of Adam, was entirely judged and put away out of God's sight; not only his sins but that which did them, his nature; and in the Lord Jesus Christ risen from the dead, the new era or second volume of our history is opened, and on the title page of this volume is inscribed — "All things are of God."
May the Lord the Spirit open hearts to see the great salvation of God, how He has settled the question of the old well with its corrupt spring, and what a magnificent well He has opened in His Son risen from the dead, the second Man, the last Adam, the ender of the old creation, and Head of the new. W. T. T.
"The, Day of the Lord, the Night of the World"
1 Thessalonians 5:2-5.
Nothing is more solemn than the description given us in the above scripture, of that character of things which we find now in the world around us, and which shall usher in the "Day of the Lord," "when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape." Now peace and safety is that which is secured for all who accept it from Christ; fruit of His cross; but the world who have rejected Christ and refused His peace, will accept the devil's peace, and it will be the subject of universal congratulation in the hour of speedy judgment. When the Lord Jesus Christ died and rose again, righteousness was established, and peace made, therefore it is said that He made peace by the blood of His cross; and His first word when He stood in the midst of His disciples after His resurrection, was "Peace be unto you." He had in death vanquished every enemy, He only proclaimed it when He said, "Peace be unto you," beside all this, He Himself alive from the dead was before them their peace: Now this is what the world will not have at any cost, the peace and safety desired by it and looked for by it, is prosperity, ease, luxury, indifference, in a word it is a peace procured by getting rid of all thought of God. If the world could blot out God, it would; the safety it wants is immunity from all that would interfere with its downward course. What a solemn thought that it shall eat of the fruit of its own ways, it shall have peace and safety, then sudden destruction! When the Lord Jesus Christ came at first it was to bear judgment, and so doing to put away sin. When He comes again in the day of the Lord, it will be to execute judgment upon them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me press upon my reader the striking likeness between the world now, and the world of Noah's time. If we turn to Luke 17:26, 27, we are told that all went on in Noah's day in its customary rotation, eating, drinking, and marrying until the day Noah entered the ark, and then was the night of the antediluvian age; solemn fact, no precursor was there of a coming flood, save the testimony and act of Noah, which was refused and disbelieved. The morning of the day that Noah entered the ark the sun rose, as it was ever wont to do. No cloud, surcharged with rain, cast its shadow upon the scene, and yet sudden destruction overtook the world of that day. We are told in the epistle to the Hebrews, that it was of things not seen as yet, that Noah's faith was warned about; he believed God, contrary to any evidence of senses, and resisted the reasoning of men around him. We are told in the book of Genesis that it was a mist which went up from the earth that watered it, and that God had not caused it to rain upon the earth. (Chap. 2:5, 6.) What they had not seen they would not believe, and this is the character of the world and the people on it to-day. The testimony of God is not credited — what is not seen is not believed. Of the world's rejecting the Holy Ghost, it is said, "Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not." (John 14:17.) God has given testimony abundant in His word that His Son, the Lord Jesus, will come and execute judgment upon the despisers of His grace and rejecters of His love. Prior to this, that same blessed One will come to the air for His people; for all who have believed in Himself He will come and receive them to Himself, even as God, before the flood, took up Enoch to Himself. There are two things, my reader, either of which might happen at any moment. One is death, which would seal the doom of all who are not in Christ; the other is the Lord's coming for His people, which would equally seal the doom of all who, in this professing christian land, have, nevertheless, not believed in Christ, and who would be left behind for that terrible night, which will overtake the world, and surprise man on it as a thief. What a solemn thought, that at any moment eternal destinies might be fixed. Have you given it a thought? Let not, I beseech you, flattering words and fair speeches beguile you. Be assured of it, for God has said it, "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." Sudden destruction will fall upon all who know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Children of the night and of darkness, hearken to the voice of God, turn not a deaf ear; every pulsation of your heart, every beat of the pendulum of the clock of time brings you nearer to the moment of judgment.
The gospel is the good news of God about His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, for a sinner such as you, that for you, even for such as you, God has forgiveness, peace, glory, a place with Christ where Christ is now. It is His joy to give, to receive; His delight to make you a child of day, and of light. Christ has died, has risen again, is now in glory, the author of eternal salvation to every poor soul that looks to Him. W. T. T.
"The Light from Heaven"
Straight down from the throne of glory
Shone the light that enter'd Saul;
His wild wickedness for ever
Ended in that wondrous fall.
What subdued him? was it judgment
In his worst and maddest hour?
Did earth open, as on Korah,
And the rebel worm devour?
God arrests him, but 'tis blessing,
Not destruction that is given;
Love comes to the chief of sinners,
Glory raises him to heaven.
Yes, that Jesus, Saul so hated,
Had redeem'd that very Saul;
'Twas his Saviour he was smiting,
In "that light" he saw it all.
Oh! he found that glory brighter
Than the Eastern noon-day blaze,
For it gave him blessed vision
Upon Jesu's face to gaze.
Yes, a Saviour in the glory
Did the sinner see that day,
Found a sun to light him ever,
Found "the new and living way."
Sinner, wilt thou come and read it,
Read "the glory of that light"?
'Tis the heart of God out-flowing,
Coming to thee in thy night.
Learning here how Calv'ry ended,
All that hinder'd love before,
That which shone on Saul can reach thee,
Light thy path for evermore. — O. R.
"Conviction and Confidence "
Leviticus 13:38-46; 14:1-7.
Nothing can be more wonderful than that we should be able to say to a poor sinner here on earth, in the midst of his leprosy and misery, "Well there is one on the throne of God who loves you," "there is one up there in glory whose heart is full of pity for you." Just conceive for a moment what such tidings would be to a poor, friendless, hopeless, homeless rebel, whose sins and sorrows had reached to such a height that nothing but despair was left, for him to hear that any one thinks of him, or cares for him, is good news so wonderful that he almost fears it too good to be true. A Saviour in glory who died for rebels on earth is a contrast indeed, and yet such is the testimony of God at this moment — a testimony to be repeated wherever there is a sinner, a rebel, a lost one, on the face of the whole world. In calling attention to the scriptures above quoted, my object is to point out as simply as I can the place the word of God has in convicting and assuring the soul — to press upon the conscience the all-important fact that the discovery of our misery, or of the one who has heart and power to meet us in it, are in no way consequent upon our feeling or sense, but upon the unchanging word of the living God. I have heard the question asked, "Do you feel you are a sinner?" Yet I could not say it is the first question. It would be felt, no doubt, if the testimony of God about man as a child of Adam were believed. Let my reader be assured that the testimony of God is as clear and distinct as can be. By nature man is a leper before God, without Christ, without hope, without God in the world; an unclean rebel, with a mind and will set against God. Hear His word "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues have they used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their way, and the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Rom. 3:10-18.)
Nothing could be more decisive or convicting. It is the great antitype of the leper, who is convicted and shut out of the camp of Israel by the word of the priest. It was not a question of his feeling his leprosy; the question was what the priest had said, or his word, who knew the fatal plague spot. The leper in Israel, with rent clothes, his head bare, a covering upon his upper lip, crying, Unclean, unclean, goes outside the camp, that is, takes the position the priest of Israel by his word placed him in. What a solemn picture of the condition of man as a child of Adam now! God has shut every man's mouth, has pronounced man unclean, unfit for His presence; but along with this (of which no adequate picture could be given), that same blessed God assures man that there are in Himself springs of compassion and mercy, of which He has the heart to make guilty rebels, loathsome lepers, the object. This, God has announced to sinners, has demonstrated in His Son the Lord Jesus, and bestows now wherever there is the faith that casts itself on Him. How wonderful to know that I have a Saviour in glory! A Saviour who came to earth and died for me, rose again from the dead, having in death closed my history as a leper before God; and because He righteously met all the claims of the throne of God, took His seat on high in glory, from whence He lets His voice be heard and His light seen, from whence all that I need comes, and to which glory it is the purpose of His heart to bring me. It is the word of God that convicts me of my condition as seen and judged by Him in righteousness, and it is the same word that bids me take comfort, because He who shuts my mouth, if I may so say, opens His, to tell me of the grace and mercy that is in Himself for me, as well as the full provision He has made in the blood-shedding of Christ, to take me out of the state in which by nature I am at a distance from Him, and to bring me unto Himself. What a message to be put in trust with to poor man in this world, declaring to him in his leprosy and ruin, a love so wonderful, that it rests satisfied with nothing short of his complete deliverance from condemnation and death, and his full satisfaction in the place where God would have him, justified from all things, accepted in the beloved, and united by the Holy Ghost to Christ in heaven. Oh! how wonderful this is, God's own joy, accomplished in and through His own Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Once again, let me press it upon my reader, all this is on the testimony of God, borne in the word of God to man's ruin and God's love; the picture of the former being the leper in Israel placed outside the camp by the word of the priest.
I turn now to look at the second scripture, and there we shall find the same in principle. The leper being cleansed is once again to be brought back; but how? "Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed, two birds, alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water; as for the living bird he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water; and he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field." (Vers. 4-7.)
In the above verses which describe the cleansing of the leper, we have a striking picture of the principle on which God now justifies the ungodly; namely, on the ground of the death of Christ, by which sin is put away, and righteousness established, and the resurrection of Christ, which proclaims God's satisfaction and our justification.
The bird killed in an earthen vessel, over running water, is, in picture, Christ crucified, and the living bird let loose, Christ risen and glorified, and all this the result of that which was in God's heart respecting poor sinners on earth, helpless and hopeless in their ruin. What a comfort to be able to show all this to a poor sinner as God's testimony, that the word which silences him on his side opens the door of hope on God's side. Wonderful message, yet more wonderful messenger He who came from heaven to make it all good in His death and resurrection for us.
One point more and I close: we have seen, I trust, that it is God's testimony to man's ruin, not man's feelings or thoughts about it; and that God has likewise given testimony to all that was in His heart in the gift, death, resurrection, and glory of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. There is one other point of testimony to which I would direct attention — how did the leper know he was cleansed? On the same authority as that which convicted him of leprosy. As at first he was pronounced unclean by the priest, so now being cleansed, he is "pronounced clean." As at first, on the word of the priest, he took his place outside, so now on the word of the priest, he takes his place inside; in both cases it was the word of the priest. How important, how blessed is this! Many a soul perplexes itself from want of simply taking God at His word, which is the true source and spring of all known enjoyment, as it is written, "The God of hope fill you with all joy, and peace, in believing." And on the other hand many a soul is blinded and deceived, judging its state by its own apprehension of it or its own feelings, and not the complete ruin all are in, and the wonderful provision God has in love made in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to meet us where we are. Should any such eye fall on these pages, may it be opened to see the ruin and the Saviour; a "Saviour, and a great one," who died on the cross for sinners, even the chief, who by His death has made atonement, and has risen again from the dead and gone into heaven, the author of eternal salvation to all who look to Him. W. T. T.
"The Storm-cloud Behind"
A traveller on the great Atlantic is sure to meet with objects not seen elsewhere; it was so with one crossing that ocean who was quite unaccustomed to sea life, and whose concern, or indeed alarm, was awakened by beholding an expansive mass of angry-looking cloud, gathering together, as he thought, all its forces ere it burst upon them. As he walked the deck of the vessel, watching rather nervously this strange appearance, he was relieved in no small measure by one of the sailors, to whom such sights were familiar, and who quieted all his fears by telling him that the cloud was neither over them, nor before them, but behind them. "Sir," said the sailor, "that cloud has burst behind us."
It is just so at this present time in the history of souls: many a one needs similar intelligence, to quiet the rising fears of the heart. There is a very popular and wide-spread delusion on this subject, which it is well should be exposed. It is said by some, and thought by many, that sinners, being unable to meet the righteous claims of a Holy God, may take comfort when they are told that in mercy God is not now pressing His claim (as we would say). It is not denied that God has a righteous claim, which if not answered by man, will bring judgment upon him; but what is stated and thought by many is, that God has allowed, in compassion, His full claim to stand aside, as it were, giving sinners credit for doing their best. Now, nothing could be more false, or destructive of all peace and comfort to the soul; the best it can do is to postpone the evil day, like a man deeply sunk in debt, whose creditors are kind and patient, but who yet passes many weary days and sleepless nights, because the unmet charge stares him in the face. Such, reader, is not the good news of God proclaimed to sinners in the gospel; it is neither forbearance on God's part as to His claim upon you, nor your doing your best, to be placed, as it were, to your account; but it is, oh, wondrous good news! that God has in grace supplied an answer to His own righteous claim, and bestows that answer upon every sinner who believes in Christ. God Himself is the blessed source and spring of it all; it was He who gave His Son out of His bosom; it was He who sent "his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him;" that blessed One came down to earth that He might do the will of God: "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." While He lived and walked here, He did the will of God; when He by the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, He did the will of God; He was the only one who knew the extent of man's sin and alienation from God, and He dies on the cross to put it away; and He is the only one who knew what was in the heart of God toward poor lost sinners, and He comes down to manifest it. How blessed, the storm-cloud has burst and is behind me! Do you ask me how I know? — Well, gladly do I answer you. He on whom it did burst is now seated in glory, appears there in righteousness transcendent, showing the blood of His atonement as my title to be there: but oh, more blessed even yet! how can I speak of it! He has set God free in righteousness to act according to the love of His heart. God now brings the poor returning prodigal to His house, His home, His joy; spreads His feast there, bids him welcome there; and there for ever and for ever in the circle of His favour, in the circle of a Father's love, is the rest and peace and joy of the wanderer brought back.Yes, in the fulness of His grace,
"The Blood-sprinkled Lintel"
Exodus 12:22, 23.
The gospel is God's own answer to the question He Himself has raised about man and his sin. None could raise the question, and none could answer the question but Himself; the answer is Christ, given by God freely in His love, Christ lifted up upon the cross as a sacrifice for sins, Christ raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, and Christ ascended into the heavens.
Now Exodus 12 speaks about a lamb, whose blood, shed and sprinkled upon the houses of the children of Israel, secured them when God passed in judgment through the land of Egypt. My reader, the Lord Jesus Christ is the great substance, of which the lamb of Exodus 12 was only the shadow. What a blessed wonderful spring the soul gets, when it has believed that the Lamb whose blood must be shed as an atonement for sin is the only begotten Son of God, provided, given, sent by God into the world for this very purpose. As it is written, "in this was manifested the love of God toward us, in that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." There is one point of great value and importance in Exodus 12; everything is done under the hand of God, He provides all, so to speak, and then assures by His word — this is very blessed to know. The security of an Israelite in that night consisted in his being in a house whose lintel was marked with the blood of the appointed lamb previously shed in death; the sense of his security, or the known enjoyment of it, consisted in his simply believing God's testimony, "when I see the blood I will pass over you." I would say a little about the security. Nothing less than that mysterious mark on the lintel would suffice, and nothing more was required; the blood shed told of atonement made; "it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." (Lev. 17:11.) It is no question as to what an Israelite was, or what he felt; what God looked for as He passed through the land that night was the lintel sprinkled with the blood of the appointed lamb; wherever that was before His eyes, God was satisfied, and they were secure; "When I see the blood I will pass over you," proclaimed both one and the other. So it is now, reader; the security now consists in my having to do with Christ, who went down into death to put away sin, nothing less would meet our dreadful case than the blood-shedding of Christ, He bore the judgment in His own body on the cross, He gave up His life; in His death we can say, "Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other;" every righteous claim of God has been met by the death of Christ; all that was contrary to God has been for the believer put away for ever. How secure is the soul in such an answer!
Now, in order to bring this out more clearly, allow me to put a case. We will suppose an Israelite who has followed out in every particular the direction of God as to the lamb, and also as to the sprinkling of the blood upon the lintel; he retires into his house, and passes that terrible night in fear and anxiety. Whether he will be the next to fall under the judgment he knows not; if he dared, he would go outside the door of his house and satisfy himself by gazing on the blood, but this he cannot do, and follow out the direction of God, and so he passes a wretched night, comfortless and miserable. But I take another case of an Israelite who, equally with the former, has followed out the commands of God as to the lamb and its blood; he, having also sprinkled the lintel, retires in restful quiet, happy and assured: the thought of judgment awakens no alarm in his breast. Which of the two is safest? The latter, do you say? if so, the security does not consist alone in the blood being on the lintel. But do you not see that because in both cases the blood was there, both were equally safe, equally secure? Both were not equally happy, both were not equally certain of their security: and why? Simply because they did not equally credit the testimony or word of God. The blood outside made both equally secure, but the testimony of God, carried inside and believed, was needed to make both equally assured — when I say equally assured, I mean as far as any could be at that time. Thus, I trust, we have seen that testimony to our ruin as sinners is borne by the word of God equally with testimony to our safety, if we believe on Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. W. T. T.
"In His Hand"
Still'd each tremble, hush'd each murmur,
We, whose portion lieth here,
In His Hand, oh! holy refuge,
Where "love casteth out all fear."
What can hurt them, what can touch them?
Can the fierce wolf scatter now?
In His Hand who spoil'd the strong man,
His — to whom each knee must bow!
Better this than Israel's sheepfold
Wall'd and fenced around by law,
Pastures here, and peace and safety,
Joys that Israel, never saw.
God's own presence, sweet communion,
Better this than Canaan's land,
Need we earthly rules and barriers,
We, thus gather'd in His Hand?
In His Hand who laid His life down,
In His Hand who gave His Son;
Thus the wondrous mystery learning,
Gift and Giver both are One.
One their gracious purpose usward,
Christ but shows the heart of God,
Heart whose love was bound by justice,
Till the Son atoned with blood.
"Therefore doth His Father love Him;"
Give all glory to His Name,
For God's love can reach the sinner,
Since His justice smote the Lamb.
This the joy Christ set before Him
When He turn'd His face to go —
Willing victim to the death-scene;
Where He drain'd the cup of woe.
Spirit-taught we bow and worship
Abba Father, Saviour Lord,
In His Hand we learn to know them,
Heark'ning to the Shepherd's word.
No more stranger voices follow —
Ever-guided now by One,
In His Hand — so strong — so loving,
Till the pilgrimage be done.
Then the many-mansion'd dwelling;
Gates of pearl, and jasper wall,
Harps of gold for ever telling
How His Hand hath done it all. — O. R.
The First Word of the Risen Saviour
The disciples had known the Lord Jesus as the One who had for them the words of eternal life. They felt they could not go away from Him. "To whom shall we go, thou hast the words of eternal life?" but now He had left them to do a work for them — to give His life a ransom for many. What a thought! That is, God had it in His counsels before the world began, to give His Son to die for the world that rejected Him. And the Son (as the pure and spotless One) not only had the will to go through it all, but He was capable as a divine Person of being made God's Lamb, to deal with the whole question of sin. There was no veil to hide the wrath of God, no veil to hide what sin was in His sight. It was all brought out in the light of God. There was no avoiding of the full cup of wrath, no avoiding of the Father's will, and His will was to put away sin. Here was the immense question of sin, before God, answered in the blessed sinless One made sin — taking this place not only for us, but for God's glory; going into it to deal with sin according to the holiness and righteousness of God, He looked at sin without a veil, put Himself before God to be made sin, and drank the full cup of wrath! He puts away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, went under death as God's Lamb to deal with it all, to bear it all, to bear it all in His own Person — wholly alone in it — that work went on between God and His anointed, for man had no share in the work of His salvation, but the wickedness that nailed Him to the cross! It was all accomplished between God and Christ alone. Once in the end of the world He appeared to put away sin, when man's sin from the garden of Eden onward had been fully and distinctly brought out — his wilfulness and law-breaking, and rejection of Christ. Man had been fully tried, and his heart fully proved to be enmity to God. And now the stability of all things, from your individual soul up to the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, rests in this, that God hath obtained an eternal redemption for us! that the whole question of sin is eternally and perfectly settled, according to the holiness and righteousness of God, and Christ is raised from the dead according to the eternal immutable righteousness on which all is based, redemption, eternal glory, and the new heaven and new earth, there is nothing like the cross in this way; as a fact in eternal history, nothing at all like it — the centre of all God's thoughts and purposes as revealed in love. And as soon as the Lord has finished that work immutable in righteousness, raised from among the dead the public witness that God had accepted His work — His first thought is of His poor disciples. They were together, the doors shut for fear of the Jews, but Jesus comes into their midst, and what is His word to them? Peace! He brings them peace — the peace that He has made by the blood of His cross. It is as if He said to them, I have been there, dying on the cross, made sin for you, I have drunk that terrible cup of wrath for you, I have accomplished eternal salvation for you, and now there is peace for you, for you, (dear reader,) I bring it to you Myself — the peace that I have made — your sins all gone; because He bore them in His own body on the tree. The work is done, and the only thing He has to do is to bring them this peace; loving His own that were in the world, He comes to announce it to them. And, oh, let His word reach your conscience, and sink down and take root there. Did He deceive them when He said that there was peace with God for them? Did He know what He had made! Did He know that He had accomplished redemption? He who had come out from under death, from under that dreadful cup, into the full joy of His Father's countenance. Oh, well He knew it. It is the very thing that He sings praises for (see Psalm 22), for an accomplished redemption, and we have to sing with Him. We see this blessed One coming in perfect love to tell them what He knows He has wrought for them, and it is as He knows it, and that is an immense comfort for us, because we may say, I am afraid my poor wretched heart has not accepted Him enough; I do not value His work enough; and I have forgotten half the sins I have done. I do not see sin as God sees it; but that is not the ground of my peace: what gives me peace is the knowledge that God knows the full value of the work of Christ, that not a sin has escaped His eye. God has estimated it all. There is nothing of the horribleness of sin not known by Him. God has seen it all, and God has put it all away, and peace is made according to God's knowledge of sin, and according to God's putting of it away, that is the ground of my peace before Him; and when Christ says peace to me now, it is as sure as if He had judged me already on the great white throne. The offended Person has found satisfaction for my whole offence. Oh, if God is satisfied, I am! In the resurrection of Christ, God has put His seal upon Christ's accomplished work; now that all that concerned my simple state is gone, and done with before God — nothing remains but the carrying out of Divine love in righteousness. I have got peace, faith believes it, believes that God cannot see a spot on me unless He denies the work of Christ. This peace is an immense thing; the very title God is pleased to take is, God of peace, for we are reconciled to God. The Lord completes the position of those who are brought into this condition before God, He breathes on them, and says, receive ye the Holy Ghost. He gives the living power of life in us in order to enjoy it, and in order that we may know that we are in Him who is gone up to His Father, and now our Father, to His God, and now our God; and mark the place this life in Christ in glory sets us in, in the world which has rejected Him: as the Father has sent Him, so He sends us with forgiveness of sins into this poor world. Now I can turn round and tell you about remission of sins — because I have got it for myself. I echo this blessed testimony to the world. I have got a Saviour; I have got a divine life in Him; I have got it, I am not 'hoping' to get it, I have it all now in that risen Christ; I have drunk of the living water; I say to you, will you come and drink; Christ could say, come to ME, but I can say, whosoever thirsteth, come, I know that there is living water there. And now, have you such a possession of Christ, that you can go and say to the world, I have got what you have not a bit of; I have got a thing from Christ in glory? If not, you have not got the peace that God gives, that Christ made, and that Christ brings. * * * * *
Matt. 7:22, 23.
The above title would, no doubt, offend many an eye, to others it would appear quite out of place at the present time; the growing goodness of the age, the increase of religion among men is pleaded on every side as a reason for rejecting the hard thought of the world becoming more wicked every day and man in general on it more hardened and indifferent. It may appear harsh to some who read this paper to have it stated that Christ is left out of the religion, or so-called Christianity of the great bulk of professors. Christianity is a word used to signify that a man is neither a Jew, Turk, infidel, nor heretic, but without any sense of a soul really brought out of the world to God. In the popular use of the word, a man is said to be a good Christian though he has never believed on Jesus, has never known the forgiveness of his sins, has never known Christ. Then religion, too, is said to be the common portion of nearly all decent professors. They attend their place of worship on the Sabbath or Sunday, they receive the sacrament once a month, or twice a year; they give their money to spread the scriptures, or to convert the heathen, and they feel better for it all: yet are they unchanged, the very same in every respect; or, if differing from those whom they term profane persons, it is by no means to their own credit, being as "whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness." (Matt. 23:27.)
What can be more solemn than the words of the Lord Jesus, as His eye travelled over the wide world of profession? "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." How dreadful this word, for the die is cast, the doom is come! Let me be faithful and straightforward. Look around you at this moment, and what do you see? A great piece of hypocrisy being played by men, religion without reality, a noisy and a showy profession, by which souls are deceived and dragged down respectably and religiously to hell. This is that religion of which some one affirms, "that it has slain its ten thousands." Shall there then be no warning word? Shall we not beseech men to pause upon the brink of so terrible a precipice? Shall we not hold forth the word of truth? Away with such thoughts.
Reader, there are two words in scripture, and if they do not describe you, be assured your Christianity is Christless, and your religion vain — "born again" are the words. Have you been? "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again," are the words of Him who also said, "the Son of man must be lifted up." "MUST BE BORN AGAIN." Not must be religious, or must be moral, or must turn over a new leaf (as is said), or must mend your ways, but "must be born again." What a cutting, searching word. It sets man in his best state or worst state aside altogether; it brings in a new life, a new nature. There is necessity here, for ye must be born again; such necessity that "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
There are two grand reasons why ye must be born again. First, because nothing less would suit God, righteous, holy as He is.
Secondly, nothing less would meet the case of man, ruined and lost, in himself irreparably bad. But do you say, where am I to get this other life, this other nature of which I hear so much in these days? The very same scripture that shuts you out in your natural state, supplies the answer to your question. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so, must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Reader, soon all unreality will have passed away; soon will this day of empty profession be over. Where shall you be found then? Where are you now? W. T. T.
There is a Saviour in Glory
God has visited this world, has manifested Himself in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He came down from glory on this heavenly mission of making known to man all the grace and love that was in the heart of His Father.
He laid aside His glory, and took upon Himself the form of a man — the most gracious, the most accessible of men. "Never man spake like this man," His enemies confessed. He carried with Him that which poor lost man could get nowhere else. The only man that could ever stand upon this earth and say, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." What an announcement to make! He had more; He had life — eternal life for man, but man would not come unto Him that he might have this life — this everlasting life.
This blessed One was "hated without a cause." He was "the light of the world," and this did not suit man; for man "loved darkness rather than light, because his deeds were evil." Hence they did not rest until they had got rid of this Jesus, so that they might go on undisturbed in their own path of iniquity. A robber was preferable to Jesus the Son of God. Their cry was, "Away with him, crucify him." But the blessed God made this crowning act of man's hatred against Himself to be the only way of salvation; and where man made this blessed One a martyr, there God made Him to be a victim,; and the precious blood that flowed from the side of that crucified Christ gave God eternal satisfaction about sin. That precious blood was of such infinite value in God's sight that the sinner, be he who he may, that rests in the value of this blood to God, is cleansed from every stain. Thus, where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded. (Rom. 5:20, 21.)
But, dear reader, that blessed One that died upon the tree now sits upon the throne in glory! God raised Him from the dead, and has exalted Him, having declared that at the name of Jesus "every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
My desire in presenting this paper to you is to press home upon your soul the fact that there is a Saviour in glory. Reader, do you know Him there?
Have an interview with Him you MUST — either now in grace, or presently in judgment.
The dying thief had an interview with Him when He hung upon the cross.
Saul, the enemy of Jesus, had an interview with Him when He was in heavenly glory, — the same Jesus, but in different circumstances. The thief turns to the Saviour on the cross, owns his true condition, and asks to be remembered in the coming kingdom. The Saviour's answer to his cry was, "THIS DAY shalt thou be with me in paradise." Saul, on the other hand, on his way to Damascus, endeavouring to wipe out the memory of the name of Jesus from the earth, is met by that same Jesus in heavenly glory.
What a contrast between the two! the one full of hatred against Christ, the other full of grace towards Saul. The Saviour asks him — "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?"
Saul, tell Him WHY
Saul, in the light of that glory, has fallen to the ground, and exclaims, "Who art thou, Lord?" The answer is, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest." Not one word of reproof fell from the Saviour's lips. What a reception was this for Saul! His course on earth was changed. No longer the persecutor of the saints of God, but henceforth to be an ambassador for that Saviour here, and a preacher of Him as glad tidings among the nations. (Gal. 1:16.) He announces what that Saviour is in Himself as glad tidings to those around him.
And thus to you, dear reader, do I now declare not only what that Saviour has done, how that He has finished the work of salvation, that He has paid an adequate price for the salvation of all (1 Tim. 2), and that God is satisfied with that work which He accomplished on the cross, having raised Him up from among the dead; but I also declare unto you what He is Himself. Do you want rest, peace, righteousness, life? All are found in Christ in glory.
Will you then avail yourself of this great salvation by sheltering yourself under what He has done, and resting in what He is, instead of in what you can do, or in what you are? If you would rest in the presence of a holy God, it must be by resting entirely on what that Saviour has done, and in what that Saviour is.
The self-righteous Saul knew how unsuitable he was in himself in that glory. He knew, moreover, how suitable it was to that Saviour that was in it: and thus I no longer trust in myself, but make my boast in Christ Jesus.
One solemn word with you, dear reader, and I have done. Are you an enemy or a friend of Christ? The word is, "He that is not with me is against me.
To refuse present grace is to incur future judgment, and then there will be no mercy. "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory in the face of Jesus Christ." E. P. C.
Righteous in HimFather, Thy name I bless,
The Record of God
1 John 5:9, 11, 12.
There are few scriptures which contain more comforting testimony for anxious, troubled souls than the above; they present the very truth which can meet the poor burdened heart, writing bitter things against itself. Nothing can be more distinct than this fact, that the evidence of the soul's acceptance is outside of us altogether; nothing we can either do or feel is any ground of security or rest for our souls; what an unspeakable mercy and comfort it should be so! For, just reflect a moment; this day all might be favourable and bright around me — happy frames, sweet experiences, and the like, simply produced by our circumstances; then to-morrow, on the contrary, all is as dark as yesterday it was bright; coldness and deadness within, and all that I prized so much and valued as evidence has vanished in a night. What a state of destitution and misery am I now plunged into, in a moment too!
Reader, this is not a supposed case, it is a real and a common one; is it yours? I have heard of some one who formed his judgment of the sun by looking at it in a pool of water; now and then was the water moved and agitated, every breath of wind more or less troubled it, consequently this man thought the sun moved as often as it appeared to stand still; but as soon as he learned no longer to judge of the sun by the water on which it shone, then he discovered his mistake, and that the sun was ever the same — stedfast and fixed. Oh! how blessed for poor weak things like us to know that our security is in what God has done, and our consciousness of security, or certainty of it, in what God has said; this cannot be too often insisted on, or pressed upon souls — this alone can meet the rage and fury of Satan — this alone can silence the troubles and thoughts of the heart.
"Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself." (Luke 23:38, 39.)
The risen Saviour knew well what perplexed the heart, troubles and thoughts; how does He meet them? By turning the mind out on Himself, from themselves.
Let us look then a little at the testimony I have spoken of, and found in the scriptures given above.
First, then, we have "God hath given to us eternal life:" what a sentence that is! It begins with the giver, "God hath given;" it closes with the gift, "Eternal life;" and this, bear in mind, God's own witness, record, testimony. What is eternal life? Nothing less than the very life of the One who died on the cross as substitute for His people, and rose again from the dead; in His death He closed their history as children, not only of wrath, but of Adam; and in resurrection He became the Head of a new race, and as such communicates His own life; "He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (John 20:22.) So now of all who believe in Jesus, who receive the record, testimony, witness of God, it is true they have passed from death to life, they have Eternal Life — they are not in the flesh. So then under the first head or testimony we have God's record of Himself, His Son, His gift; the blessed giver God Himself — the source and spring of it all; His Son the Lord Jesus, the One in whom it is all made good, for it is in Him all that God bestows is found; and then His gift, Eternal Life.
Now the second testimony or record of God is found in verse 12, "He that hath the Son hath life." It is similar to that beautiful verse, the word of Christ Himself, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth in him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24.) Now observe in the first record which has been before us, God Himself, His Son, and His gift, were all presented; here in the second place, it is God's pledged word. God Himself affirms that he that believeth hath; God has given me testimony not only to the love that was in His heart towards me, but also to the fact that in believing in Christ I have present eternal life; faith hears Christ's word, believes the Father who sent His Son, possesses Christ, and has everlasting life. Do you not see how the eye of the soul is turned out on God, and on Christ, not in on self? and do you not see that it is the heart of God, the Son of God, the gift of God, and the word of God that are all the subject of testimony? Can you not trust such testimony rather than your feelings, frames, experiences, all of which are like the surface of yonder lake, agitated and swept by every wind, even in its gentlest whispers or its wildest fury? But there is something even beyond the comfort and satisfaction of my heart, and that is that I do not make God a liar; "he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." We receive in this world everything for the most part on testimony; when in ordinary conversation people say they cannot believe such and such a thing, it is because the testimony is deficient in some way, generally because of the character of the persons bearing testimony; and on the contrary we find no difficulty in giving credit to testimony from one who is trustworthy and reliable. "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater."
Despising and Perishing
Reader, have you received Christ? Have you been born again? If not, you have not life; you can never see the kingdom of God. This is a terribly solemn truth, and it behoves you to consider it. There are thousands around us who have been brought up religiously, and learned in their earliest years to lisp the name of Jesus; daily they pray to God, and read His word, but they have no life, they are dead. And what is to be the end of them? I must speak plainly here: — the end of all this is death, and judgment, and hell for ever. If you have not life in the risen Christ, it matters little what else you have, you are going down to an eternal hell as surely as God lives. These things are written not harshly, but in solemn earnest, in the hope that the Lord will use the word in warning to some who are thus deceived. God's sentence of death against sin, and the curse of the broken law rest upon you, and in Christ alone is there deliverance. The most perfect life of religiousness is of no avail here. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8); and you are "in the flesh," if you have not been born of the Spirit and are now in Christ. All your knowledge and your blessings tend but to increase your responsibility, and if, like Capernaum, you are raised to heaven by privilege, you shall be thrust down to hell. Oh! that man would consider these things! Why is it that you, who are shrewd enough in other things, are such fools here? You go on year after year with a carnal Christless religiousness, and refuse to look before you and see the end. God is warning you and beseeching you; but all to no avail. He has given up His only begotten Son to die a cruel shameful death, and bear His wrath against sin in order that you might have life; and what is it all to you? Have you ever wept one unselfish tear because of it? Oh! has your heart ever glowed with love to Him? Did you ever spend a single hour over His word with the longing desire of knowing what He has said as to how you may be saved? No, truly; but you pray to Him; you read His word; you are earnest, sincere, and live a moral religious life, and hope for salvation because of it as well as through the merits of Christ, forsooth! And when one tells you that the end of all such is eternal hell, you are ready to turn round upon God and say hard things of Him, as though you deserved better. He has no pleasure in your death: — He has life for you, and peace, and joy, and heaven, and glory, — all in Christ: and He presses His blessings upon you, and entreats you to have them. But what comes of it? You will still cling to your own religiousness, as if such filthy rags could be a fit covering for you in the presence of God. Oh! one cannot be satisfied to say soft and smooth things in such a case as this. All these things in which you trust will serve only to increase your condemnation if you die as you are, or if the Lord should come and find you as you are. For every time you have named the name of Jesus, God will bring you into judgment; for every time that you have ever opened the word that tells of life and love; for every appeal He has ever made to your conscience, or your heart; for every prayer you have ever prayed; for every ray of light that has ever entered your dark soul — stroke after stroke of the eternal wrath will fall upon you for ever when you are cast into the lake of fire, the long long home of the Christless soul.
Oh! be persuaded to pause and consider these things while there is yet time. What have you for eternity? "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha," — accursed in the day of the Lord. (1 Cor. 16:22.) And your heart tells you it is a stranger to love, a personal affection to Him, risen and glorified.
This is no part of your religion. What, then, is to be the end? A few more years, at most, of a heartless, Christless, religion; and then! then the thundercloud of wrath, that now hangs on the horizon, shall close in for ever on the blackness of darkness upon your soul. Satan, like a wily seducer, comes to you now with fair promises and false smiles; but when the willing dupe has become his victim, he will throw off the mask, and show himself to be the enemy of your soul, a liar and a murderer. God calls, but you refuse; He stretches out His hand, but you regard it not; but you set at nought all His counsel, and will none of His reproof. He beseeches you to be reconciled, but you turn your back upon Him. And when the end comes, and you are lost, damned, you will have yourself to blame; and if this be the end of a life of Christless morality and religion, what will be the end of a life of sin? Thus saith the Lord: —
"The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone — this is the second death." (Rev. 21:8.) But why should one write such terrible things as these, if there were no glad tidings of salvation? Blessed be God, He has sent us good news about His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God is love; and His love reached even to this sin-ruined world.
Though man despised and hated Him, He loved the world. But, while sin was unatoned for, God could deal with us only to condemn; and, therefore, when the fulness of the time was come, He sent His only begotten Son into the world; and it is a saying worthy of all acceptation, that He came to save sinners; not to condemn, but to save. He took sin upon Himself, and bore the sentence of death pronounced against us. He was made a curse for us, to redeem us from the curse of the law. And now, through the cross of Christ, there is life for the dead; salvation for the lost one; there is peace with God and glory through the Lord Jesus Christ. We have redemption through His blood; not our religion, but through His blood, the precious blood of Christ. Nothing can avail in this matter but DEATH, for it is death alone that can satisfy the righteous sentence of God against sin. If, as the eye rests upon these words, the heart yearns for a place to which it has been hitherto a stranger, and longs for something to satisfy the cravings, that may indeed be quenched, but never can be satisfied by the husks of the world's religion, or its pleasures, or its sins: — turn to the tenth chapter of Romans, and, for the first time, read the words as a message to your own soul from a living loving God, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Yes, it is for you, read it again.
"We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor. 5:20, 21.)
W. T. T.
The following solemn fact was some time ago related by one who could attest its truth. It is inserted here, with the earnest hope that any who read it may be warned by it not to resist the dealings of God with conscience. Man's way and wish seems to be to work upon the feelings; God's invariable way is through the conscience: —
A young person who had been a hearer of the truth from the lips of one recently brought himself to know it, was conscience smitten and arrested. She had deep convictions, she told her mother, and she, a woman of pride and fond of the world, determined as far as she could to hinder what she saw plainly enough in her child; for this purpose she set every kind of worldly trap and snare for her feet, and when the child would plead her unhappy state of soul with her mother, she made her think lightly of it, saying, religion was never intended to make people gloomy or morbid; that she must go into society, that she must enjoy herself, and the world around her. Accordingly, she did go into society; but it was only for a little, as she sickened and drew near to death. As she lay on her dying bed, she called her mother and said, "Mother, when I am dead, and in my coffin, when my coffin is put down into the grave, do not allow any tombstone to be placed over me; neither let there be any epitaph chiselled on my grave stone, but let me be simply buried. And when I am in my coffin, and covered up under the sod, and you are in this room, open that wardrobe, dear mother; and you will see my last ball dress, and when you look upon that dress, you will see the sign of your sin, and of my doom." Thus she died. Oh reader, be warned; be entreated to pause and reflect ere you say like Felix, "Go thy way for this time." Remember, TO-MORROW is the word by which Satan blinds and deceives.
W. T. T.
"Complete in Him"Now I live in resurrection,
Saved Now and for Ever
In Luke 23:39-46 is described the manner of God's grace to a thief on the cross. It is the great instance of the grace of God to a sinner; that of Saul of Tarsus is the greatest. The popular idea that it refers to a death-bed repentance is not correct; it is to show the grace of God, and what it does for a sinner in his most extreme state. Here is a thief cast out of the world, righteously put out according to law. He had transgressed grievously — his state could not be worse — the world could not endure him any longer. This is a lesson to many in the present day. Here is a man who is so incorrigible that there is no attempt to reform him, the only remedy is to put him to death. It is remarkable, while man feels in this way of a criminal who acts badly towards his fellow man, he has not got the sense in his soul, I have sinned against God, and have incurred His righteous judgment. When man finds his fellow is incorrigible, he says there is no help for it but to get rid of him — we must put him to death. It is right; the law of God sanctions it. God, in His righteousness, inflicts the same on man — a sinner. God said to man in the garden of Eden, "of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die:" that is, in my righteousness, if you act according to your own will in contradiction to my will, you must die. If you see a thief punished, you say it is just what he deserves. Why? Because he is incorrigibly bad. Now, you see how it is with God. If you set up a will contrary to His will you are incorrigible — you must die.
One knows in his heart that he is under the sentence of death — even a child is aware of that — no animal has the suspense of it but man. Animals can enjoy the earth, but the moment man is true to himself he loses his enjoyment. Learned men tell us the deepest thought is allied to melancholy. What a statement! Why? Because it has gone down to the root of things. Man has capacity for enjoyment, but a deep thought must be melancholy, because he sees his doom. People are not awakened to the fact that the life they have, as men, is under judgment. Adam did not adhere to the will of God, but set up his own will; his mind is alienated from God, and righteously he must die. And man has the sense in his soul that he must suffer judgment at the hand of God, and that he cannot meet it. What then? God comes in and meets it, and gives His Son to bear the judgment upon us. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Christ sheds His blood, the propitiation for our sins. He has taken upon Himself all the judgment that rests on me, hence he says (John 12:24), "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." Here is the thief on the cross; man is putting him out of the world, but man's judgment cannot go beyond this world. "Fear not them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do; but I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear him which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him." This is the distinction between what man can do, and what God can do. Here is man putting a criminal to death in righteousness, and grace bringing this sinner to heaven through the death of the Son of God. The thief dies, his legs are broken, not one bit of his temporal punishment is remitted, yet the Lord says to him, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise."
There are two sides to grace. They are both brought out in the same passage. (Luke 14.) Grace provides everything. "All things are ready." the doors are open — that is one side. The other is, Compel them to come in." It is God's doing; God makes all ready, and He compels. "He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters." I say, who sent the earthquake to the jailer? Was it to let out the apostle? Not merely, but to bring the jailer on his knees to learn salvation. Who sent the famine to the prodigal? Who comes with bright light to the soul of Saul of Tarsus, and flashes it in, in spite of all the force of Satan? Who was it that suddenly arrested a poor woman in the city of Nain, so that she says, Though I am a notorious sinner, Jesus is my Saviour? Where did that come from? The grace of God compelling her to come in. It is not only that all is ready, and all the doors open, and the message is sent forth, but you must come in and find out the things that are prepared. Christ, at the end of His course, effects the reversal of all the damage that Satan had done in Eden. Here is this man, a sinner not tolerated among men, deprived of his life — the dearest thing to a man. God's Son comes in and says, I bear the judgment, and he takes the man the world cannot tolerate in a new nature to the third heaven. "To-day shalt thou be with me." This is what Christ's death achieves for the sinner. When done with this scene, like the thief, you pass into a perfect, blessed state, into paradise with Christ. Now, if you do not believe that this is the grace of God to one still on earth, something must be imperfect in the way you see the righteousness brought in. If you think the way cannot be quite clear until you are dead yourself, then you do not see that you are as yet dead in the sight of God. If you are dead righteously, you cannot be regarded as alive righteously. You say, I am alive in myself. I admit it, but settle the question of God's righteousness. Was God righteous to give the thief association with His Son? Yes; because he was dead, and all was gone that had brought in the judgment. Then you do not believe that, in the eye of God, you are as dead as that man was. If you do not believe that God's righteousness is complete till you are dead, it must be imperfect as it stands. If I, a believer in Christ, am not as dead in the sight of God as ever I will be, God's righteousness is not complete. God says you are dead; you say, "I am a sinner every hour of the day." Quite true; but if you say God is not perfectly free to make you conscious of His salvation till you are in the grave, you call in question the righteousness of God. Why put it off till you are a corpse? Because you do not believe that judgment is complete till you are one. Now, God "hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin;" hence He says, "If one died for all, then were all dead, and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again." A believer has to do with a risen One. If all the judgment is not borne, there is not righteousness; if all is borne, then there is righteousness. I am dead with Christ. The apostle says, "ye are dead." There is no question about it. The moment I look at Christ risen I know I am "a new creature" in Him, breathing the peace of His life as distinctly by the Spirit as the thief did in the third heaven.
We do not get resurrection in Luke, but we get it in Romans 4:25. Christ was "delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God;" and hence, in chapter 8:2, "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." I am free; it is plain to any exercised conscience. God's Son not only bears the judgment, but it is complete. The life I live in the body shall pass away, but I breathe life in Christ distinctly by the Spirit of God. If I only find acceptance when I die, then judgment is not complete till I die. I say it is complete in the cross, if not so I am not justified: "He was raised again for our justification." (See Romans 5:1.) I get beyond Luke 23. Christ is a Man out of judgment. I had to do with a man under judgment, now I have God's Son out of judgment, and righteousness is imputed to me if I believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. I have to do with the God that raised Him, "being justified by faith." I am on new ground — resurrection ground — with Christ. There is nothing to offend God's eye there! Are you there? That is the point. Are you in the Man out of judgment? "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature." You were in the man who was under judgment, now you are by faith connected with the One who went under judgment, and has risen out of it — dead with Christ, and alive in Him.
You never have perfect peace till you see every atom of you has been judged in the cross. If every atom has been judged, where is the atom to rise against you? We are on an island; everything is perfect, God has judged everything in the cross of Christ. "We glory in tribulations." I am in a scene of sorrow, but I endure. The very roughness hardens me, and brings out patience. I have to do with God, and my very difficulties become opportunities for God to show His grace and mercy to me, "knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, ['Experience' means testing], and experience hope." I hope, I do not despair because of the pressure, "it maketh not ashamed." I fall back to the foundation of everything; hope is not at the bottom, but at the top. "And the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us."
"When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." That brings us back to the thief on the cross. "God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." The thief is an example; he dropped the thief-life and got another — an endless life, a perennial life — that never fails, never wearies; he got life in Christ. "To-day shalt thou be with me."
Now, will you, my reader, say "I do not want this great salvation. I will go to my domestic comforts, and turn my back on what God in His grace provided for sinners?" God sends forth the tidings of His grace, and will you say, "I refuse His offer"? J. B. S.
"It Behoved Christ to Suffer and to Rise"
There are two thoughts of immense moral power in these words, "one man should die . . . . that the whole nation perish not," — they bring before the heart the great truth of man's ruin and God's salvation in a striking way.
Caiaphas, the high priest (in this the unconscious mouth-piece of the Holy Ghost), gives expression to it in the above words: "It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people;" and as you read those words and ponder them, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ come to your mind, "ought not Christ to suffer?" — "it behoved Christ to suffer."
Let us now examine a little together, wherein consists this "ought not" — this divine moral necessity, if I may thus reverently speak.
First. It was because of what God in His own Being is, and ever was, a righteous, holy, sin-hating God; at the same time a gracious, merciful, long-suffering God, who would spare sinners; a God of love.
In the second place, it was because of what man was, and is, a self-willed, rebellious, sin-loving creature. God had made the world, and all was very good; last of all, He made man in His own image; placed him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it, surrounded him with the tokens of God's care, and restricted him from eating the fruit of one tree, viz., the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Here in this garden, where everything was a perpetual reminder of the interest and care of his Creator, man willingly believes the lie of Satan, harbours in his breast a slander against God, and, acting under its influence, sets up his own will; and in the exercise of it appropriates to himself what God under penalty had restricted. What a picture! the creature of the handiwork of God, in opposition to the will of his Creator, has acted for himself, and has forfeited the place of blessing in which God had placed him, and the life in which he was to enjoy the blessing given him there. He has subjected himself to the penalty which God has announced, and is driven out from the presence of God — a fallen man.
We now have man, the head of God's creation, outside of Eden, in the wide waste of this world, having a nature at variance with God, and with only a forfeited life between him and the judgment, which ends in being cast into the lake of fire! What a scene! What a desolation!
What now is to be done? On whose side would you say the first movement towards reconciliation should take place ? Of course on man's; because it was he who brought about this distance from God. It was man, therefore, that was bound in every way to repair the breach, which the following of his own will had introduced, between him and his Creator. Instead of this, from God Himself in His wondrous rich grace, super-abounding grace from God, the offended One, the first movement comes! He discloses that He desires not that the distance should continue; and as man would not, and still further cannot repair it, the blessed God undertakes to do so, and hence it becomes necessary that the divine requirements should be met, and the penalty which man had incurred should be borne. Hence the blessed God gave His Son, who was perfect and spotless, to be chargeable with His people's guilt; and He, the Lord Jesus Christ, bore the judgment, endured the penalty in grace, gave up His own life in order that the love of God, who gave Him to die, might travel out worldwide to all
Now we can understand the "ought not Christ to suffer, and enter into his glory?" The expediency that one man should die. What a penalty, and with what a price was it not paid! God's dear Son laying down His life for us: and more, that He might read out to us the heart of the living God! W. T. T.
"Caught Away, or Left Behind"
1 Thessalonians 4; 2 Thessalonians 2.
These are the words by which God is pleased to describe the condition of all who shall be alive when the Lord comes; for there will be a people positively alive on earth, some of whom shall be caught up or rapt away to meet the Lord in the air, and some of whom shall be left behind, to be deceived and destroyed, to believe a lie because they would not receive the love of the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness: words fail to describe the blessedness of the one or the terrible nature of the other.
In the 4th chapter of 1 Thessalonians we are told the order of the first, namely, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His own. This might happen at any moment, at most a little while, and "He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." Reader, I challenge your heart, are you ready? Can you say in truthfulness and honesty of soul, "Come, Lord Jesus"? I feel this is a searching matter for a Christian, and it ought to be; but if one, whose title is clear to say it, hesitates before using such words, with what a chill ought they to fall on the ears of the one who is not ready, and has no title whatever. When the Lord comes and takes away His own, the rest are left behind. What a thought that! To survive all that is worth living for is terrible indeed. To be an inhabitant of the world when Satan is allowed to put forth his man in unrestrained power will be the lot of all in Christendom who are found outside of Christ when He comes for His own. Listen to what is said of Satan's man, "whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved." Reader, should Christ come now, would that be your lot, your portion? Listen to what is said of the end of such: — "That they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." The blessed contrast is in those who have believed the gospel, the good news of God about His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and who, in consequence, are entitled to look for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, His coming, and our gathering together unto Him. It is said of the Thessalonian saints, that they "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven." Reader, have you?
W. T. T.
"Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain"Lamb of God! we bow before Thee.
The Wreck and the Island
Man in himself is born to die. He comes forth in bloom and freshness like a flower, to droop and wither away under the very influences which at first he successfully resists.
Man in his history is like a ship at sea, at first riding triumphantly over the waters in which he at last (be the voyage long or short) sinks and disappears! "Death hath passed on all men, for all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12.) "It is appointed unto men once to die" (Heb. 9:27), and however brightly or usefully man may pursue his course here, mastering the power under which eventually he will succumb; yet the time comes, when he must bow to the power of death. Man in his brightest day is but the ship in trim, with all her sails set; but it must become a wreck sooner or later; and the greater or grander the ship, the greater the wreck. The end of man must be wreck, for he is a sinner, and death is the wages of sin. Death is the judgment on man.
God so loved the world, that He sent His Son, who was not a man until He came here. He enters on this scene, born of woman, in order to bear the judgment resting on man. He went under the sea of death and judgment, — the very sea in which man is sinking, and rising out of it in the power of His own life, He is now the Island, for every one who believes in Him to land on. Believing in Him I leave the wreck, or the ship which is doomed to be a wreck, for the Island, and then, in a new region, I enjoy peace, and receive life in the Holy Ghost from the Lord Jesus Christ. If you do not believe in the Island, you continue on the wreck; but if you do — if you believe in Christ, who has risen out of death and judgment — you will abandon the man who is under judgment, and, like the thief on the cross (Luke 23:41), you will say, and I indeed justly (I, the man — the wreck), I receive in condemnation the due reward . . . . but this man (Christ) hath done nothing amiss. I leave the wreck for the Island.
"This man" is the one for me for evermore, my life and eternal portion. J. B. S.
"There is nothing like the cross. It is the meeting of the perfect sin of man with the perfect love of God: sin risen up to its highest point of evil, and gone, put away, and lost in its own worst act. God is above man even in the height of his sin — not in allowing it, but in putting it away by Christ dying for it in love. The soldier's insulting spear, the witness if not the instrument of death, was answered by the blood and water which expiated and purified from the blow which brought it out." J. N. D.
"A Feast of Fat Things"
In verses 7-12 of this chapter the Lord exposes man; whether it was the invited guest, or the inviting host, they were alike marked by a feature common to both, namely, self-seeking. This has been the character of man from the very first, and it will characterise man as such to the very end. Is it not a comfort to your soul to turn away from such a picture to the blessed contrast which these words afford! "when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:" is not that a short and simple statement of what the blessed God has done in the gospel of His Son, the Lord Jesus? The gospel or good news of God always makes God prominent; those two words in verse 13 "make" and "call," declare to us what He, and He alone could do — they also drew forth from some one present the expression, "blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God," which words gave an opportunity to the Lord, in a parable, to set forth what was in the heart of God.
First. — The supper which God made was an expression of His heart — of Himself; in all the freeness of His love He makes it, and in all the largeness of His heart it is a great supper. If I think of what it cost the blessed God to spread this feast, who can say how vast it was? If I think of the supper itself, who can measure its greatness? Have you, my reader, ever thought of this? the blessed God purposed in His heart, and in righteousness performed it — unasked, unsought, He Himself would spread the feast; and that He may do it in a way worthy of Himself, He gives up His only begotten Son to come down and here to taste death and judgment, the whole righteous indignation of God against sin, in order that God might have His way of love. The barriers which man's sin had set up between himself and God, God undertakes to remove at cost to Himself, in order that He may bring poor lost man (in a new condition and in a new life) into the full circle of His favour, of His love. Can anything be more wonderful, can anything equal it? His Son, the Lord Jesus, thus given and sent forth, comes, and in this world where God had shown His interest in man, but where man displayed his disregard of God and dishonoured Him, He, that blessed One, glorified God, as I have said, goes in grace under the waves of death and judgment, and establishes God's righteousness in order that He may declare God's love.
Secondly. — We have the estimate which man forms of all this — the manner in which he treats this unmatched grace of God. Man has no heart for it; the things of earth are chosen in preference to the supper of God. What a picture of man! is it a picture of you, my reader? All that is here has its place and interest, but what the blessed God has provided, and at cost, man has no desire for it. And here do you not see how that things here have the tendency to turn the heart away from Christ? It is not that things are wrong in themselves; all that are here pleaded as having a prior claim on man are not unlawful but lawful things — but their tendency is to make man refuse God's supper. (See Deut. 8:7-20.)
Lastly. — The love which spread the feast will also bring in the guests, will compel them to come in; many and varied are the ways by which this is effected, but what the heart of God purposes, the hand of God accomplishes, His right hand of power is the servant of His love. It may be an earthquake, as with the jailer at Philippi; or light from heaven above the brightness of the sun flashed into the heart, as with the persecutor on his mission of death; yet they both come from the same blessed source, from Him who awakens fear in the heart, and then takes it out of it; from Him who gives the sense of need, in order that He may bring the soul into a region where need is unknown; from Him who will have His house filled with a company who shall be eternally debtors to the grace which not only provided such a feast for them, the full circle of the joys of God, the fatted calf, but which also sought them out in the highways and hedges, poor and maimed, and halt and blind. Oh, blessed grace that would take no refusal, but compelled them to come in.
Not half His love can I express,
Yet Lord with joy my lips confess —
This blessed portion I possess,
O Lamb of God, in Thee.
Thy precious name it is I bear,
In Thee I am to God brought near,
And all the Father's love I share,
O Lamb of God, in Thee. — W. T. T.
Perfected for Ever
In the 9th chapter (the previous one) is set forth, unfolded, the manner in which sins are put away, by the one offering of Jesus Christ; whereas in this chapter, the subject is, how this is applied to the conscience, so purging it, that no dread of God's judging because of sins any longer remains — so full, perfect, and sufficient is Christ's offering, that by Him all who believe are not only justified from all things, but are entitled to be within the holiest, and to know it. Could anything be more wonderful or excellent? Within the veil, where of old only one man, of one tribe, of one nation, on one day of the year could enter; there, too, not by sufferance, but in right and title, and suited for such a place, having a conscience so purged that it is fit for the presence of God. I may just observe in passing, that the Hebrews shows the twofold position of a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. As regards heaven, he is, as in this chapter, within the holiest now; as regards this world, his place is outside the camp, as in chapter 13. On this latter I do not now enlarge, it does not come within my present purpose.
Let us look a little at the foundation of this great salvation. — First, as we have it in verse 10, "By the which, will we are sanctified." God willed not, and had no pleasure in the death of a sinner, nor had He pleasure in the sacrifices offered by the law, which could never make the worshipper perfect. In these repeated sacrifices there was a remembrance of sin every year, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins, wherefore when he cometh into the world he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure [which are offered by the law], then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God" — thus we are let into the secrets that passed between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world. It was the will of God, and the Son sets Himself to do that will: "a body hast thou prepared me." Oh, how different from the natural conceptions of God! how eclipsed, even the very best thoughts about His character and love! He willed it, and what His heart conceived, the Son of His love will undertake to accomplish. Will you, my reader, say what are your thoughts about God? Who ever could have stooped so low, in a love that removed all that hindered its expression out of the way, at the cost of all that was dear to itself? Such then was His will, which is the great source and spring of this wonderful display of grace. Second, we have the Person and work by which it has been accomplished. The Person, [the Lord Jesus, the Eternal Son of God; He it was who took a body prepared for Him by God, and in it glorified His Father, as well as established a righteous ground upon which God can be "just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Listen to His own words, "therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again. I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." He was the one who shed His blood, the righteousness of God demanded the blood of a victim perfect and excellent. Sin could be put away by nothing less, and for the purging of the conscience there was wanted nothing more. He it was who by the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God — (as He alone could) — and now that very same righteousness of God raises Him up from the dead, from the very death wherein He glorified God, and sets Him in glory, and likewise rends the veil from the top to the bottom! Could anything be more wonderful! "This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God . . . . for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." This one offering accomplished what the blood of bulls and of goats, shed from the beginning of the world, could never do; this one offering needed no repetition, so there remaineth no more offering for sin.
Lastly, we have the way by which it is known and enjoyed in those words, "whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us . . . . their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." Reader, have you the knowledge and enjoyment of this? could there be anything equal to the blessed certainty in the soul, founded on God's will, Christ's offering, and the Holy Ghost's testimony? The Holy Ghost could not have come down until Jesus was glorified; but Christ being glorified out of the very judgment by which He for ever put away sin — the Holy Ghost comes down. Wherever I look, I see infinite power, and infinite love — the love that gave Christ, and brought Him down to the grave, and the power that raised Him up and set Him at the right hand of glory. W. T. T.
"Life or Judgment"
The Lord Jesus Christ is set forth in these scriptures as the One who gives life and judgment. He occupies that position in respect to man as such, that every child of Adam must receive from Him one or other. The fullest and most blessed testimony had been given to the fact that in Him was life, and the condemnation of men consisted in this, that they would not come to Him that they might have life. That He is despised and refused, is even now the condemnation where the name of Christ is named. Man was in death, but judgment was not yet executed. It is the same now. But whenever a person has listened to Christ's voice, and owned the Father in sending Him, he hath everlasting life; he is passed from death unto life. Here is the escape; and here begins all the exercises of holy affections towards God. A child cannot love its parents before it is born, but it does love long before it can express it. There is life and love before there is intellectual explanation. Here is the difference between law and gospel. Law sets a man to do before he gets life, whilst christian holiness and affections flow from the fact of having life. We get life first, and then begin to walk. Christ is the life-giver to His people: first to soul, and then to body. The Son comes forth from the Father, dies, and then communicates His life. That into which life so communicated brings us is immense, namely, all the Father's purposes in the Son. But the link to the soul is as simple as possible. What is the effect? Why, that Christ becomes everything. There is a distinction between judgment and life. Now, Christ gives life. When He comes as a judge, He does not give life; He comes then for judgment. There is no confusion or mingling of the two. If judgment comes in before grace has given life, no man can stand it. (See Ps. 143:2.) Christ now gives life in grace, then He will exercise judgment. Man might have continued in paradise, but he did not, he gave ear to Satan, exalted himself as God, followed his own lust and was disobedient, and consequently he first flies away from God, and then is judicially driven away. Man, whilst in enjoyment of blessing, trusts Satan. The suggestion of the devil was, "ye shall be as gods," and God said, "the man is become as one of us." Satan can tell the truth if it subserve sin. If we have the truth, nothing can touch us; but Satan can tell a great deal of truth if he can deceive by it. Here Satan did not tell the consequences of their eating. The first Adam listened, and he came by the ways of Satan to know good and evil; but it was by disobedience, and he continued not with God. Thus lust worked, disobedience followed, and consequently exclusion from God's presence.
Until Christ actually came, sin and Satan's power over man's heart is revealed throughout the word; for being a sinner he was driven out of paradise; but instead of becoming better by this judgment, Cain kills his brother. Then comes the flood: the world, save eight persons, is destroyed; yet afterwards they are as bad as ever. Noah gets intoxicated, and Ham dishonours his father. After this, idolatry enters. In the same way afterwards, the whole history of the children of Israel as a nation is stamped with this truth, that the principle of the heart was wrong; nay more, the nearer a man is to God externally the worse he is, unless there is a godly principle — that is, if the soul has not living fellowship with God. And how awfully can conscience deceive itself! The chief priests took the silver pieces and said, it is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood (Matt. 27:6), but there was no scruple about giving the money which was to buy it. They were exact about external ceremonial points, but callous as to moral pravity.
But grace has risen over the whole state of man; however bad man may have been proved to be, the Son of man comes down in grace. But here we find the final proof of the evil principle which governs his heart put to the test by the ways of God towards him. His testimony is rejected: "ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." What is the consequence? "another shall come in his own name; him ye will receive." Here is a new form of evil. Man becomes an adversary. Man shall set himself up, and shall be received because he comes in his own name. It is the same principle as in the beginning of the world, only it is after Christ has appeared, so as to be without excuse or hope. Then man exalted himself to be as God to act after his own will, but he was really the tool of Satan. And the same thing will happen again, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.
Previous to this open manifestation, Satan introduces himself by a form of godliness. He does not show himself all at once. He would introduce all that would lead away from the simplicity of reliance upon the death of Christ and so ensnare.
How are we to detect all this? First, the believer must be set in heaven, not in body but in spirit, in the presence of God Himself. It was not so with the Jew. God was, so to speak, not then revealed in His full estimate of good and evil; but now the Holiest of all is open. The veil is rent. "The true light now shineth." There is nothing between us and God. Nothing will do that cannot stand in the light of His holiness. There were many things before which God did not approve, but which he permitted (see Mark 10:5), but when Christ died, the full light of God was revealed. In Him divine goodness made its brightest exhibition in the world, displaying itself in all grace. The death of Christ was the expression of man's deliberate hatred to God. The full evil of the world and the full grace of God both came out at the cross; here God's perfect love was shown. The case of man before God since the death and resurrection of Christ, is, that if man stand before God at all, he must stand in the full light of His holiness. It shone out in the absolute putting away of sin, and that by the worst act of man's sin. Trusting to the perfect work of Christ, the more the searching eye of God rests upon me, the more does He discover the perfect value of the blood of Christ. The clearer the light, the more it is to show that not a spot is on me. He sees the efficacy of the blood of His own provided Lamb — His own Son — in putting sin away. The same light that detects it, manifests its being utterly put away, yea, has burst forth and shone in the putting of it away. J. N. D.
A Saviour in Glory
What wondrous tale of love and grace,
Faith readeth in the Saviour's face
Enthroned in glory now!
Things hidden from the curious ear
That hung upon His words down here,
Shine there upon His brow.
Yea, blessed One, we see Thee there,
The Victor's crown is resting where
Once press'd the crown of thorn;
Centre and Sun of heaven art Thou,
Who once beneath its wrath did bow,
God's wrath, and human scorn.
'Tis joy to know Thy travail done
Rememb'ring all Thy blood hath won
In righteousness divine,
Thy happy saints look up and praise,
Words fail us fitting song to raise,
For such a love as Thine.
But we can dwell within the bright
Unhinder'd cloudless glory light,
That shineth down from God,
And call to fellow-sinners round
To taste the blessing we have found —
Fruit of that toil and blood.
Oh! 'tis a wondrous blessed tale
That breaks upon earth's trouble wail,
Points rebel souls to heaven:
Tells them the King upon His throne
Loves them — can have them for His own
In righteousness forgiven.
Then tell the wonder through the earth
In homes of sorrow, halls of mirth,
A Saviour in the glory —
Yea, sound it in the deaden'd ears
Of travellers through this vale of tears,
That men may hear the story.
"Who is on Our Side — Who?"
In the ward of a city hospital lay a young man, whose emaciated form and pallidly-worn face spoke of days and months of suffering. Yet there was a peaceful, quiet, calm expression in the features of this child of pain. As the hour of release drew near — for death was evidently at hand — the question was put, What about your peace? Without the slightest hesitation, the answer came from the lips that were soon to be hushed in the silence of death, "Oh, sir, I have got peace; sure God is for me." It often struck me since how significant was such testimony from one who did not seem to have the least joy — indeed, he often said that perpetual suffering left him bereft of everything but his peace. It is a grand point, dear reader, to have the feet on such ground. "God is for me" — and, indeed, where redemption is fully underneath the soul, what other conclusion can we arrive at? It is the grand conclusion of the doctrine of the Epistle to the Romans. "If [or since] God be for us, who can be against us?" What do I see in God's giving His Son? I see God for me. What do I see in God's forsaking Christ? (Why hast Thou forsaken Me?) I see God for me. What do I hear in that cry, "My God, my God"? I hear the words — God is for me; and how plainly I see it and hear it in Him, who went down into the judgment, endured the whole of divine wrath against sin, rose again, the Head of a new creation, and announces that peace which He had made in His cross, in those words, "Peace be unto you." It is a wonderful rest to the heart to find out after all our natural misgivings, after all Satan's lies, God is for us; it is a tower of strength which is invincible; it is a fortress which never yet was taken. "God for us." Reader, do you hesitate about it? Do you question it? Listen to how God Himself pleads the truth of it with you: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" — it is a simple, undeniable, convincing fact. "He spared not his own Son." Do you remember the scene of Genesis 22, where the faith of Abraham is tested, and rises to the claims and demands of God? Do you remember how every word expressing the demand of God upon him, must have penetrated to the quick the soul of the Father? "Take now thy son," not only so, but "thine only son Isaac," and not only so, "but whom thou lovest." As if God had said, I ask you to break the tenderest link, the dearest tie and bond you have, destroy your connection with the promise (in Isaac shall thy seed be called). And do you remember what the testimony of God from heaven was concerning the faith that rose triumphant above everything to God Himself? "Now I know," says God, "thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me." And, reader, has not that same God put like words into your mouth? For standing on the resurrection side of the cross, with death, judgment, and hell behind you, gazing by faith on Him who once hung bearing the judgment on that cross, on Him who there, by His death, not only established divine righteousness, but also the ground of relationship with His Father, now our Father — I say do not these words spring up from the moved depths of your soul: now I know God is for me, seeing He has not withheld His Son, His only Son, from me? W. T. T.
The Lord Jesus in Moses, the Prophets, and all the Scriptures
How blessed to have Himself thus brought before the soul, and that, too, by Himself! What a scene the above must have been, the Lord Jesus showing Himself in Moses, all the prophets, and the scriptures! Is not the Holy Ghost here for this very purpose now? Come, then, aside for a little from the vain strife and contentions of this hour, and see if He will not recall scattered thoughts and confused minds from all else, and present an object that is worthy — oh, how worthy! — of our entire occupation, adoration, and praise. The Lord help us while we search the scriptures for "the things concerning himself."
It is impossible not to observe the prominence which that one word Himself has all through scripture: for instance, if I think of the cross, and all connected with it; of the love of God, the righteousness of God, or of that which necessitated the death of the Son of God; if a fallen guilty rebel like man was ever to be reconciled and saved, how do I find it brought before me? Is it not the presentation of that blessed One Himself, whose love carried Him into death, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death? and so it is that we read such words as "who gave himself for our sins." (Gal. 1:4.)
"Gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20.)
"Who gave himself a ransom for all." (1 Tim. 2:6.)
"When he had by himself purged our sins." (Heb. 1:3.)
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree . . . . by whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter 2:24.) Do you not observe how Himself is the centre of it all? Oh, how blessedly special and particular the Spirit of God is! — it is not the benefit, but the blessed Benefactor Himself; it is "His own self," "His own body," "His stripes!" What language most suits such as you and me in the presence of Himself so presented? Is it not "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing?"
Again: If I think of the resurrection, and all connected therewith and proclaimed thereby, the perfection of the atoning work of Himself, and the proclaimed vindication of righteousness established in the cross of Himself, how do I find it brought before me? It is the Person still and not the fact. "He is not here, for he is risen." (Matt. 28:6.)
"The Lord is risen indeed." (Luke 24:34.)
"Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again." (Rom. 8:34.)
"Now is Christ risen from the dead." (1 Cor. 15:20.) "Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God." (1 Peter 1:21.) Such is the way Himself risen from the dead is presented in the word of God; but look how the Lord Jesus announces this wondrous fact to His disciples. To them His death had been as the blighting of every hope and the scattering of every prospect; if in His death their hopes had died, they buried them in His grave, never, as they thought, to rise again; and when tidings of His being risen reached them, carried by the women who visited the sepulchre very early in the morning, the first day of the week, it seemed to the disciples as idle tales, and they believed them not; consequently when He Himself, the risen One, appears, fear and terror seize their hearts: resurrection they may have treated as an idle tale, but now the One who is the resurrection is before them. What a subject! Oh, the grace, the tenderness of the Lord Jesus! How does He reassure their hearts? How does He restore confidence? "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself." It is Himself again; "He showed them his hands and his feet," and joy takes the place of fear and dismay. Is that all? Is it only joy? "They worshipped him with great joy." (Luke 24:52.) But now observe, further, He has gone away from earth — "He is not here;" what a blank! Alas, that it is not more felt and realised! We are here in a hostile scene, amid the descendants of those who crucified as well as themselves rejecters of Himself: has He left us orphans? Do we not know that if faith follows Him into the heavens, and beholds Him highly exalted there, faith also follows the Holy Ghost sent forth from the heavens, to connect us here with Himself there in glory? Do I call those who are united by the Holy Ghost to Christ in glory, orphans? Do I call them for whom Himself is now preparing a place in the heavens, orphans? And is that orphanage whose prospect is this: "I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also? "But do you not observe that it is Himself that is all? "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." (2 Cor. 9:15.) W. T. T.
The Lord hath Triumphed GloriouslyOn resurrection ground I stand,
"God was in Christ"
2 Corinthians 5.
There are two great aspects of the gospel in this chapter, first, That to which we are called, and for which we are made fit; second, The testimony God has brought out of sin in us, and Christ's work meeting it. It is good to apprehend what the calling of God is, in order to know what is needed to be in it. There is no reconciliation of the old thing as such, but complete reconciliation in the new man. The judgment of man is pronounced, "now is the judgment of this world." God's dealings with man in the flesh are over, the flesh is set aside for ever. In the new state of things brought in by Christ in resurrection, "all things are of God." As to the body we are not in it yet, therefore it is good to be "absent from the body and present with the Lord." The moment we get hold of our calling "to his kingdom and glory" (1 Thess. 2:12), we are brought into the presence of God, He is also enabling the soul to apprehend the glory. It sees that a work entirely of God must be done in order that man may enter glory. Could you put yourself into Christ's glory? "He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God." The presence of God revealed to the soul, gives true thorough conviction of sin. It does not mind what man thinks, because it knows what God thinks. Sin is a shameful thing, but the presence of God produces thoughts that are beyond shame. The moment the soul is before God, it hates, judges sin, cannot think of hiding it, would rather be in truth before God" there is truth in the inward parts; "shame before man leads to the concealment of sin. God's true light manifests everything, but when the heart is set right, it takes God's side against sin — there is forgiveness; all is right when looking at what we are in the presence of God. We are called to "God's kingdom and glory" to be conformed to the image of His Son. We have a life; divine glory belongs to that life. It is God that justifies. He says that is right in my eyes, God Himself pronounces. That is what I want; this full blessed justification connects itself with glory: "Whom he justified them he also glorified." "We wait for the hope of righteousness." (Gal. 5:5.) This is what God is calling us into in Christ. That which is announced in the gospel is Christ as man is in divine glory. It is "the gospel of the glory of Christ." That has been done which has put man into the glory of God. This new thing is man, the centre of all the glory of God. It will be accomplished of course in Christ by-and-by, "that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth" — or as it is expressed in Revelation, "the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." It is to this glory of Christ we are called. It shines in upon the soul. Are you fit for this glory? If not, what are you fit for? You can't stay here on earth for ever. Where are you going? If not into the light it must be into the darkness, that is opposite to it. There is no medium. We have this in the parable of the king's son — Jesus had spoken of seeking fruit before; now He is speaking of grace that seeks nothing, it is a feast prepared. Those bidden are from the highways and hedges, and no matter what they were before, but they must have the wedding garment. The prodigal must have the best robe to enter the house — he must be suited to the house. Have you, my reader, got that? We see what the calling is; can you say, "I have got what is fit for the glory I am going into"?
You may be getting it, the Lord leading you into it, but without it what are you fit for? you must either be outside or with the wedding garment inside. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." Did He not suit Himself to all to win their hearts? He came with the invitation to turn back to God; but no — they would not: for His love He got hatred — terrible witness of man's entire ruin — he is dead: alive indeed for himself and for his fellow-men, but there is no movement of his heart toward God. "He came to his own and his own received him not." Yet in Christ there is perfect love — no reproach. Paul saw the terribleness of the judgment and set about to persuade men. The love of Christ is still pressing upon men the truth that we are dead: the link between man and God is broken and cannot be formed again. Does the cross say, "Christ had set the world right"? "One died for all," unspeakable love, "then were all dead." Has your soul been brought to the conviction, "that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing"?
Could you say you would not have put Christ to death? Could you say, "He would not have died for me, He might have helped me, purified me"? If not, then you must say, "I am dead, lost, I have no link in heart with God!" The old creation is a judged condemned thing — you as children of Adam belong to it; the question is, whether you get out of it? Man has emancipated himself from God; what infidelity does, is, justify and proclaim the fact: set up and cultivate man's will. Cain began this world without God. He went and built a city and called it by his son's name. They had instruments of music artificers there — all to make the world a pleasant place without God; and that is what man is doing still. He says it is with the faculties God has given — true: but what is the moral state of man's heart? Is he not away from God? Jesus came "to seek and to save that which was lost." I do not ask whether you recognise yourself as wicked, but whether you see yourself to be lost — dead? By nature we reject Christ, all our thoughts cluster round self. We prefer pleasure — everything in the world, our own will — to Christ. This is the condition of all naturally, was the condition of every one of us, but the One who was not dead, who was acceptable to God, the only One who could be, who was made sin for us. He stood in our place. He, the Holy Blessed One, was made sin. The quickening power of God shows us sin, but we see the whole thing closed on the cross. I see what flesh is, it crucified Christ — but I am not in it any longer, I belong to the new creation; I am in Christ, who is my righteousness, and gives me the title to enter in. We find the calling into God's kingdom and glory. We see the veil rent, and Christ is within as man, and in getting there, He has put away all that we were in the flesh. We have to contend with the flesh daily as an enemy, but as to our standing before God it is ended. In Christ we have entered into the new place: "you hath he reconciled." (Col. 1:21.) There is not a thing left between me and God. We are brought into the glory of God. We wait for it indeed as to our bodies, and He has given us the earnest of the Spirit. We have the reconciliation — reconciliation to what? to God. He did it according to what God is, and we must judge sin according to what God is. When do we know it? now by faith; but we cannot receive it, till we have judged darkness to be darkness. God says, "where is My Son?" The world must plead guilty of His death; it saw no beauty in Christ, and now prefers pleasure, dress, money, science, anything to Him. I may have to learn a great deal, to go through much conflict, but if I belong to Christ, I am reconciled to God. "The love of Christ constraineth us" — is the ground of all our walk. You may have been living to yourself; it may have been very decently, none of what the world calls great sins, but there are plenty of decent enemies of God, and will reputation stand in the judgment? A Christian cannot live to himself in purpose, but are you living to yourself in practice ? You may say you are occupied in innocent things, but nothing can be innocent away from God. Have you judged yourself as belonging to a world that has rejected Christ? We have to leave it in detail — the flesh continually showing itself in unexpected ways. But God has condemned sin in the flesh. He forgives sins, but the state He has condemned, not forgiven. Have you known Him, made sin and yourself the righteousness of God in Him? Can you say, I am reconciled to God, brought back to Him? Can you say, I am glad to know all about my sin, "search me O Lord, and try my heart?" J. N. D.
"The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ"
These verses bring the cross pointedly before the soul. Many have read them and have never seen it; many read them still and do not see it. There are two new facts found here, which the cross and the cross alone can explain. The glory of God and the inability of man on earth even to look on it are old facts; a man in the glory of God, there too as alive out of death, the death by which He glorified God and made atonement for sin, and a man on earth having in consequence a title and a capacity to look at it steadfastly, are the new things found here. If we turn for a little to Isaiah 6 there the glory of God carried terror and conviction and self-judgment into the breast of a real prophet of God, verse 5. "Woe is me for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." As if he said, prophet and people are exposed before Him, and I have no standing ground; and because of what he is, a provision is made as in verses 6, 7 . . . . Again the same with Ezekiel, as he tells us in chapter 1 of his prophecy, and after describing it says, in verse 28 — "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake." There is no sense of a title whatever, he falls down on his face, he cannot stand, there is no place for him to stand on, therefore his falling on his face only expresses his moral standing or condition. I turn to Daniel and I find the same with him, "a man greatly beloved" as he was, yet when he saw, he tells us, "there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words; and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And behold an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees, and upon the palms of my hands." (Chap. 10:7-9.)
Is not this all very striking? Each of these servants of God, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, in themselves declaring their unfitness, as well as their sense of it, when in the presence of the glory of God; and let me draw especial attention to this one point, with each and all of them, it is not a question for an instant of what they had done, but of what they were, and this as told out to themselves by the glory of God.
Now, in striking contrast with all this, I find in Acts 7 that Stephen, not overtaken or surprised by the glory of God, so that he falls on his face, and says, "woe is me," but full of the Holy Ghost, he himself looks up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; there is no fear or terror, either with regard to what he sees in heaven, or to what is going on round about him on earth! What a wonderful sight, a poor weak lonely man as he is, able to look steadfastly at the glory of God, and able patiently to endure the murderous hatred of men. Will you, my reader, say wherein consists Stephen's power as compared with the inability of the prophets of old? One word will answer the question, namely, the CROSS — that Jesus, whom Stephen saw in the glory of God, had on the cross borne all the wrath of God against sin, and had so fully and perfectly glorified God, that God had glorified Him; Himself had said so, "If God be glorified in him, God shall glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him." (John 13:32.) And scripture now bears testimony to the fact, namely, "raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father." (Rom. 6:4.) . . . . "God who raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory." (1 Peter 1:21.) Stephen sees in the glory of God then, his Saviour; He, that same Blessed One, who had been on the cross bearing the judgment, and in that hour had been forsaken of God, is now seen by Stephen in the glory of God; the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, was that by which Stephen had a righteous title to look at, what could but repel previous to the death of Christ; and it was from Jesus glorified, that blessed Spirit came down, who now turned Stephen's eye up. Such then is the divine fulness of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. He who once was there crucified by man now lives in power, glorified out of the place He took as the substitute of His people, and they have in virtue of His death a righteous title, and through the Holy Ghost a power to look up steadfastly into heaven.
"The Conscience and the Heart"
How the Lord shows in John 4, that conscience is the inlet to intelligence in divine things! and thus the heart becomes engaged. Rejected and driven out from Judea, He sat weary on the well of Sychar. A woman lonely (it was not the hour when women go forth to draw water) and weary with sin, evidently a strong and ardent nature that had sought happiness with eager pursuit, and sunk through it into sin, and had not found rest to her spirit (how many such there are in the world!) dragged on a life of toil, and in the midst of it, thought sometimes on Gerizim and Jerusalem, and knew there was a Messiah to come. There might be happiness and rest somewhere; she had none. Toil and weariness she had, and the last, evidently in spirit as well as body. Jesus had toil and weariness too, but through love, not through sin, save the sin of others, and this could not weary love, and He knew where rest was — He was it. The Son of God, the judge of all, had, humanly speaking, put Himself in a position where He was debtor to this woman for a drink of cold water. But He soon draws her out; He speaks of the gift of God, of a well of water springing up into everlasting life. All was dark in the Samaritan woman's mind. She moved in the circle of her own weariness; thus she felt the fruit of her sin and toil after happiness, and with all the moving within that predominated and filled her mind; for in fact, what had she else? What does the Lord do? "Go call thy husband and come hither." "I have no husband." "Thou hast well said," replied the Lord, "I have no husband; thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that speakest thou truly."
Now, a ray of light breaks in, "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." The word of God by the Lord had divine authority in her heart, because it has reached her conscience. She has found a man who has told her all that ever she did. Who knew that? The prophet's words had divine authority. Yet she does not yet get to wells of water. The divine com munications made to her were quite unintelligible; but much was done. He who knew all her life, all her sin, had been sitting in grace by her, willing to be helped by her. Grace was there as well as truth. She had found the Christ, and leaves her water-pot and her care with it, and becomes a messenger of that which is good news for all. Gerizim and Jerusalem are all alike, and alike nothing. The Father is seeking worshippers in spirit and in truth. — (Extracted.)
"The Jailer Liberated"
"And at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, do thyself no harm; for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16.)
"The Glory of that Light"I was journeying in the noon-tide,
(Voice to the Faithful, Vol. 3.)
The Prodigal's Reception
In Luke 15:11-24, the blessed Son, here on earth, is telling out the nature of the Father's love. It is a parable of the Father's feelings about a prodigal son. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, only knew the extent of our ruin, and He only knew the love that is in the heart of God. These two things were known to Him alone. There is no use in a person going to pay a debt unless he knows the amount of it. This blessed One came to bear our sins, to put Himself under the whole judgment that was on us, and to declare the love of God. Nothing can be more wonderful than this. The Son of God comes into this world, knowing the whole extent of our offence against God, and suffers for it. He only knows the heart of God, and He declares it to us. I may see that I have offended a person, but I must be in that person's mind in order to know how he estimates and feels the offence. Christ knows this, and suffered for it. A sinner could not know what Christ endured, because he never knew the countenance of God. The One who best knew that countenance could tell of the terrible agony it was to have it hidden.
Man's sin began with distrust of God. Satan came into the garden of Eden. And there in that wonderful group of divine mercies the doubt of God's love was engendered in the heart of man. Satan suggested to Eve that the reason God would not allow her to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was because it would advance her position. He poisoned her mind with the thought that man could do better for himself than God would do, and thus Satan gave man an evil idea of God. Then Christ comes to declare God, to vindicate Him whom Satan has maligned. What delight it was to Christ to tell out the heart of God to a returning prodigal here on earth, to a thief on the cross, to a Saul of Tarsus, to bring the saved one into the sphere of the Father's delight! Christ was beside the thief upon the cross, to disclose to him the heart which Satan had maligned.
In this parable (Luke 15) it is the Father's way of receiving back the prodigal. Who unfolds it? His own Son, the only One who could. The prodigal is not a person who has fallen from grace. It was not grace he squandered. Not one single thing of what he squandered was restored to him. What he gets is all new. His first thought is that there is bread enough and to spare in his father's house. He is thinking of WHAT IS IN GOD for him, and that is faith. It is the beginning of all blessing. Thus we see the point of departure is the point of recovery. In the garden of Eden the point of man's departure was distrust of God. To count on God is faith, and that is the point of recovery. If I think a friend who has power will not use his power on my behalf, I think worse of that friend than if I know he has no power to do anything for me. The point of man's recovery is to believe in God's nature — that He is love.
Dear reader, have you still Satan's opinion of God? It is terrible to think that by nature we as sinners are lost, because we hold to Satan's opinion of God. What a fearful thing to be going about the world with Satan's thought of God! Now, to have the best opinion of God is what His own blessed Son teaches me, and to receive it is faith. Faith is — that I reckon, not on what is in me, but on what is in God. The moment you turn to Christ you see that there is love in God. When the prodigal was yet a great way off his father saw him, and had compassion on him, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him. The vagrant son is surprised; yes, at every step is a surprise, so great, so unexpected, the love that met him. The Father first greets him with a kiss — the figure of that which was accomplished when Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor, was saluted by Jesus from the glory. The prodigal never thought he would be kissed. No more did Saul of Tarsus think a light above the brightness of the sun would shine upon him, and Jesus appear to him. I give God credit for His love; I have faith and He surprises me. The moment you trust Him He surprises you. He tells you you have touched a reality that is beyond all measure. The prodigal comes back from necessity, but the Father, in His love, runs to meet him. The kiss is the intimation of the love of God. It is an immense thing to know what God is. God is love. Two things Christ came to do — the one to suffer for our sins, the other to tell out the Father's joy in being able to receive into His own sphere the poor returning wanderer. Oh what delight to learn it! I must let love have its way. The greatest favour you can render love is that you answer to it; the greatest pain is not to value it. Confidence builds on the feelings that I know exist in another; presumption is acting from my own feelings; nothing gratifies the heart that truly loves me more than confiding in it. Confidence is greater than devotion. It is a greater thing to know that Christ gave Himself for me than that I would give all for Him. Nothing love likes so well as to get credit for its existence. Therefore God commends His love towards us, "in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
The defect in souls is the making their necessity the measure of God's grace. "But when yet he was a great way off his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." When kissed, he exclaims "I am not worthy," and then a fresh expression of love comes out to meet that distress. Again he is surprised, and now completely silenced. The Father says, "bring forth the best robe and put it on him." He is not to carry relics of the far country into the Father's dwelling-place. "Bring forth the BEST robe." Invest him with new and beautiful garments. Declare him in every way fit to come into the Father's house! He must enter in all the consciousness of his welcome, and of his meetness, too. The robe is brought to him from within the house. It confers on him a new condition; we now put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man. Many a one says, "I am a poor unworthy creature." Have you the best robe on? If you have you are in a new condition, you can say, "I am a magnificent creature, one of the very highest order; an order above angels, so that Christ is not ashamed to call us brethren." You are "a man in Christ." Is that a poor, miserable creature? "Oh," you say, "we are all sinners." True, the old man is all sin, hence it is the new man that I have to think of, and of the Father who has made us meet to be partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Then we read "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." All the counsels of God open out to me. "Filled with all the fulness of God." What a wonderful condition!
"Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet." He is not to be like Moses, who was told to take off his shoes in the presence of God. No, the prodigal is to have shoes put on; he is to be thoroughly at home in his Father's sphere, and he enters it in the condition suitable to the position. All feelings of unfitness are corrected — love is never satisfied until it does its utmost for its object. If I want to do anything for one I love, I do the best I can — that is the way divine love acts.
There are three things that the prodigal receives —
1, The kiss, a known communication of the father's love.
2, The investing — robe, and ring, and shoes, the new condition suited to enjoy the love of the Father and His things, without which you could not feel yourself at home.
3, The fatted calf — the thing reserved. "Bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found."
The greater the depth to which God goes down in mercy, the greater the height to which His grace will rise. If God has cleared the ground, He occupies it. The fatted calf does not set forth the sacrifice of Christ. The wanderer has been already received; the best robe is already on him. The fatted calf is the sphere of delight in which God places the saved one. He is brought back, not only kissed, but in a new condition; a new creature now brought into the circle of God's festivities. The figure made use of is that of a great entertainment; the fatted calf is something reserved until a special occasion should arise. The sinner saved by grace is brought into the fullest expression of what God is in His love. "Eye hath not seen it," Isaiah says, "but God hath revealed it unto us by his Spirit." It is the love of the Father made known to the soul while here. The secret of God is made known to the one saved by grace. The wanderer is brought to know what before had been hidden in God. Survey it! May we set our hearts on it. May the world see in us a living representation of what is described in this scripture. It is the joy of the saint that arouses the sinner here on earth. Nothing has such weight with others as seeing that "I have a joy beyond anything they know." "They began to be merry!" That is the last we hear of this scene. It is rejoicing with God; delight in the greatest thing He had to give. "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." What a delight to the Lord Jesus Christ, to come forth to me here on earth and tell out what is in a Father's heart for me — a returning prodigal! J. B. S.
"He Died for Me"
A gentleman, while travelling lately in the Southern States of America, came to a place where there was a newly-made grave. Bending over it was a man planting flowers, which as he set them in a new-turned soil, he watered with his tears. After observing him for a time, and noticing his deep sorrow, the traveller said, "I suppose you are mourning over the grave of a wife?" "No," replied the man, "I have not lost my wife." "Perhaps," said the traveller, "your tears water the tomb of a much loved child?" "No," repeated the mourner, "I have lost neither wife nor child." "May I ask then," said the traveller, "whose death it is that causes you so much sorrow?"
"I plant these flowers, and shed these tears for one who died for me," said the mourner. "I was called to serve as a soldier in the late war. I had a wife and children, who would be left uncared for if I fell. My friend came forward; he said, 'I have no wife and children — I will go instead of you.' He did so, and was wounded on the battle-field. Hearing that he was lying in hospital in a dangerous state, I came to see him, but came only in time to find him in his grave. He lies buried here. He has gone down into the tomb for me, and I plant these flowers and water them with my tears in remembrance of him."
The mourner afterwards had a tombstone set up on the grave, and upon it was carved the simple but touching sentence —
"He Died for Me" — (Extracted.)
I suppose there are few who would not be affected by this touching story, but, reader, how few there are who have been touched by that which is far more wonderful, more touching: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends;" but the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, laid down His life for His enemies; "if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son," &c. He died for us to make us His friends. Can you say, reader, you are one whom He has won for Himself; can you say He died for me? and not only died for me, but lives at God's right hand for evermore for me; and can you say, in Him, I have died out of the state or condition in which, as a child of Adam, I was born, and I now live in Him the risen one, and am one with Him the glorified one? W. T. T.
"Received"This is Thy love, my God!
"Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first-begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth — unto him that loves us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen." — Rev. 1:5, 6. W.T.T.
Jordan: or Death Abolished
The passage of Jordan was the fulfilment of the purpose of God announced to Moses (Ex. 3) — that He had come down to deliver His people out of Egypt, and to bring them to a good land, and a large, a land flowing with milk and honey.
It is a great thing to tell a person who is in sorrow because of conscious distance from God, God "gave his Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" — and that His purpose towards us is that this should be known distinctly now while we are on earth. Many put it off to a future day, but scripture sets forth to us that the favour of God is to be known now, and known best where it is most needed. "God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It is not a question of your purpose, but of God's purpose, and Christ has come to carry out that purpose. He says, "Lo I come to do thy will," and He announces to us the delight of the Father's heart in the reception of a returning prodigal. The prodigal may say, "It is too great," and so it is; but Christ's work must not be measured by the need of the sinner, but by the purpose of God.
Look at the poor captives in Egypt. The living God addresses Moses — (type of Christ) — and says, "I know their sorrows." I know how they suffer in their iron bondage, and I am come to deliver them. Let the soul think of that, and ask, — Is that God's thought about me? Does God know my sorrow? Is that His purpose towards me? And who has carried out His purpose? God's Son has carried it out. The last barrier is gone, Jordan is crossed — death is passed, not merely as to my future safety, but an open way is made for me through death, and the soul is brought through grace into the knowledge of the place of rest which God has secured for us in Christ — "a land flowing with milk and honey." Canaan was a figure of the place in which we are now set in Christ.
The Israelites passed the Red Sea, and saw there the death of their enemies. But Jordan had still to be crossed. Jordan is a figure of our dying with Christ. Israel wandered forty years in the wilderness, because they would not go up and possess the land, and, instead of getting in as Abram and Caleb did, without crossing Jordan, they were to pass through the deepest part of it; but there is a way made for them through it. Now, what this type sets forth to me is, that a way through death is accomplished for me according to the mind of God, and which sets me on heavenly ground. The law was weak through the flesh, but, "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." Christ has died for me, and opened a way out of the ruin of myself.
Jordan was the last barrier in the way of the blessing God would bring His people to, and in Joshua 3 we read, "When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go, for ye have not passed this way heretofore," and "as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, the water which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap and the priests that bare the ark of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan." There is a clear and perfect way for the people through the waters, and Joshua calls them to come and survey what has been done. The thing presented to faith is, that the work is accomplished. Christ the true Ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth has gone down to death for us. Before leaving the world He says, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life." Christ has made the way thoroughly open, and if you do not enjoy it, it is because you are not looking at Him. "To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." It is a simple thing, when the soul looks at Him, it is taken up with Him. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus; the thief on the cross is occupied with Him; the woman in the Pharisee's house came to Him; Saul of Tarsus is overwhelmed with the glory and brightness of a light above the sun, and the only relief to his heart is, that he finds Jesus is in the glory.
If I want to learn what is accomplished, I learn it by seeing the Accomplisher.
It is not that the way will open when you come to it. If a soul does not see that it is open, he does not see how God has dealt with him, and he fears to approach death; he is standing, as the hymn says, "shivering on the brink, and fears to launch away;" but if his eye is on the Ark, he sees the way open, and it is known as definitely to him now on earth, as it was to Saul of Tarsus, or to Stephen. There is not a single barrier on God's side between me and the throne of God. My own self stands in the way, if I have not died with Christ, and am free from judgment; but scripture says I am dead with Him; if not, I could not get to this place of rest! If you say the way is not open till you die, you do not believe that it is open now; you think something has not been accomplished by Christ's death — you do not regard Him as the perfect accomplisher. Perhaps you say, "I am not afraid of judgment, but I fear death — the breaking up of the body." Then you do not see the way through death. Stephen sees the way clear up to glory. Did Stephen make the way? "No, Jesus made it; and if so, death is no king of terrors for him; he can say, if they kill me, I go straight to glory; if I die, the way is open;" and he suffers the most bitter death that ever man was exposed to, without a murmur; on the contrary, he prays for those who inflict the suffering.
The gospel is not merely to deliver us from Egypt; the gospel is the good tidings that God brings us to His own ground — to Himself, where we can rest in the enjoyment of His eternal love, and are set up in the power of Christ, to sustain us here on earth.
You will never really get rest to your soul till you see the wondrous purpose in the heart of God toward you — that out of His own love He sent His Son; He found a Person who was perfectly adequate to carry out every item of that purpose. When you see this you magnify the One who has removed every barrier; He becomes the distinct commanding object of the heart, and you can say with one of old, "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."
The Lord alone can make the soul comprehend the goodness of His grace, but as the eye turns to Him, it sees by faith all He has accomplished. J. B. S.
A Word to Anxious Ones
This paper is addressed to any who are exercised as to their state before God, but who have not settled peace, and the abiding consciousness that their sins are for ever put away. Beloved reader, if not as yet happy in Christ, be now intreated to rest on His finished work, otherwise you practically deny that His precious blood was shed for you, and thus you dishonour Him.
We seek to point you to a RISEN CHRIST. Why risen? This is most important. Read carefully Romans 6:3 and 11. Christ was made "sin" for us. (2 Cor. 5:21.) Having thus, as a sin-bearer, been "smitten of God" (Isaiah 53:4), and forsaken on the cross (Mark 15:34), He was buried. Sin was thus put away out of God's sight. But having no sin in Him (Heb. 4:15) the grave could not hold Him, and He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father. (Rom. 6:4.) See also 1 Corinthians 6:14.
He who was thus made "sin" and "a curse" was raised again (having perfectly glorified God) for our justification. (Rom. 4:25.) And by Him all that believe are justified from all things. (Acts 13:39.)
The fact of the Lord having been raised again is a proof that God's claims of justice have been met, and thus he can righteously express to us all His love! (Luke 12:50.)
Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30.) Thus, it is not what the sinner is, but what Christ is for him, and the believer, being in Christ, is spotless before God. (Col. 2:10.) He is our life. (Col. 3:3, 4.) From this the reader will see that it is of the utmost importance to have right views regarding what is meant by a "risen Saviour."
People often look for the witness of the Holy Ghost in them whilst they have not believed the witness of the Holy Ghost to them. (See 1 John 5:9-13, and Heb. 10:15.) Satan would have us occupied with our hearts of unbelief, looking at our failures and feelings, thus depriving us of peace. Instead of being thus occupied with our wretched evil natures, we should be occupied with Him who is our life.
The reader is entreated to look out — not in. Thus are we enabled to live unto Him who died for us and rose again. (2 Cor. 5:15.) One look of faith at a risen Saviour, and the sinner passes from death unto life. (John 5:24.) Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6.) Dear reader, do not doubt God's love. Has He not proved it? Did He not give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth should not perish, but have everlasting life? (John 3:16; see also John 3:36.) Oh! why so much doubt and distrust of God's love, grace, and mercy? Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child he shall not enter therein. (Mark 10:15.) Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37.) Again, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." (Rev. 22:17.) Again, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28.)
Anxious, troubled one, COME! Now is the day of grace. (2 Cor. 6:1, 2.) To-day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (Heb. 3:7, 8.) "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb. 2:3.) The night is far spent. (See also Peter 3:9.) "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:14.) And yet again, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38.) How frequently the Lord says in the gospel: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!" "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they SHALL NEVER PERISH." (John 10:27, 28.)
The reader is earnestly requested to read all the texts referred to: those given wholly as well as those given partially. (John 5:40.)
"Peace with God"
I feel that God has given me, since I returned from R— the time before last, a great lift in the deeper understanding and enjoyment in the Spirit of His grace. Chiefly through seeing the fearful dishonour of not making Christ all my salvation, so as to joy in Him at all times as Saviour; for if I am not doing so, I am casting discredit on His blood, and denying its value before God, as far as in me lies. This is a most subtle evil; and one that nothing but the mighty power of God can detect and make present to the soul, so that it should not have one rag to cover it, except filthy ones; and not one good thought of even the whole past life, to commend it before God; but naked, be compelled to receive all in Christ as a gift; to receive the kingdom of God as a little child. Our dear A— did nothing to get this place. No more can we. "Ah! but —" But what? "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." (Luke 18:17.) What is grace? It is the GIFT of God. "But —" Well, but what? Doesn't it suit you? If not, you have not been brought to know yourself a vile sinner, and nothing but a sinner, who, if ever you are to be in glory, must be there by the pure mercy and sovereign grace of God; not one particle of your own, going before, going along with, or coming after — all grace, and all Christ. "That I may be found in him." Precious righteousness, the righteousness of God! for we are "made the righteousness of God in him." In HIM. But it is divine righteousness that I am made in Him — nothing of the creature in it — none of its imperfections, as well as none of its sin. Ah! What God am I to be with throughout all eternity? What am I with now, if not the "Holy, holy, holy Lord God," who cannot look upon sin at all? I must be absolutely without sin, if I am to be with Him. Is that what it is to be saved — to be brought to God! Yes. If I am yet in my sins, I am not with Him. For He could not look on me in my sins. It would be everlasting perdition to me if He did. He could not look on Christ when He was bearing my sins — when He made Him to be sin for me. How then could He look on me in my sins? My dearest A — , this matter must be settled, once for all, and thoroughly, in the presence of God, and by God, and then we shall have peace — everlasting peace with God; a peace which no subsequent exercises of soul will touch; but on which, in truth, they will all be founded.
I have no proper christian experience or exercise of heart until I know that I am saved by GOD, in Christ; saved, so that I never never can be lost. God Himself my Saviour. It is here Christ comes in, just here —
"As food the hungry soul receives,
As choice perfumes delight the smell,
So, mercy from the cross revives
Man sinking in the jaws of hell."
Ah! it is sinners sinking in the jaws of hell that know the preciousness of Christ and His perfect work. It is sinners, who are but sinners in the presence of holiness — for God does not lower His holiness in His dealings with me a sinner — the thought would be blasphemous. He cannot cease to be what He is. But, O, blessed for ever be His name, if He is holy, unchangeably holy, He is love; love found a way of letting holiness have free course against my sins, and yet of sparing me, the sinner. Now here again it is that Christ comes in. He devoted himself to death for my sins, that holiness might have free course and be glorified; and that I, wretched one, who committed those sins, and who, for one moment, could not have stood before the wrath of God, if it fell on me, might be the ransomed trophy of His love — the blood-bought witness of His obedience unto death. Now I see perfect holiness dealing with my sins in judgment and death in the blessed One who took them on Himself in grace. I see the judgment of God against me falling on the Lamb of God. I see Him drinking the whole cup; alone with God, for ever settling this question of sin, and leaving not one thing as to sin and its judgment ever to be settled by me! How is sin settled? BY DEATH. Am I to settle sin with God, so? Well, if not, it is settled long ago — for ever settled by God, in Christ.
And now note another point. Not merely did Jesus devote Himself to death for this end, because none other could do it, but this was the grace and love of God to us. It was to do the will of God that Jesus came thus to die: "God so LOVED the world! Oh, that blessed, blessed text! Not half believed by one Christian in a thousand. All is of God. It is He who thought of saving us; He, from whose wrath we were to be saved; He who knows what everlasting perdition is. And oh! what unutterable anguish the soul that dies in its sins must endure! He it is who thinks of saving me — us — the world. Yes, the world — though men are afraid to say it — the world from perishing.
But what will become of His truth, His threatenings against sin, His majesty and righteousness, if He shelters such altogether sinners from the due reward of their deeds? Ah! here again Christ comes in. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," — "to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself" — "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here then I see righteousness and all God's judgment against sin magnified in a way it never could have been if the sinner had for ever suffered. But oh! I see love — I see God — for "God is love." "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10.) Now I see how God can be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." (Rom. 3:26.)
"I will Trust"
Jesus, I will trust Thee, — trust Thee with my soul,
Guilty, lost, and helpless, Thou canst make me whole;
There is none in heaven, or on earth, like Thee:
Thou hast died for sinners, therefore, Lord, for me.
Jesus, I may trust Thee, — Name, of matchless worth,
Spoken by the angels at Thy wondrous birth;
Written — and for ever — on Thy cross of shame
Sinners, read and worship, trusting in that Name.
Jesus, I must trust Thee, — pondering Thy way,
Full of love and mercy, all Thine earthly days;
Sinners gather'd round Thee, lepers sought Thy face, —
None too vile or loathsome for a Saviour's grace.
Jesus, I do trust Thee, — trust without a doubt —
Whosoever cometh, Thou wilt not cast out;
Faithful is Thy promise, precious is Thy blood,
These, my soul's salvation, Thou, my Saviour, God.
The Good Samaritan
In this parable we have delineated, in the simplest way and most exact manner, how Christ is a neighbour to a needy one on earth. There is nothing about heaven in it. There is the salvation which entitles me to heaven; but it is not there that we shall want a neighbour, but here, in this scene of distress. The question is put to the Lord, "Who is my neighbour?" and His answer implies that it is the one who needs Him; and He points out the condition of the one whom He helps, and the character of the help which He gives; not merely what the law requires, but according to the goodness and greatness of God, He unfolds the wondrous relief which He brings to the most needy one on earth, and shows that the very same power that will carry such an one to heaven is that which bears him along the road. He transfers him into a new condition, and places him for ever under His own care; that is, Christ's SALVATION.
"A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead."
This is a picture of man's state. He may not be aware of it; so much the worse. This poor man was not dead: he had enough of life left to make him feel his sufferings and his powerlessness, and so powerless was he that he could not refuse the favour offered. The help comes to man, but he resists it. He is not so consciously powerless as to remain passive, because of weakness. Souls are not saved by Christ, because they are resisting Him in some way. Christ is neighbour to the one who wants Him. Zacchaeus wanted Him; he desired to see Him; and he was met beyond his desire. "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." If you admit your helplessness — make no secret of it — then comes the blessing. "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." (Ps. 32:5.)
The Lord here represents Himself by a Samaritan — one on whom the Jews had no claim. We had no claim on Christ; but He has come, and takes the place of loving His neighbour as Himself. He does not confine Himself to the law, but He goes further. He serves the needy one, not for the one or many occasions only, but ALWAYS — not merely according to the law, which was God's standard for man, but according to His own standard — "the will of God."
Here is a helpless one with nothing to commend him. He has no power even to resist. "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was, and when he saw him he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine." That is the manner of the Lord's love to the needy one. He saw what man was in himself, and it brought Him to the cross, as we know. He came to minister life and comfort to the needy on earth, pouring oil and wine into our death wounds, recovering us from our lost estate. Restored life, or new life, is thus expressed by the figure "oil and wine." The needy one is cured where he suffered. We find our wounds are cured here, where we suffer from them.
Do you ever want a neighbour? Whom do you go to in your trouble? If you believed that God's Son was in this world, would you ever turn to any but to Him? He came where the poor man was: the priest and the Levite passed by; but He sees and enters into the whole character of the evil on suffering man. He fulfilled all the counsel of God, and He alone was the one to remove the evil. He comes to meet you in your distress, not stretching out His hand and sending favours from a distance, but entering into all the circumstances, having intimate acquaintances with the necessity of the one who needs the help. Do you value a neighbour? Have you found one? He has come to help us, not after a human fashion only, but to manifest the love of God, which, once it has to do with us, will never leave us. We must always be the objects of it — "for ever." Will you pass on and say, I do not want to know Him?
Every one has a death-wound — a suffering of some kind — a sense of what a bitter world it is. All the neighbour was bound to do by the law was to help out of trouble. But this wonderful neighbour says, I bring you to my side and to my state, having first saved you from your own. "He set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him." You first get His power and then His care. Of course this is all figurative; but it shows how the Lord cares for us in a world of difficulty and trial. No one doubts that Christ's power carries the believer to Heaven, but do you expect Him to take you off your own feet, and transfer you to the power which is in Himself? He turns us from darkness to light, not when we get to Heaven, but here on earth where a neighbour acts in the very place where we are. He does not put you on your own feet, as He did when down here, as we read in the Gospels, with those who were lame and palsied. Now He transfers you to another condition. The same character of power that wrought in Christ is given the needy one. Scripture is definite as to this. (See Eph. 1:19, 20.) You are on new ground — set on his own beast. He gives us power to rise out of the condition in which He finds us. Whose power is it? It is not mine; the wounds are mine. Not only are the wounds healed — not merely is there a sense of relief from what would terrify and distress, but there is the consciousness of having His power — the mighty power that wrought in Christ and raised Him from the dead. Does it not attract and interest you to know that Christ came down to where you were; that He is near to you, as your neighbour, to pour oil and wine into your death-wounds, and to give you a power which you had not before — His own power — setting you on His "own beast"?
Christ magnified the law, did the will of God, and fulfilled His love. Now, He says, the power that wrought in Myself is the very power I give you. We are quickened together with Christ." (Eph. 2:5.) Is it meant that we should know nothing of it down here? No; "it worketh in us." (Eph. 3:20.) His power brings you to "the inn," (the place where He will take care of you,) not to a home; heaven is our home. "And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee."
Now, I have His care. You find the nature and manner of that care all through His life on earth. "While I was with them in the world I kept them in Thy name." It was not riches He gave them. They were so poor they had to shell ears of corn in their hands for food; yet, when He asked, "When I sent you without purse and scrip and shoes, lacked ye anything?" they said, "Nothing."
An inn is for a stranger, a traveller. People do not like this; they like to have a home, a rest, in this world. All would like to have their wounds cured; but they do not care to be set on "his own beast," to be on the new ground with Christ. It is there that He will take care of you, and that your soul will have the sense of what it is to be brought to a place where Christ is chargeable for you all the journey through. The charge is His, and He never relinquishes it. He would have us know that we are always in His charge — not dependent on any other person. Look at the state in which the needy one was found, and the state in which Christ sets him. Does it not draw the heart to Christ? He has come to open out to us the heart of God, — to be the exponent of it. Do not be afraid to trust Him in the path of trouble and distress. He will show you that it is not power only that He will exercise on your behalf — not only a strong hand stretched forth to save you, but the care of a loving heart, to nurture and to cherish you all the way. Is there a heart that knows anything of the sorrow of the world who will say, "I will not look to Him, I will resist Him," or who does not long to say, "I am going through this world as an inn, only seeking a night's lodging, finding I am still without a home, yet having the unspeakable solace of being cared for by Christ, my Saviour, while a stranger and a traveller in this weary world"? J. B. S.
The Dumb to Speak; or, the Mouth Closed and Opened
The gospel sets before a sinner what God is, having shown out what man is. The cross, which has displayed God in His own nature, has also established the guilt of man. It declares that man has no righteousness for God, nor ever can have in himself; but that God has provided for man, though outside of him altogether, a righteousness worthy of Himself. Man is so bad that it is impossible to make him any better, and God has declared man to be such, having tried and proved him, from the garden of Eden up to the cross. God has made trial of man from the very first. God knew what was in him, but God would have it shown out, openly manifested; and it is very solemn what came out at the close of the probation of man, as it is called. It is a dreadful picture, but true. He broke the law, slew the prophets, murdered Christ, and resisted the Holy Ghost! and all this, because it was in his heart — in his nature, as we say. Man has been proved guilty, and hence the words, "there is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good; no, not one." What follows is a description of the kind of fruit which this bad tree has produced; but here I desire to point out how that the bad fruit is only natural to the bad tree, for many are willing to confess that they have been guilty of bad, wicked actions, who will not confess that they themselves are bad, lost. Have you, my reader, bowed to this fact — that you are by nature lost, that you deserve to be sent to hell for ever? Can you say, God would be righteous in condemning me; I have nothing to say; He has closed my mouth? Were I to open it, it would be to justify Him, and condemn myself. So far we have looked at the guilt and ruin of man in his own nature, as established, proved by God, and his mouth closed. Let us look a little at how God acted from Himself for His own glory and the benefit and blessing of the one so lost. First He gave His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the delight of His heart, that His love might shine forth, and that in Him all might be made good, according to Himself. He, the just, died for the unjust. He glorified God in His life and in His death. By Him "all that believe are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." To Him give all the prophets witness, that whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins, and Him hath God set forth to be a propitiation or mercy-seat, through faith in His blood, to declare at this time God's righteousness, that He might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.
You will observe that the prophets spoke of all this as about to come; the gospel declares it is come. There is no room left for boasting, for man has had no part in it; all is of God, in and by Jesus Christ, and that is the reason why it is said, "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." On our side the mouth is closed, but on God's side it is opened; but to make mention of Him, the blessed One who gave Himself for us, what a contrast! In Romans 3 the heart is the seat of all wickedness, and the mouth utters it, "full of cursing and bitterness," while here in Romans 10 it is the heart's acknowledgment of God and of Christ, and the mouth's confession of it. He, the blessed Son of God, died for sin, was raised again from the dead by the glory of the Father, and is in glory; and now whosoever receives Him receives life and righteousness and glory. Reader, have you believed Him, received Him, confessed Him? W. T. T.
A Path through Grace to Glory
"The glorious gospel of the blessed God."
God so loved the world, that HE gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life.
To you is the word of this salvation sent.
The Gospel of your salvation.
The Gospel of God; . . . . the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; . . . the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood; . . . redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
It is the BLOOD that maketh an atonement. Without shedding of blood there is no remission. The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth from all sin.
Life which is in the blood.
He gave his life a ransom for many.
God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He that hath the Son hath life.
He that believeth on ME hath everlasting life.
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?
BEHOLD what manner of love!
God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world (that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love), having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:6.) Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.
If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.
For this we say unto you, by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.
The Old Creation and the New
At a little meeting near S—, a beautiful answer was given by one who, that night, had believed the record that God gave of His Son. When asked if she had peace with God, she said, "Yes." It was so, indeed. "Jesus died to take me out of the old creation and put me into the new." And what did such an answer mean? Can you see any connection between deliverance out of the old creation, etc., and peace with God? My fellow-sinner, if you belong to the old creation — if you are still as you always were — as you were born into this world, a child of Adam, you are at war with God. Speak not of peace; no terms can be made with you: you are on the enemy's ground. Nay, you are even now under the judgment of God, which must shortly overwhelm you.
For the Lord Jesus Christ, God's well-beloved Son, endured that judgment on the cross; and from the hour of His death, the whole scene to which you belong, which is your home, has lain under the judgment of God. God is not trying you to see if you will improve — as if any good can be got out of you. It is too late to think of improvement. Previous to the cross God gave man plenty of opportunity for improvement. But all in vain. There is an end to that now. And in the death of the Lord Jesus, God has for ever closed up in judgment the history of the first Adam and his race. Do you think that if you had one more chance, you would make better use of it than your fathers did? Poor dupe of Satan! Is your understanding so darkened by the mists of the bottomless pit that you would plead for an opportunity of fitting yourself for God, when at this very moment you are despising the blood of His Son? Yes, you are doing what Cain did in an earlier day — refusing to bow to God's sentence on you, and offering Him the fruit of a nature He has judged.
But there is a new creation. I see Him in whose death the history of the first was closed, rising from the dead on the third day, and communicating that life with which He rose to others. Ah! this then is a life beyond death, beyond judgment, — a life that can be touched by neither. It does not belong to the children of Adam. It has no connection with the old creation. It is life in the Son of God. Sin does not attach to it, nor penalty for sin. Sin had suffered its judgment, had been put away before you or I could share this life. Behold, I set before you this day life or death, blessing or cursing; death and cursing if you abide in the old creation — life and blessing in the new creation. For "this is the record that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son: — He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." Now you can understand how, being delivered from the old creation, you have peace with God. The old creation lies under His wrath. The new creation is life in His Son. The old creation is Satan's dominion. There is no salvation out of the new. But "if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new." Oh, I beseech you, consider where you are. To which do you belong? Now God is preaching deliverance — soon, if you despise His message, you shall be for ever shut up to Satan, Oh, reject not the love that led Him to give His Son for you, in the hopelessness of your condition. Bow to His judgment upon all that you are, and accept life in His Son.
In this beautiful scripture the Lord unfolds to us, in a striking way, what is in the heart of man, in contrast with what is in His own heart. There is nothing but badness in the one, and nothing but goodness in the other.
Men in general, like the Pharisees here, are occupied about what is outside: the washing of hands before eating bread, the washing of cups, the traditions of the elders, have the first place in their thoughts. With what amazing power must these words of the Lord Jesus have fallen on their ears: — "Hear and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man." What a picture of a man's heart! the seat of all wickedness and folly, the cage of every unclean bird! a filthy, polluted swamp, out of which issue the streams of sorrow and death. My reader, this is your heart! Have you owned it, bowed to it, submitted yourself to the judgment of God so expressed? so much so that to you it is a comfort past description to turn away from yourself to Him — that blessed One, whose heart, full of goodness, is towards you, and whose word to you is, "I cannot trust you; you may trust me"? Have you so turned to Him? It is not a little remarkable that, immediately after exposing the heart of man, the Lord left the place of boasted privilege for the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, which were outside the region of earthly blessing, and the people in covenant relationship with God; and here, in the defiled place, as it were, He manifests the heart of God as fully as previously in the place of outward privilege he exposed the heart of man. The boasted goodness of the land of Israel could not change the heart of man, and the known wretchedness and contempt connected with Tyre and Sidon could not take away from what was in the heart of God. A woman of Canaan, belonging to a cursed race, a descendant of Ham, in her distress cries after Him: "Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David! my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." He who was tenderness itself answers her not a word! What can it be; is there no pity in Him?
His disciples, in the selfishness of their nature, say to Him, "Send her away;" that is, "give her what she wants;" "she crieth after us;" she is a trouble to us; or, it is distressing to hear her. He who alone was the Servant of the various needs of men was also Jehovah's Servant; and as she without right claims from him as Son of David, he replies, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
She will not give Him up though He is silent to her; and again she comes, worshipping Him, and saying, "Lord help me!" What will He say to this? As Jehovah's Servant, He will not only own the rights of Jehovah, but will have all do likewise; hence He replies, "It is not meet to take the children's bread (i.e., what belongs to Israel) and to cast it to dogs" (i.e., to Gentiles). What will she say to this? Is she content to be blessed as a dog, as an unclean, outside one? She replies, "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table." She is satisfied to be a dog! she is satisfied to receive a crumb! He had it in His heart to bless her according to His heart; His best is what was in His heart for her. Gently and graciously, yet truly, did He lead her on step by step, first, off from false ground that she had taken in the wildness of her distress (for as Son of David she had no claim upon Him), and then on the full acknowledgment that even a dog in the house of such a Master was not forgotten; so that to be such to Him, and to receive from such an One as Him a crumb, was heaven on earth!
Beloved reader, what do you think of Him who, in this blessed way of His own love, attracted her, instructed her, blessed her, according to all that was in His own heart — "led her forth by the right way"?
Have you been drawn to Him and blessed by Him; have you turned to Him in your distress and misery; and have you now that full confidence in Him that He has done, and will do, His best for you?
"We have known and believed the love that God hath to us." W. T. T.
A Voice from the Deep
On the 6th of January, 1866, a ship left Plymouth with as good a prospect before her as any that ever sailed from that port. On the 10th of that same month, or about that time, the "London," with the exception of the few who escaped, was engulfed in the depths of the ocean. The following letter, written on board shortly before the vessel sank, and sent to a relative, has a voice of its own. It was brought on shore by one of the survivors in the boat: —
January 10, 1866.
My dear brother, — Before your eyes will look on this, your brother Frederick and I will be engulfed in the depths of the sea. We left Plymouth on the 6th. The weather was then stormy, but not such as to render any fear of danger. However, as we proceeded, the gale increased; and while I am penning these few lines the awful rocking of the vessel is such, that it is with the utmost difficulty I can hold my pen. I cannot describe to you the state of agitation which is written on every countenance; some awaiting with the utmost composure their fate; others so alarmed at the prospect of death that their shrieks are truly heartrending. But, amidst it all, I am resigned to my fate. Blessed be God, I am resting on the Rock. I know in whom I have believed. Christ is precious to me. I do not know whether by any means you will receive this. Oh that I could see all those with whom I have been acquainted! I mourn now over my own indifference towards their spiritual welfare; and now, with death staring me in the face, I feel I could do anything, if by any means I might save some. Tell S. not to neglect the salvation of her soul. Tell J. to give his heart to the Saviour at once. I want to meet all in heaven.
And now, my dear brother, farewell. Many have been the happy meetings we have had together on earth; our next meeting will be, I trust, where not a wave of trouble shall roll over us. I cannot say any more. God bless you, and keep you. — Your affectionate brother,
And now, reader, where are you going? to what company do you belong? In the "London" many went down; one at least (God grant there were more) went up. Not long since you may have read a paper called "The Wreck and the Island." On which are you standing? The wreck is yourself, in your own nature, like the "London," going down; the island is the Lord Jesus Christ risen from the dead, in whom is righteousness, eternal life and glory. Where are you? W. T. T.
"Touch this Rock;" or the Heart made Light as a Feather
Nothing to be seen in nature, not even the difference of light and darkness, or of life and death, presents a contrast so striking, so wonderful, as that which is seen when, in certain cases of deep exercise of soul and gropings after God, He commands "the light to shine out of darkness," giving "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Very vividly and very blessedly has this been exhibited before my soul in the recent conversion of two old men. The first of the two is the case of a man who in his younger days had been a soldier, but being a good penman had in his latter years been employed as a clerk. He had frequently been to the preaching, and when visited would sometimes seem impressed under the word; but he became "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin," and ceased to come to hear the glad tidings. Failing health and severe sciatica obliged him to go to the infirmary, where I visited him. When I asked him about his soul, I was unspeakably thankful to find that his conscience was in exercise, and he was under great dread of being lost. There could be no doubt he was really in earnest now — God had stirred up the very depths of his soul. "I am praying," said he, "night and day; scarcely a minute that I am awake that I am not crying to the Lord for mercy." I at once asked him in what special way he expected mercy to be shown him, pressing upon him that God had manifested His mercy in the gift of His Son, and by virtue of the work of the cross in the gift of everlasting life through Him to every one that believeth; and showing him that salvation consisted not in crying for mercy, but in believing the good news of God's love as revealed in Christ, who by His precious work had set God free to impart blessing to every needy soul; and so far from our having to wear out our strength in entreaties to Him, it is He who with open arms is beseeching poor sinners to be reconciled to God! He drank all this into a heart the Lord had opened. How true is it the entrance of Thy word giveth light! His reply was, "Oh! I see now — instead of begging Him for mercy, I ought to be thanking Him for all He has done, for the work is finished." "Exactly," said I, "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation"! And so the load was removed for ever, and another ransomed soul set free to begin to worship "the Lamb that was slain;" the worship that then, for the first time, broke forth faintly from the sufferer's lips in the wards of that hospital, will help to swell the mighty volume of praise that shall reverberate in heaven through all eternity. Shortly after this he was removed from the infirmary, and lies on his humble bed not far from where I write, racked with pain night and day; but oh! so happy; oh! so bright; his heart filled with praise; his frequent exclamation, "Oh! blessed Saviour; oh! precious Lamb." He longs now to go to Him; not a doubt, not a fear obtains. "There's not a cloud above, not a spot within!"
The other case is that of dear P—. He had been a hard-working but rough, noisy fellow, employed at gasworks. Induced by my dear wife to come to a cottage preaching near his house, he was evidently struck by the word, and without much solicitation came very frequently afterwards, becoming more and more interested — but nothing beyond. He was still "afar off." This continued for some months, when God was pleased during the severe weather of this winter to lay His hand upon him in sickness, and when the writer visited him he found the big, strong man lying on his bed with a distressing cough. On this and several subsequent occasions, during a period of some weeks, he assented to all that was said, was glad to be visited, thankful to be read to or prayed for, and professed to be a convicted sinner, anxious for salvation. Yet nothing seemed to help him; his soul made no progress; his conscience got no relief; his heart no rest. It was the stagnation of death and the darkness of the grave — no life, no light! On one occasion after this I spoke severely to him, saying I believed he was trifling with God, dealing lightly with His mercy and His grace, hardening himself against a Saviour's love, and grieving a heart that was well nigh weeping over him for sorrow at his continued resistance to divine activity in goodness. He said nothing, and I left him with intentional abruptness. On another occasion, subsequently, I thought I had at length found some clue to the impediment to blessing, viz., that he was waiting for some special action of the Holy Spirit. This I met in a way similar to that related in the previous case, and I assured him that if an angel from heaven announced to him God's grace in Christ, it would add not a particle of weight to the authority of the divine declaration that "whosoever believeth hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." Still no result visible. But shortly after this He did it, to whose name be all the praise eternally. P.'s wife had gone for medicine, and he, being somewhat better, was up, and reading his Bible and praying alternately. Getting on his legs after prayer, he stood as it were transfixed, saying out aloud, "This will never do, to get up and be just what I was;" and again he cried to God as he stood, "Lord, help me; Lord, have mercy; touch this rock, Lord, touch this rock!" smiting his breast. Again he went on his knees. "I can't tell," said he, "what I said then, but He heard me, and I shouted out aloud; for my load was gone, and I got up a new man; and now, blessed be His name, my heart is as light as a feather!" And while he told this simple tale of God's great deliverance, the tears coursed down his swarthy cheek, and he cried and praised alternately! What hath God wrought? Such a change as God only can effect — a mightier contrast than light and darkness, death and life; for it is the contrast between sin and holiness, between hell and heaven, between Satan and God! Dear reader, ponder these cases of God's salvation, and through His mercy may they be the means of illustrating to your soul — if you know Him not as a Saviour-God how instantly ready He is to give deliverance, and joy, and peace in believing when we take Him at His word; and He only it is who can touch the rock of man's hard and heavy heart, and make it light as a feather.
Many have so often refused the gospel, so put off the soul's salvation to some future time, that when they have been, as it were, surprised into the reality of death, they have exclaimed, in deep and bitter remorse of conscience, "I have sold my soul for a straw:" or, "Too late! too late!" Others have been so sensible of their being eternally lost, that they have spoken of their going to the bottomless pit almost with the last breath. Reader, beware of procrastination! "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" The following account of one who put off this momentous matter until he had to exclaim, in bitter anguish, "Too late!" is only, I am pained to say, one of a long list that might be given.
"D— was a young man of twenty-five years. When I saw him first he was just recovering from fever, and seemed very anxious about his soul. He realised, in some measure, his deliverance from an early grave, and now his mind was exercised about eternal things. I endeavoured to set before him God's simple way of salvation. He said, 'Oh, if I am spared, how differently I would live.' I tried to show him that that was a device of Satan; that it was his duty now to trust the Lord Jesus.
"He recovered, and as strength returned his anxiety disappeared, and he now only seemed to rest in the vain hope of 'turning over a new leaf.' To my surprise, on entering the ward one day, I found him again ill. He was very much alarmed, and I again spoke to him. My visits were earnestly sought, and as cheerfully paid, hoping that now he would be brought, not to rest on 'turning over a new leaf,' but, resting only on Jesus, become at once a new creature. He was brought very low, but once more restored, and after a few weeks was again walking about convalescent, hoping to be dismissed in a few days from the building where his life had been in so much jeopardy. He had as yet not embraced the free message of the gospel, but waited for the convenient season.
"I had just entered the hospital one afternoon, when the nurse of the ward where D— was a patient came to me. I followed her to his bedside. There he lay; every limb trembled, his eye wandered wildly, his lip quivered. I spoke to him of the compassion of Jesus — His work for the lost, His willingness to save. He listened for a few minutes; but as if my words could no longer be borne, he gave me such a look that I cannot soon forget it. Oh! the despair and terror that seemed mingled in that gaze, and his voice almost filled the ward with the cry, IT'S TOO LATE! IT'S TOO LATE!' And before the sun went down the lifeless form of the procrastinator was carried away."
Dear reader! now think of God's word, that "He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Now, then, turn to God; believe His word about Jesus, and rejoice that you have everlasting life.
"All Things are Ready — Come!"
Safe, myself, within the Ark,
How my spirit yearns o'er thee,
Tossing in thy fragile bark,
Out in life's tempestuous sea.
Safely I in Christ abide,
Raised above the floods of sin;
While the door is open wide,
Oh! that thou wouldst enter in.
Rev. 22:17; John 6:37.
Safe, myself, within the fold,
Yet my spirit cannot rest
While thee wand'ring I behold,
Still, alas! unsaved, unblest.
Oh! that thou wouldst take the place
Of "the lost" — this Jesus craves;
For "the lost," in pitying grace,
Still the Shepherd seeks and saves,
Luke 19:10, 41, 42.
Once I also went astray,
Loved the world and sin too well,
Madly follow'd my own way,
And a tale of woe could tell.
Grace it was that rescued me —
Drew me to the Father's home,
Grace is pleading now with thee,
Oh, that thou wouldst also come!
Eph. 2:18; Luke 14:22, 23.
What a welcome would be thine,
What a Father's kiss of love!
His a deeper joy than mine,
Shared by angel hosts above.
Oh! the bliss can ne'er be told,
We must enter in to see,
In the home, the ark, the fold,
All is ready — WHAT OF THEE?
Luke 15; Mark 5:18-20.
The remarkable history of Jonah is a picture of Israel's history — that people are at present at the bottom of the sea, as it were; but there will be, in the coming day, a restoration of the nation.
But the prophet is more than a type of the Jew; he is a perfect picture of man in his natural state; and it is in this light I would call attention to it.
"Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord."
Here, then, we have him, as a fallen child of Adam, setting up his will against God. Selfwill marks him at the very start; in the pride of his heart too, like Adam, he will take his own way to accomplish his own ends; and instead of going to Nineveh, where God had sent him in the exercise of a ministry in which all the power of God would sustain him, he rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, like Adam again, who hid himself from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden after he had set up his will.
Sin is the having an independent will which is ever opposed to God's will, and this leads to distance from God. Adam went out from God's presence; Cain and Jonah likewise. This is the unvarying path that flesh walks in — it cannot abide the light of God's presence, and God cannot suffer the exercise of this will. The prophet having thus acted in self will, and fled from the presence of the Lord, in the independence of the flesh paying his fare to Tarshish, presents a sorrowful picture of the condition of many a sinner at this present time. Death and ruin all around him, and none to help, in a ship well-nigh broken up by the violence of the waves, while the very heathen call on their god, he alone of all others "lay" "fast asleep." Oh, what a picture! Alas! no uncommon one at this moment. My reader, a picture of yourself, if as yet you have never been awakened to your true state before God. "Lay" "fast asleep" are the simple but expressive words by which the Holy Ghost describes this most solemn condition; it is not only selfwilled and independent, but when the awful consequence is upon him, and death stares him in the face, he alone is indifferent. Here, then, is the condition of the professing multitudes around us. In the midst of religious observances of all kinds, and religious appliances of every shape — open churches, fast days, and sacraments, synods and religious societies — the vast mass lie in the boasted cradle of privilege, and the devil rocks them fast asleep. "What meanest thou, O sleeper?" is the only suited language when pondering such a state of things. Awakened at last, in the mercy of God, to a sense of his perishing condition, the prophet passes the sentence of death upon himself — "Take me up, and cast me into the sea." And Jonah is soon wrapped among the weeds of the sea, down in the bottoms of the mountains, the waters compassing him about, the depth closed around his head. Now, there are two points of immense beauty here: —
First, Who was it thought of Jonah in his self-willed independence and indifference? Oh! the wondrous grace of our Saviour God, who in His own persevering love pursues in awakening tenderness the failing prophet, or a poor sinner now! Yes, reader, the very same God who shook to its foundations the prison of Philippi, to awaken the jailer, now blows his mighty storm upon the ocean to awaken the sleeping Jonah, and, it may be, in His grace, may use these poor lines to awaken you.
Secondly, Who was it provided for Jonah a salvation worthy of Himself? Who but God? Now, mark it well, the prophet passes sentence of death on himself; nothing less would suit; it must be death, and it must be accepted. "Take me up, and cast me into the sea:" and so when death had its victim the sea ceased from its raging. But is that all? What of Jonah? If left to the consequences of the death he has accepted, he must perish; but here is exactly where the blessed God comes in, and that in a way worthy of Himself. He does not remit the sentence; to do so would be to clear the guilty; but He does bring salvation, and this is grace — a salvation, too, which, while it maintains all the righteous character of God, and vindicates Him to the uttermost, most blessedly delivers the sinner from all the consequences of his rebellion against God. And so we read, "Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah!" In the life of another, which can go down into the element where Jonah could not live, the prophet is saved. Beautiful type of the salvation of Him who in grace took our judgment and endured it! He who alone could bear it went into death — passed through its dark raging flood for us. And so Jonah's sin is all that is left in the bottom of the sea, and left there for ever. Thus, in this scripture, we have a striking picture of man's rebellion and God's salvation. On man's side, as in the case of Jonah, nothing but selfwill, independence, indifference, death; on God's side, a compassion that can move the very elements to awaken the sleeper to a sense of his danger, and a grace which provides a salvation, so complete, so perfect, so full, that while He is demonstrated to be just there is also deliverance for the sinner; the sin is judged, and the perishing one is saved. W. T. T.
"Rest . . . . Rest"
There is something very remarkable in the place we find those well-known verses, and there is a great contrast between what the blessed Lord proposes to the soul in them and His own circumstances at that moment. Indeed, it is this, I feel certain, that clothes them with the beauty that surrounds them. The Lord called around Himself His twelve disciples, and instructed them in view of all that lay before them in their path. This occupies chapter 10. As soon as He had finished, He Himself departed to teach and preach; for He was, while on earth, not only the faithful servant of Jehovah, but the unwearied servant of men, ministering to all the needy around Him.
John the Baptist, Christ's messenger, who was in prison, heard of His works; and, forgetting that it was not the day of Christ's power as yet, but the day of His grace, he allows a doubt to cross his heart. Can this be the Messiah of Israel after all? "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" The Lord, in sending His answer, refers John to the works, which were those which only the Messiah could do; but it must have been a grief to the heart of Christ to find the confidence of His forerunner and messenger thus shaken.
Next, the state of the nation of Israel, His own people, passed before His heart and grieved Him. He compares them to "children sitting in the market, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, 'We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.'" Israel would not have the ministry of either John the Baptist or Christ — they cast the one into prison, and in the end they crucified Christ. John the Baptist came and preached law, and they refused him; Christ came and preached grace, and they cast Him out. What a picture of the heart of man!
Then there were places on earth which witnessed Christ's mighty works — places where His glory shone out in a remarkable way — Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum. His thoughts turn with sadness to such, as He announces the woe which rests on abused and despised privilege; the heaven-exalted Capernaum should become the hell-doomed city. Reader, I entreat you to ponder such deeply solemn words as these, uttered by the sorrowing Saviour, in regard to slighted opportunities and despised long-suffering. Never was there a period like this in the history of Christ as a man on earth, when His labour seemed so in vain — doubted by John, refused by Israel, despised in the scenes of His mightiest works. Yet at this moment it is He rises in the perfection of a man whose meat it was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and He says, "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father; and no man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." And then it is, having let us, as it were, into the divine secret, He comes out with words which have fallen as healing balm upon many a troubled heart "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will rest you." It is now no longer a question of responsibility to accept or receive; it is free sovereign grace that acts from itself and for itself, finding the weary and burdened that it may rest them. Oh, how blessed all this is! Say, my reader, does it meet you? He who spoke those words knew what man was, what the world was, what the most privileged were. He knew that in a scene in which God was not, where His name had been dishonoured and His grace refused, there was weariness and there were burdens enough, but rest there was none. He Himself stands here as the only One in whom there is a place for the sole of the foot to rest on; and, looking out over all time since, and poor breaking hearts in it, He says, "Come to me." The invitation is world-wide; those to whom it is addressed are found everywhere, "Ye that labour and are heavy laden." He knew what that was, and He alone could meet it. Reader, does it not suit you? You cannot deny it — however you may despise or refuse, you cannot say it does not suit you. I would here seek to meet one who says, "Well, what you say is very true; but I am greatly troubled by another little word of Christ which often comes up before me, namely, 'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;' and I begin to think within myself, am I given of the Father to Christ? and so my burdens and labour of soul are increased." Reader, is this your state? If so, the way out of your difficulty is simple, and the end of your sorrow of heart near at hand; for do you not see that there is no condition or qualification — it is simply, "Come unto me," and going to Jesus is the proof of the Father's giving and drawing. It is to Himself I go, for He says, "Come." He does not say how He will give me rest. He presents Himself, and the rest for my poor sin-stricken soul and sin-burdened conscience is in connection with Himself and the revelation of the Father. He never said "come" until He Himself had come first from heaven to earth, that He might be in this sense "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Reader, are you seeking rest? "Come unto me, and I will rest you."
The second rest is a further and needed thing too. It is connected with submission, with taking Christ's yoke upon us — it is rest after rest. But my business is at present with the first rest; it must be known first. Dear reader, most earnestly do I desire it for you. If you have never had it, you are, like Noah's dove, out of the ark, in a scene of judgment, without a spot for the sole of your foot to rest on. Safety, rest, peace and plenty were inside the ark; destruction, death, restlessness, and sorrow outside.
He who, when on earth, stood and said, "Come unto me," has since passed through death and the grave, and ascended up on high. In His death, He put away sin; in His resurrection, He proclaimed peace; from glory, where He is, He speaks. He is the same; death has not changed Him; glory has not changed Him. Rest is what you want, reader; it is in Him, and He says, "Come." May the beauty and attractiveness of Himself so surround you, so fill your heart, that, forgetting your feelings, sins, and sorrows, you may rise and go to Jesus, who is "a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat" — the only island of rest in the midst of an ocean of perpetual trouble. W. T. T.
"The Glorious Gospel of the Blessed God"
I was asked the other day to call and see an old pensioner, who, I was told, was dying, and apparently unsaved. He was able to speak but little on account of his cough, but he seemed very intelligently to enter into what I said to him. The Lord enabled me to tell him the gospel very simply and fully; and in doing so, I made use of the following illustration: —
"Suppose," I said, "a soldier was sentenced to be flogged for breach of discipline, and the colonel's son came to his father and used his influence to get the sentence cancelled, wouldn't you understand it if, although there were no reason why the culprit should not be punished, the colonel let him go entirely free for his son's sake? Now," I went on to say, "is not that like the gospel? There is no reason in the sinner why God should not condemn him, but He forgives him for the sake of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ."
"Yes," said the old man, "I see it — that's just it."
That is just it — just the only gospel most people know of, a gospel wanting in all that is indeed good news to an awakened conscience. It would be more like it, as I explained to the sick old man (and perhaps the illustration may pass here, far-fetched and imperfect though it be), it would be more like the gospel if the colonel's son, at his father's request, bared his own back to receive the lashes, and thus secured the soldier's pardon.
"The glorious gospel of the blessed God" — and it well deserves the name — is, that God found us in our sins, and righteously condemned us for them; found us estranged from Him, and enmity against Him; and yet, when there was no eye but His own to pity, and no other arm to save, He gave up His only-begotten Son, the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person; and He came down into the midst of our trials, and was Himself the Man of sorrows. He was a reproach of men, and despised of the people, the song of the drunkard; and through all this He manifested what God was to the sinner. He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed, for God was with Him.
But in all this, though it makes glad the heart, the conscience seeks in vain a resting-place. Turn your thoughts to the cross of Calvary, and behold there the righteous ground of the sinner's pardon, and the unchanging ground of his peace. Stand by faith before that cross, and though all seem dark to the soul, hearken to that bitter cry that pierces thus the darkness, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" Oh, what is this! the "despised and rejected of men," at last forsaken by His God! Yes, forsaken, because of the sin He bore — the sin of the sinner whom He came to save. The Holy One of God, He who knew no sin, made sin for us! (Deut. 21:23; marg. 2 Cor. 5:21.) Oh, weary hearts, troubled consciences, here is a calm and secure resting-place, and you need no dove's wings to bring you hither! This same Jesus is risen from the dead, and has sat down on high, having "by himself purged our sins;" and He is there the proof that they are purged. Look off, then, right off to Him, and in spite of cold heart, dead affections, want of feelings, want of everything you think you ought to have, say it out calmly, fearlessly, with the eye resting upon the risen Christ, "who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." (1 Peter 2:24.) And why not add, — "by whose stripes I am healed"!
"He is Our Peace"In Thy death my soul reposes,
"Salvation, Liberty, Food and Safety"
This beautiful scripture brings before us, first, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; next, His actings in grace. It is a great thing to know who He is, and what He is, who laid down His life for the sheep, and has put them for security in His hand. This, then, is what we learn in the commencement of John 10; Christ simply declares Himself here to be the true Messiah of Israel, the One who should come. He it was who entered by the door into the sheepfold; that is, He came by divine appointment and sanction to be the Shepherd of Israel, who were the people of God's pasture, and the sheep of His hand. He did not climb up some other way, as all the false ones did; they were at best but thieves and robbers, claiming unlawfully that to which they had no right. Not so Christ. He came in by the door, submitting to every rule and ordinance appointed by the owner of the flock — the Jehovah of Israel. Beloved reader, how blessed to think of Him, the eternal Son of God as He was, yet He comes down and humbles Himself to be a man, and as a man submits Himself perfectly! But Israel would not have Him; they slighted, despised, and rejected Him. So He leaves. He goes outside the fold of Israel, the enclosure which was peculiar to it. This is what is meant by "He goeth before them" — as rejected and despised of His own people. He Himself goes first, and then He puts forth His own sheep, and they follow Him, for they know His voice. This was exactly the case of the blind man in the 9th chapter, who was cast out, and had been found by Jesus. What a blessed Shepherd by whom we are led and fed! How good to be under His care outside all man's religion, and the whole array of those ordinances which belonged to Israel!
Having thus set Himself forth in this way — His person the only ground of connection with God — He then opens out most blessedly what it is that replaces the old Jewish thing, Himself the foundation and accomplisher of it.
First — There is salvation. "By Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved." He now presents Himself as the door. He, and He alone is the door; to enter in by that door was to be saved. He had laid down His life, costly and precious as it was. His blood was shed. It was His own voluntary act to shed His blood, lay down His life; no one had taken it from Him. As to necessity, there was none on His side, save indeed that blessed love of His, which would remove every barrier to its full expression.
Again, think of Him in contrast with a hireling. The hour of danger or of difficulty would find the latter thinking of himself, Him, the Shepherd of His sheep. If He then interposes, if He lays down His life, sheds His blood, the first thing that meets us at the door is salvation. "By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved."
Again, there is also liberty. " He shall go in and out." Slavery and bondage is the birthright of every child of Adam. He is born into the world a slave. The moment he has to do with Christ, he is met with salvation and liberty — he is liberated, he is free, and there is also food — "shall find pasture." Oh, for ability to describe the richness of the food! Saved, liberated, brought into a region where want is unknown — "I shall not want." Not only this, but filled, satisfied; and hence it is "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." And observe, it is, "if any man enter in." It is not only now the children of Abraham, the nation of Israel; the door of grace in Himself is wide open to all. Will you say, my reader, if you know what it is to be blessed in this way under this gracious Shepherd Lord? Have you had to do with Him? It must be He; for it is "by Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved." Oh, what a contrast to all our purely natural thoughts of God and His Christ! What a contrast to all that was to be found in the law or ordinances! Neither the one nor the other could carry the first need to a poor outcast of either Jew or Gentile. The law required, not saved — the law brought in death, not life — but, "by Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved;" and "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly," is grace in its fulness.
Once more: we have here also eternal security. The life which Christ gives is eternal everlasting; but not this only, for of His sheep He says, "they shall never perish." But, then, where will He put them to secure them against enemies from without? He makes them as strong outside as inside. No weakness within could endanger, for it was "eternal life," He gave, and no enemy outside could harm them, for He has the sheep in His hand. The hand that was nailed to the cross is the secure shelter and rest for all the sheep. Oh, what contrasts are awakened in the soul as we read that word, "My hand" — "My Father's hand!" Not the walls and barriers, the laws and ordinances of Israel of old, the fold; but His hand, His Father's hand. The thought of their security is linked with the eternal power of God, for the sheep are in His Father's hand. "I and my Father are one." Could anything be more wonderful than the infinite grace, boundless love, and almighty power which are all in Christ, in His own Person exclusively, and yet wide enough, most surely; for it is, "by me if any man enter in;" and Christ is here all, and in contrast with all. It is no longer the ancient sheepfold of Israel, with its walls and ordinances, but the Person of the Christ, the Good Shepherd, the living Lord, who died; and it is Himself in contrast with the thief, the robber, and the hireling — they seeking to enrich themselves, or to escape danger, at the expense of the sheep, He, in that blessed, peculiar love of His, giving His life for the sheep. It is no longer Judaism, but salvation, liberty, food, and eternal security; it is no longer the darkness of death, but the light of life. Oh, reader, have you had personally to do with Christ? Have you by Him, the door, entered in? Have you turned away from yourself, your sins, and your sorrows, as well as your goodness, and gone to Jesus? Has He not made good a claim on your heart?
The Lord, by His Spirit, set Him in all the attractiveness of His grace so before you, that you may by Him enter in, and so know the richness and fulness of that salvation, liberty, food, and security which are in Him and by Him.
"When blood from a victim must flow,
This Shepherd, by pity, was led
To stand between us and the foe,
And willingly died in our stead.
Our song, then, for ever shall be
Of the Shepherd who gave Himself thus;
No subject's so glorious as He,
No theme so affecting to us."
W. T. T.
"I Shall Lie Down Happy To-night!"
One day, while visiting the poor women in the workhouse of a large town, I was more disheartened than ever by the amazing ignorance and lack of interest shown by the poor creatures in the things which concern salvation. They lay there in the different stages of their various diseases, some in great pain, others in comparative ease, but almost all utterly careless of a future state. True, there were now and then bright spots in this dreary scene, and a little conversation with one of God's children (of whom a few are to be found even here) was most cheering and refreshing. But the greater number of those to whom I spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His glorious work for poor sinners, either turned the conversation to other topics — sufferings, troubles, or private affairs — or else, by their replies, showed they did not in the least understand what I was saying; or, by answering as they supposed I wished, thought to get rid of me the sooner. Feeling very much troubled by all this, I came to the bedside of one whom I knew to be a true believer in the Lord Jesus. She had lately had a stroke of paralysis, and though in some measure recovering, her speech was almost unintelligible. However, I understood that she would like me to read to her, which I did, taking part of the 9th and 10th chapters of Hebrews. We afterwards had a little conversation together, and then I left her, much refreshed and strengthened for my work.
There lay a poor woman in the opposite bed, to whom I had never before spoken, but that day I went up to her, and asked her if she had found peace, or on what foundation she was building for salvation. She told me she was trying to do her best, and be a good woman; that she was ninety years old, and her mother had lived to be a hundred, and that she had never done any one any harm, and she thanked the Lord for having given her such a long life. "But," said I, "do you know what God said when He looked down out of heaven upon every one? He said, There is none that doeth good; no, not one.' And, you know, He saw the good ones, as we call them, as well as the bad; and yet He said there was not one good." "Oh, no," said the old woman, "I know there are none good; I wouldn't trust in anybody." "Well, but, my friend," I said, "you are trusting to yourself to be good, though God says there are none good." She repeated once more that she would not trust any one; that she had done no harm, and had always tried to be a good woman; and all this in a sort of querulous, complaining voice. We had some further conversation, in which I endeavoured to show her how useless works were towards the attainment of everlasting life; and at last I left her, more hopeless than ever, and strongly inclined to give up visiting at the workhouse, thinking it could not be the work intended for me. I laid the matter before the Lord, and asked Him to send me, if He would have me go, and the next week I went again. When the old woman recognised me, she began saying, "I have been thinking about what you told me, and I read the little book; and, oh, I'm ninety years old; do come and talk to me." These were the words, as nearly as I can remember. There was not a word this time about her attempts to make herself better, but the utmost agony at the thought of her great age, and consequent nearness to death, for which she felt herself unprepared. I therefore spoke to her of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, and repeated to her several times the well-known lines —
"Nothing, either great or small — nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus did it — did it all — long, long ago."
The last two lines I said over many times as distinctly as possible, for the old woman was very deaf. I told her how the work had been all done for her more than eighteen hundred years ago; how the Lord Jesus Christ had "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," and that through this Man is preached the forgiveness of sins, etc. I spoke to her very earnestly in this way for some time — the poor creature sitting up in her bed silently listening, with a look of great interest. At last she lay back on her pillow, saying, in a tone of complete satisfaction and rest, "I shall lie down happy to-night!" Shortly after this I left her, feeling very much happier on her account, but scarcely daring to think she had already found rest in the Lord. On visiting her the next week, I inquired if she was still happy. She replied, "I have been happy ever since you told me." I asked, "What makes you happy; is it because you know all your sins are forgiven?" She said, "That's it; I've been happy ever since you told me." And then she began thanking and blessing me for having spoken to her, adding, in a childlike, simple manner, "and I don't think I should mind if I were to die now." I told her it was God who had sent her the message, and she must thank Him; and that now, indeed, she could bless Him for the long life He had given her, but more especially for having discovered Himself to her as a "just God and a Saviour." The last time I saw her, before leaving the town, she was still happy, praising and blessing the Lord for having called her "out of darkness into his marvellous light."
Crucifixion and Mortification
"Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it." What rest there is in this! It is the perfection of God, and of His work, which is the very essence of the gospel, and which gives such solidity to the heart of the believer in Christ.
"By one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified." "Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." He came, indeed, to do the will of God: "by the which will we are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once." It is a perfect atonement, for it avails for the "sin of the world." It is a finished work, for it can never, nor need ever, be repeated.
Christ crucified for sinners is the foundation of the gospel message; it is also the foundation of the sinner's peace. His work is indeed the very work of God. One mind and purpose were in the Father and the Son in counsel; one heart in the carrying out the work of redemption; and it is "for ever." "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." The heart that trusts Christ's finished work, trusts that which, for time and for eternity, has met its deepest need.
But not only does the cross represent the death of Christ for the sinner when he believes, it also necessarily represents the penalty due to the sinner himself. If death and judgment be the sinner's due, whether that penalty be borne by himself, or by his substitute, it is still his penalty that is paid, and, as the penalty is death, it is virtually his death. Christ died not for His own (for He was without sin), but for the sins of others. In believing, then, we acknowledge that death is the "due reward of our deeds," the "wages of our sin," and we see the blessed Lord in love dying that very death for us upon the cross. When faith grasps this fuller view of substitution — of the atoning work of Christ — it can say, indeed, with Paul, "Our old man was crucified with him" (Rom. 6:6); and, again, "I am crucified with Christ." (Gal. 2:20.) His cross thus becomes mine, His death mine. By faith I identify myself with Him there, and rest in the certainty that the judgment of God which passed upon Him there has for ever passed away from me. "I am crucified with Christ." Can this act be repeated? Never. Christ can never be crucified again. "In that he died, he died unto sin once." The work of atonement has once and for ever been accomplished by Him, and God has once and for ever "laid on him the iniquities of us all." "He bare our sins in his own body on the tree."
Thus we find that the word of God contemplates the believer's crucifixion with Christ as a completed and never to be repeated act. He died once, and we were then, and there, and for ever identified with Him; and so it is said, "I am crucified with Christ." "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh." "By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." "Our old man was crucified with him." Deeply important it is for the peace and establishment of our souls to grasp these conclusive statements of God's word. The believer is never told to crucify himself or his flesh; it is always accounted to have been accomplished. "Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever."
But we may be asked, Are not the flesh and its workings to be subdued, and is there not a continual and necessary conflict to be maintained? Yes, most assuredly, is the reply; and for this very reason, that we can already say, we are "crucified with Christ." Because, by faith, we reckon ourselves dead with Him, and so, "dead unto sin," we are called on to "mortify our members which are upon earth," but not to crucify them.
In the sight of God, and in our account by faith, we are crucified with Christ — never without Him. His crucifixion was ours. If we endured for ourselves what He on the cross endured for us, it would be eternal condemnation to us. But as to the "members which are upon the earth," they are not said to be crucified. The old mortal body and its members, prone to evil, are yet present, and they have to be subdued. "Mortification," is the process by which they are to be controlled. "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." (Rom. 8:13.) "Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth." To mortify is to put to death. We cannot put to death what is already dead. Mortification, then, is a perpetual killing, if one may so say, of the members and of their deeds.
The believer can say, Because my old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth I might not serve sin, because God, in His infinite grace, has reckoned the death of Christ to my account, and I am in His sight as one who has died to sin — has died with Christ; because of this precious and peace-giving truth, I will with gladness and determination mortify every motion of sin in these members of my body which are yet upon the earth. By the power of the Spirit who dwells in me through God's grace, and who enables me to judge between flesh and Spirit, between good and evil, between the precious and the vile, I will bring the cross of Christ (whereon He died for me) to bear upon everything with which I come in contact, and on all the motives and desires of my heart and of my mind, and "bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus," will treat as worthy only of death all the workings of the flesh in my members, whether in thought, or word, or deed.
May God grant, then, to our readers to grasp the difference between "crucifixion" — Christ's finished work for us, the blessed and peace-giving truth of identification with Him on the cross, who hath loved us, and given Himself for us — and "mortification," the daily and hourly subduing, by the only divinely-appointed or possible means, of the workings of sin in the members. For, beloved friends, by death, and death alone, can the old man escape judgment, and this is by crucifixion. By death alone can sin in the members be overcome and subdued, and this is by mortification.
"Knowing this, that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace." (Rom. 6:9-14.)
H. C. G. B.
Simeon; or, the Reception of Christ
There are two things which are very distinct in connection with the reception of Christ. In the gospel a Person is set before us. Paul says, "It pleased God to reveal his Son in me." And there are two distinct things connected with this: one is, a renunciation of the state you are in; the other, an unfolding of that to which you have come. Simeon (Luke 2) is an instance of this. He turns his back on everything in connection with the hopes of man. When he has the Saviour in his arms, he says, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." It is an immense thing for the soul to understand what the reception of Christ means. Paul's word to the jailer is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." A Person is brought in. The more truly I have received Christ, the more I must abandon that which is antagonistic to Christ. It is not merely to say, "I believe," and to go on as usual — that is impossible. What I really receive must characterise me. It so characterised Simeon, that he can completely surrender everything of man's hopes and fears, and say, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
What a wondrous thing it is that God has sent His Son to bear the judgment that rested upon us! Instead of holding to that man on whom the judgment lay, I receive the One who bore the judgment, and delivered me out of it.
When the Israelites were coming out of Egypt, the blood of the lamb was put outside the door. That tells what the history of grace is. But are they to go on as usual in Egypt? No; they are brought clean out of Egypt. They first put the blood of the lamb outside, to meet the eyes of the Judge, and with it came the death of the Egyptian firstborn. Death was destroying the grasp of thraldom! But the people of God at the same time are eating the lamb, and in the strength of it they are driven out of Egypt; but they never are out of fear until they are across the Red Sea, and they see the Egyptians dead on the shore. In Christ I am clean away from the thing from which He has saved me, and the more I realise this, the more I shall value it. A person who never had bad health does not value health as does the one who has recovered. He who has got new and good health is delivered from the bad health, and he is careful of his health, because he knows what it is to lose it. A person who believes in Christ must break with the first-born of Egypt, that is, the sinful man who is under judgment. The Israelites knew what Egypt was, and never were happy until they were all clean out of reach of the Egyptians. The further they got away the better, for they do not reach up to the purpose of God for them until they are across Jordan. When they come to Jordan (Joshua 3) they see the ark in it, and they pass clean over. Do you shrink from death? If you do, it is because you are looking at it instead of at the ark. Death was nothing to Simeon. He takes the child in his arms, and says, "Mine eyes have seen thy salvation." I have the Saviour in my arms. I am clean done with everything.
God gave His Son. He was a man here on earth, and in death He bore the judgment that lay on man, to remove it from the believer, and to transfer him from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of the Son of His love, "to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." Are you blind, or have you been blind? If a blind man were assured that he could recover his sight, he would submit to any sacrifice to secure it, and, after he had recovered it, surely he would shrink from everything that would injure his sight again? The glory of that light made Paul blind. The light of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, shone into his soul; and could Saul receive this light, and continue as he was before? Surely not! As light is distinct and separate from darkness, so is a soul that receives Christ morally separate from all that is not of Christ.
Do you think it melancholy — was it melancholy for Simeon to close his eyes on this scene when Jesus was in his arms? Was it melancholy for Paul to turn from this scene when he saw the glory of that light? Or for Stephen, when he saw the glory of God and Jesus? You may say that is an advanced state; but Saul of Tarsus was not advanced when he began his course thus.
How differently the heart would be affected by the Lord's grace towards us, if the soul had the consciousness that not only is there a work done for me, but the Person who did the work occupies my heart. As the apostle puts it, "it pleased God to reveal his Son in me." It was not melancholy to Paul. On the contrary, he says, "I live Christ." It is not merely the effect of a thing done, but "Christ liveth in me," and that in the very scene where I am. It was not that Saul was improved, but a new plant, a Plant of Renown, was in him, and he has this One, and no other, before him. Oh! does not your heart tell you if you had this One — if, like Simeon, you so possessed Christ — what a place and what a portion it would be! It is impossible to receive Christ, and to go on in the world. In receiving Him the whole thing is changed — there is a new plant, a new Person in you. Christ is formed in you. It may be small at first. The largest oak was once very small. But if you accept Christ, you cannot go on as you were before. He diverts you from everything that you are as a natural man. The thief on the cross gave up himself when he turned to the Man who had done nothing amiss. Self is the great thing to give up, the sum of everything. He dropped himself, and took up Christ. Christ was the one absolutely before his soul. You cannot enjoy the thing from which you have been delivered, and hold to the One who has delivered you. Impossible! Simeon is told that he shall not see death until he has seen the Lord's Christ; and the effect of grace in his soul leads him to say, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." He is done with all connected with this scene, and his eyes are filled with the glory of the Saviour. "Christ in him the hope of glory." "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God."
It is not a sad thing. The light of the glory of Christ is above the brightness of the sun. Had you that light shining into your heart, you would find that the brightness of the sun in nature was surpassed and eclipsed! If you have received the light which is above the brightness of the sun, you are not to be pitied because other lights are gone out. He only is to be pitied who has not got it, and has only the sparks of his own kindling. J. B. S.
She Fell Asleep
The following derives all its interest from the remarkable leading of God's Spirit in bringing the writer and subject of this paper together a very few days before the Lord took her home to Himself. She was a child of sorrow and suffering indeed, the mother of a family, all of whom had fallen under death's hand, leaving herself and her partner a solitary couple. The weight of her sorrow pressed her down, and disease of a trying nature began to develop itself. Living now next door to her, and seeing the frequent visits of the medical attendant, and occasionally the clergyman of the parish, I felt a deep interest, and a yearning anxiety, which they only know who have had it, as to her true state and condition. Did she know a Saviour's love? — was she looking to Him? — was the prospect before her dark or bright? — were often weighed questions in my mind; and many a time did I speak to the Lord about her, and found my only solace and comfort there; for I should say this pressure on my spirit about one of whom I had known nothing personally, and whom I had never seen, was new to me; for I am not an evangelist, in the true sense of the word, though I greatly desire to have a deeper interest in, and concern for, souls.
Thus matters went on for weeks, until at last, on my return home one afternoon, I heard she was much worse, and that death was evidently very near. After looking to the Lord, I sat down and wrote a very few lines to her husband, asking for her, expressing my deep sympathy for him, and also the earnest hope that she knew the Saviour, whose blood cleanseth from all sin; adding, that I myself, as a poor needy one, had known what it was to trust Him. I had occasion to make a call a little way from the house, and on my return, found that she had meanwhile sent a message to me, requesting me to call and see her. I hastened to her bedside, and, as I took her hand, she said with great earnestness, "Oh, I have been longing for some weeks to see you, and now I feel so thankful the Lord has sent you to help me on my way." As it was advanced in the evening, and she was very weak, I did not remain long with her. When leaving, she requested me to see her again next morning. I did so, and again the same evening, and so on, almost each day until she fell asleep. From the first evening I saw her, I found out that she was a soul awakened to a sense of her need of Christ and His sufficiency for the deepest need. I have since found out that the gracious Lord wrought this in her in various ways, mostly, perhaps, through sorrow and family bereavement, of which she had no small share. I was in nowise instrumental in this; but I had the joy of seeing in her the power of God's delivering grace and the blessedness of His word, in quieting her natural fear of death. One little circumstance of this kind I may record: she expressed to me, on one occasion, her fear in prospect of death; not, she said most decidedly, as to her acceptance in any way, but she had a shrinking from death and the suffering of it. The nature of her disease, too, was very likely to lead to such suffering. I read her part of Joshua 3, calling her attention to the fact, that when the children of Israel were crossing Jordan, it was on the ark, not on the waters of the river, their eyes and thoughts were to be fixed. "When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it." As soon as I had finished, she said with great earnestness, "That ark is Christ." I said, "Thank God, it is so." She never lost sight of that, and it comforted her many a time afterwards. The last time I saw her she had all her family around her bedside. It was the last time they saw her. She herself wished and arranged it so. Her simple acknowledgment of perfect confidence in Christ, and rest in Him, was very sweet. And then she asked for the hymn —
"How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear;
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear."
And the earnest way in which she sang it, weak though she was, and exhausted, was very touching. This was my last visit to her. I called, as usual, next day, but she was unable to see me; and that evening, without the struggle she at first dreaded, peacefully and calmly she fell asleep, so quietly, so gently, that "they thought her dying when she slept, and sleeping when she died."
Reader, do you know that Saviour who shed His blood? What is all the world to you, if you have not Christ? Where are you going to spend your eternity? Reader, Christ is coming; are you ready? Or death is at hand; are you ready? "He that hath the Son hath life." Have you? W. T. T.
Christ Our Peace; or the Only Foundation
And now, believing in the name of the Son of God, and simply resting on the faithful word, you can say, "My sins are forgiven. I have eternal life. I am saved." Praise the Lord! Even now there is joy over you in the presence of the angels. And no wonder! Saved from such a hell! Saved for such a glory! Not only forgiven, but made righteous, justified from all things
God your Father! Christ yours! and the Comforter to dwell within you! For, having believed in Christ, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of full redemption, when the Lord Jesus will come back again to take us to Himself, to be ever with Him and like Him, to see Him as He is, to behold His glory. Lift up your heart to Him in praise!
But remember the ground of all this. Our one resting-place is Christ — not our joy, or love, or inward feelings. Nothing connected with self can be a ground of peace with God. Jesus Christ Himself is our peace. And it is not frames or feelings that bring us the knowledge of peace — no, nor even the fruits of the Holy Spirit in us; but the testimony of the Holy Spirit to Christ. Sin was the cause of the enmity between us and God; the blood of Christ has put away sin, and so made peace. But it is easy to say, "Christ is my peace — I rest only on the word" — when the heart is filled with love, and joy, and praise. How will it be if your heart grow cold, and your joy have ebbed, and all seem dead within? Oh! beware of the wiles by which Satan will then try to make you doubt God. Will you listen to the Tempter, and begin to say within yourself, "I thought I was a Christian, I felt such peace, and love, and joy; I had such delight in the word and in prayer; but now I fear it was all a delusion. I was deceiving myself." Or will you then boldly stand by the word of God, and give the lie to every sinful doubt? Oh! forget not that Christ, and not self, is the ground of peace. Self may change, but Christ never; feelings may fluctuate, but the faithful Word is still the same.
Our "old man," that is, the nature we have received from Adam by natural descent, is "corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;" and think not that it has been changed in your conversion. It will remain with you unchanged, lusting against the spirit, and contrary to the spirit, till you lay down the body in death, or until the Lord come. (Eph. 4:22; Gal. 5:17.) But God tells you that He has searched to its depths the filthy source of all your sins, and knowing all, He has loved you and saved you. You, however, are ignorant of the extent of your sinfulness; and, as day by day you make fresh discoveries of it, Satan will try to stumble you.
God points you to the cross as the ground of peace with regard to all; for there, not only has condemnation passed upon your sins, but God has dealt in judgment with yourself as a child of Adam, and all your responsibilities have been met, and every claim against you satisfied in death. God has gone into the whole question of the sin of your very nature, the polluted source of every transgression, and He has once and for ever settled it.
Be sure that Satan will struggle hard to gain this point against you; but cling to the truth of God — "Christ for me, my peace." And if he fail to raise within you a fear of condemnation, he will try a yet more subtle device, and point to your sin as a proof that you are not fit for heaven, not holy enough to meet God; and thus set you to spin out for yourself a kind of spurious holiness, without either power to enable you to be holy, or blessing in the attempt.
When such temptations and assaults of Satan come upon you, remember the one solid, unchanging ground of confidence, "He is our peace" — "having made peace by the blood of his cross." What shall we say then to these things? "If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:31-39.)
The Touch of Faith
Oh, who is that among the throng,
Who so calmly walks alone,
Love resting in His face?
'Tis Christ the Lord, God's blessed Son,
Responding to the call of one
Who needs His healing grace.
One, too, there is amid that crowd,
Beneath the weight of suffering bow'd,
Unknown to all beside.
For twelve long years she bore her pain,
Spent all she had, could nothing gain,
Till Jesus she descried.
But when she sees Him drawing near,
How bounds her heart with hope and cheer,
Resolved the crowd to brave!
To touch that bless'd One's garment's hem
She knows is to "be whole;" — and then —
The touch of faith she gave.
Immediately her pains depart,
What joy, what comfort fills her heart!
She would not have it known!
She little thought that feeble touch
Had cheer'd her Saviour's heart as much
As it had heal'd her own.
He felt the virtue flowing o'er
That He was trusted, which was more
Than aught she e'er could do.
And can He let the heal'd one go
Without a word or look to show
That He had loved her too?
He will not heed the callous press,
He longs to hear her lips confess
The secret of her soul.
To tell Him is to get release,
His gracious answer, — "Go in peace,
Thy faith hath made thee whole."
Lord Jesus! Thou art still the same
As when that lowly woman came
To have her pain removed.
Since Thou ascendedst to Thy throne,
How many a heart, unseen, unknown,
Thy healing power has proved!
Yes! now the streams of virtue flow
Unhinder'd, for our sin and woe —
Has all been borne by Thee.
God's glory in Thy face doth shine
While righteousness and grace combine
To set the suff'rer free.
The feeblest look of faith on Thee
Secures salvation full and free,
And gives Thee joy and cheer,
As much in glory bright above,
As in Thy walk of lowly love,
The "Man of Sorrows" here.
"Is it Peace?"
2 Kings 9:17.
One of the most important questions that could possibly engage the attention of a man stands at the head of this paper, and yet it would seem that in proportion to its importance is the indifference with which fallen man treats it.
Not so the world, with regard to its interests, or kingdoms and nations, respecting their welfare; wise and far-seeing with reference to time, man is a fool, and plays the fool, in the things of God and of eternity. Peace is the great desire of nations, to maintain it on honourable terms with surrounding neighbours is the great desire of every well-ordered State; and to live in peace with his neighbours and friends is the mark of a great and good man. How often and anxiously breathed was the word "peace" lately! How desired and longed for, both by conquerors and conquered! And when at last it came, how was it not flashed along the telegraph wire from country to country, and from continent to continent! What interest and anxiety, long on the watch, did it not find in every land! Alas, how different if I speak about "peace with God!" — a peace which Christ made by the blood of His cross; a peace which nothing can break; a peace, without which man is miserable in life, and hopeless in death. Reader, "is it peace" with you? If not, give me your attention for a little.
First. Let me tell you what peace is not. A truce is not peace; it may be very well so long as it lasts, but it is not intended to be permanent or lasting. It is, at best, but a temporary abstaining from hostilities by the mutual consent of two contending powers, and as soon as the prescribed limit is passed, war and bloodshed break out as terrible and destructive as ever.
Again. Gaining victories is not peace; it is, on the contrary, a proof that hostilities are going on, though one may be victorious in them. What, then, is peace, if it be not a truce, or gaining the day, as we say?
Peace is the complete and final overthrow of every hostile foe, so that there is no enemy to show. We shall take two illustrations; the first you will find in Exodus 15, where the children of Israel celebrate the triumphs of Jehovah over all their enemies. "I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation." . . . . "Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone." The 30th verse of chapter 14 tells you the spring of this note of praise, namely, "Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore."
There was no enemy to lift up his head; all their enemies, the glory and flower of Egypt, had gone down like "lead in the mighty waters." They are a liberated people; they have seen the salvation of the Lord; consequently they can celebrate its triumphs. But observe the point of importance. There was no enemy to lift up his head, and for this simple reason, there were none left; the mighty waters of the Red Sea, through which Israel passed in safety, returned and flowed over the glory of Egypt. "The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them."
Let us now look at a more magnificent victory and triumph; you will find the account of it in John 20. The Lord Jesus Christ is the victor, and sin, death and hell the vanquished. It is a wonderful sight. He is standing above all that He has risen out of, in the magnificence of His triumph! He had been under death and judgment, though not for Himself. The whole array of hostile enemies had put forth their might against Him, and He, blessed One, in the matchless grace of His own nature, had given Himself to meet it all; and He did meet it, and that perfectly, in His cross, glorifying God so perfectly, that the glory of the Father "raised him up from the dead, and glorified him, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenlies;" in His cross putting away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, as well as through death; destroying him that had the power of death. In John 20, then, He is seen standing in the fulness of His triumph, dispensing the spoils of victory, and His first word to the assembled disciples is, "Peace." It announced the overthrow of all their hostile foes, and proclaimed the fulness of His victory; but He goes further, for He not only announces peace, but likewise communicates life. He breathed on them, and saith unto them, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Further, if we chose to pursue it, we should find that from Him the victorious risen, ascended One, the Comforter, was sent down to dwell in all who believe in Him. Will you say, reader, what are your thoughts of such a triumph? Are you a partaker of it ? Can you say, as you look up from the empty grave of Jesus to the occupied throne of the Father, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ" ? Not only this, but the consciousness of present favour, the hope of the glory of God filling the heart, while you joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, what a wonderful thing, not only peace of conscience, but peace with God as God is! Reader, "Is it peace?" If not, "acquaint, now thyself with him, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee." For "He is our peace," having "made peace by the blood of his cross."
Reader, are you indifferent, thoughtless, careless? Listen! "When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them . . . . and they shall not escape." The Lord in His mercy grant you so to know Him, that your heart shall be full, yea, even to overflowing! W. T. T.
These are very solemn words. "Having no hope, and without God in the world," is the language used by the Spirit of God when He would describe the condition and position of Gentiles in the flesh, dead in trespasses and sins; and the contrast is equally striking: "In Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off; are made nigh by the blood of Christ." On the one side it is "no hope," and "without God;" on the other side it is "in Christ Jesus" — "made nigh by the blood of Christ."
Not many days since, I was asked to visit a young lad who was supposed to be dying. As soon as I reached his bedside, I found him, in every sense of the word, in a terrible state. He had been, along with his father and other members of his family, working in a mill hard by where he lived, and was keeping his bed just a week the day I saw him. Disease had made dreadful havoc of his body during those six days; a living corpse is the only language suited to describe him. I could see very well, as I sat beside him, that every moment was precious, as he was fast sinking; and I spoke to him earnestly about the Lord Jesus and His finished work, and his own need of such a Saviour. He could not speak much, but to this he said nothing; he only looked about the room with a kind of wild, vacant stare, which truly told a tale for itself. I then spoke to him more personally about his soul, and the prospect before him, when he answered me in the words which stand at the head of this paper. "No hope, no hope!" he said; further, that he had not thought of the Lord all his short life (for he was only eighteen years old), and he did not believe that Christ was then willing to receive him. I endeavoured, from scripture, to set Christ before him in His true character, as well as the sufficiency and fulness of redemption; but, apparently, as far at least as I could judge, to no purpose. With his family, most of whom were present, I knelt by his bedside. My only comfort in such a case was in looking up to the One who is on high. I left him, knowing well I should never see him again, for he was rapidly becoming comatose, the precursor of death; and at six o'clock that evening he breathed his last. What may have taken place in his soul, the Lord alone knows, but he left behind him nothing on which one ray of hope could shine. Reader, where are you? "Without Christ," or "in Christ Jesus," which is it? Remember, the time may not be far distant for you; and if you die in your sins, you are lost for ever. May the Lord, by His Spirit, make use of this solemn, simple circumstance to awaken any careless and Christless one whose eye rests upon it W. T. T.
The Glory of the Cross
Whether we think of God's glory, or Christ's glory, or the practical effect on our hearts, it is Christ's cross, as being a real sacrifice for sin, that is really efficacious. It glorifies God, infinitely honours Christ, and perfectly blesses man, telling him he is the object of God's infinite love, and yet maintaining righteousness in His heart. Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, and, as to His Person, supremely glorious in dignity. This, indeed, enabled Him to do such a work; but never, as to His work and service, was He so glorious as He was upon the cross. I speak to you feebly, beloved reader, but is it not the truth, words, as Paul says, of truth and soberness? And this thing was not done in a corner. And now mark, too, the blessed efficacy of it for me, a poor sinner. There stood sin, death, judgment, just wrath, in my way. My conscience told me it was so, and God's word plainly declares it. Satan's power bound it down, so to speak, upon my soul, while his temptations encouraged me to go on in what led to it. God's law even did but make the matter worse for me, if I pretended to meddle with it, for its holiness condemned my transgressions. And now, for him that believes, all is taken out of the way. Sin gone, death gone, as the terrible thing I awaited — Christ has gone into it. Judgment — Christ has borne it. Wrath — there is none for me; I am assured of perfect love. Christ, in making me partake of the efficacy of His death, has set me, beyond all these things, in the light, as God is in the light — having loved me, and washed me from my sins in His own blood, and made me a king and priest to God and His Father. In rising, He has shown me this new place into which He has brought me; though, as yet, of course, I have it only by faith, and participation in that life in the power of which He has risen. Yes, dear reader, the believer is saved — he has eternal life — he is justified; he waits, no doubt, to be glorified, but he knows Him who has obtained it all for him, and that He is able to keep that which he has committed unto Him until that day.
It is related of the great Bishop Butler that in his closing hours his uneasiness and restlessness manifested itself, and he gave utterance to what passed through his mind, thus: "Though I have tried to avoid sin, and to please God to the utmost of my power, yet, from being conscious of my constant weakness, I am afraid to die." "My lord," said his chaplain, "you forget that Jesus Christ is a Saviour." "True," replied the bishop; "but how shall I know that He is a Saviour for me?" The chaplain replied, "It is written, 'him that cometh to me I will in no wise (ou me) cast out.'" "True," said the bishop, "and I have read that scripture a thousand times, but I never felt its full value till this moment. Stop there, for now I die happy."
I am more than ever struck with the way in which scripture gives prominence to the Person of Christ, as the testimony of the gospel; a Christ who is in the glory of God, having by His death first settled the question of sin. A Christ who is in the glory of God, as the proof that God is completely glorified in the putting away the sins of all who believe in Jesus, and in whose face shines the glory of God, is the Saviour for a poor sinner to-day and for ever. Just think a moment what an immense thing it is to be able to point a sinner to a Saviour in glory; a Saviour who was on the cross, over whose soul all the waves and billows of judgment rolled; who passed through death's dark raging flood, a Saviour who was dead, but who is now "the living One;" a Saviour who now occupies the throne of the Father, soon to be on His own throne.
It was a Saviour that Philip preached; a Saviour the jailer at Philippi received; a Saviour the poor thief on the cross vindicated and trusted in; a Saviour Lord; a Saviour he went to be with that very day in paradise. It was a Saviour in glory who was revealed in the heart of Saul of Tarsus, while he was wasting and persecuting the saints. I have a heart to be satisfied, as well as a conscience to be met. The Saviour whose blood alone can perfectly purge my conscience, can alone meet and satisfy my heart. Such a Saviour says, "Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out." W. T. T.
Sowing and Reaping
What makes this passage so very solemn is, that it is the close, the finish, as we say. This is very serious indeed. The Book of Proverbs refers to the government of God upon the earth; and therefore the judgment here, though of God, and final, does not go beyond judgment in this world. It is man in this world, dealt with in his responsibility.
1st. The call, or voice of God, now comes from the place where Christ is witness to the perfection and completion of His work. Let me say the present call of God is based on the perfection of Christ's finished work. The One who put away sin is now on the heavenly side of the grave. He died unto sin once, now He liveth unto God. Besides, the presence of the Holy Ghost here on earth is a testimony to the completeness and sufficiency of the cross. But, besides all this, the call of God is sent forth in many channels. Did He not speak to you by your recent sorrow? Has that late suffering of yours nothing of God's voice in it? Is there not in your very conscience, at this moment, a voice that tells you that if you were now to die you would be lost for ever? Be assured, reader, God has not left Himself without abundant witness to the patient, long-suffering character of His grace.
2nd. We have here also man's refusal: "I have called, AND YE REFUSED." How solemn this is! Refused is the word the blessed God uses to describe the way in which man treats His call. This refusal does not always take the same shape or form, but refusal it is: sometimes, in so many words, it is an open avowal of dislike to the subject at all costs; very often it is a kind of indifferentism; and most frequently it is a procrastination, which promises to itself a more convenient season — a season, let me add, which in most cases never comes; but let the character be what it may, it all ranks in God's eyes as refusal. "I have called, and ye refused." Reader, if you are still out of Christ, there is a little hell within you at this moment, even as the ebbs and pulsations of the sea within the harbour walls are but an indication, a reminder of the dread roll of the ocean a thousand miles outside. Reader, think of these words; you in your turn calling, but the call is too late. The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and you are not saved. No more insensibility now! no more procrastination now! No gospel no peace, no hope! One voice rolls its long sadness over ages of ages for ever: "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices."
This, as I have stated, is the doom of those who hearken not to wisdom. There was no love, or submission to the truth: their ease and prosperity and carelessness will be their destruction. As regards those who walk in a different road, in wisdom's ways, how striking the contrast! — "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." (Chap. 3:13-17.) W. T. T.
"The Closed Door "Late! late! too late!
God Speaking from Heaven
The apostle contrasts Mount Sinai and Mount Zion, and warns them what the present testimony is. It is a mistake we very often make that we are so many responsible persons going on to judgment, and there must give an account of ourselves. That is true of us, but that is very far from all. There has been a dealing of God with man, and He is now dealing with them for the last time; that makes it the more solemn.
It is not now a question of good and evil in us. What the Lord presents to our souls now is, that that question is all settled; there is none righteous, no, not one; that is the way He is dealing now. If His grace is refused, judgment is pronounced upon their state; that is what I mean by settled. Now, He comes either in judgment or in warning, and if that is slighted there is condemnation. The contrast between the two Mounts is exceedingly striking. People do not believe they are in this state of condemnation. There the law is exceedingly useful in awakening — if they judge of good and evil they cannot judge of what is beyond themselves. Man's judgment is no higher than the evil he has done. A man brought up in dirt sees nothing in dirt; so with the natural mind, it judges according to its own state. God brings in His estimate of what man ought to be. That is what the law is — as a hammer, it breaks the rock in pieces. Therefore, Moses said, "I do exceedingly fear and quake." "Felix trembled," not that he was saved, but the word of God awakened his conscience, because conscience is there. God has dealt probably with every heart here. The word breaks us up, and shows us we are not what God wants; but that is not the will being converted. The flesh abuses everything. God gave the law to convict of sin; man takes it to work out righteousness. But God is not leaving you to the day of judgment; He is dealing with you now, and this is the day of grace.
When the word of God comes home to man — what man really ought to be — who could answer Him one of a thousand? Wherever the word reaches the conscience you see that it is a present dealing; not put off to the day of judgment, because it reaches it now. He knows perfectly well he is not it. You know you have not loved God with all your heart to-day; you have not loved your neighbour as yourself one day in your life. My conscience tells me the law is right — I may kick against it.
You must not have any thought of your own righteousness in the day of judgment, because you have not got any.
The young man in Matthew 19:16 did not say, "What shall I do to be saved?" but "that I may have eternal life." The Lord's answer is, not if you want to be saved, but if you want to live, "This do and live." The young man said, "This I have done, and what lack I yet?" "Sell all, and come follow me." This tested him, for his heart was set on his possessions; he went away from grace. So, in John 8:9, one by one they went away from grace, because they dreaded the eye that could detect them. That is what people do still — they cannot bear conviction. It is getting away from God, because the heart and conscience cannot bear that which comes out in the presence of God. What a terrible thing that is, if your only hope of comfort is to keep away from God — to keep out of His sight!
Verse 22. — We are come, not to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Zion. Zion is a word of immense import, if we have read it spiritually. Zion was not simply mercy and patience. The ark was the only possible means of intercourse with God that Israel had, and they had sent it away; so have we — so to speak — looking at our natural state. The importance of Zion was, that Israel had been already tested and failed. Eli was a godly old man, but did not keep his sons in order, and when he found the ark was taken, that it was all over, he falls back and dies.
You have to be brought to the conviction that it is all over. Then God comes in, not merely in mercy and patience — that He had all through — but God comes in when all the responsibility is closed by the total failure of man, and takes the ark out of the hands of the Philistines, and places it on Mount Zion, by David, as by Christ, now David's seed.
Verses 22, 23. — The whole scene of millennial glory on earth and in heaven is exceedingly interesting, but I do not speak of that now.
Verse 25. — How does Christ speak from heaven? Is it, there is a day of judgment, and you must prepare yourself for it? He comes and speaks to man, and deals with man on the ground of His being a Man in heaven. If He speaks from heaven, He speaks not merely of mercy, but of grace, on the ground of an accomplished work. He appeals to our hearts upon the ground of what He is and has done. Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, because He has nothing more to do as to making out a righteousness for us. As to the question of righteousness, that work that He has finished is the righteousness that brings us into glory, who, through grace, have believed in Him. I get these two things, the place that Christ speaks from, and the work that brings the people in. He does not reproach you. He comes and tells you, Do you think I do not know what sin is? I bore it. He knows what the consequence is as none other can know it. "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary." Are you learning God in the presence of grace? The hearts of the sons of men are wholly set in them to do evil. Man's history is a terrible one. Because Christ humbled Himself in grace, man profited by the occasion, in order that He should be despised and rejected of men. And is there not a rejection of Him now? Do not some of you reject Him — do not people know that they are sinners, and go on sinning? That is despising Him. But where the heart has been brought down, what do I find? Suppose I am coming to God by Him, why, He tells me, I am in heaven, because your sins are put away. And what can God say if Christ, who bore my sins, is in the presence of God? the thing before me is not judgment, but Christ. If I come to God as a judge, why, Christ is there. He cannot but own that they are all put away — Christ appearing in the presence of God as a personal witness that the sins have been put away.
The judgment day would be according to my works, but the present day is according to the efficacy of Christ's work; so we see what a great thing it is for Him to speak to us from heaven. It is an appeal that ought to put to shame and confusion every one that does not bow to it. "By him all that believe are justified from all things." That is the only faith God will have. Christ is so perfectly glorified that He says, I will not have any other. If I own Christ, I am nothing, that is the thing that is wanted. Do you want to have a little share of your own pretension in the presence of a dying Saviour? If you could get in a bit of your own righteousness, it would be like the dead flies, causing the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour.
Thank God, that voice, if it is in the soul, is eternal life; it is God's way of communicating life.
Now, have you all taken this ground that God has taken with you, telling you, you are all lost — still telling it in grace? Beloved friends, it is not waiting for the day of judgment, when judgment will be executed. He is speaking to you from the right hand of the Majesty on high, where He sat down when He had by Himself purged our sins. Are you going to refuse Him that speaks? I know our hearts drag us down, and the things around us are contrary to us, but it is Christ who has come and presented Himself before our eyes. Remember how He speaks; and are you going to refuse to hear Him, like the deaf adder? Are you going to take God in judgment, when you have despised Him in grace?
The Lord give us to see the truth, and taste the unspeakable love of Him who gave Himself for us! Will He not with Him freely give us all things? He who has come in grace will come in judgment. J. N. D.
"The Master of the House Risen Up, and the Door Shut"
These solemn words of the Lord Jesus were part of His reply to one who said unto Him, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" As was usual with the blessed Lord, He answers the man, not his question. It was just such a question as a man might engage his thoughts with, solemn though it be, without any personal exercise whatever; a question which many a man would gladly discuss, and eagerly argue, without any special reference to himself in the matter. Hence, no doubt, the blessed Lord made it a most personal, searching, individual matter. "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." He gives three powerful reasons for this word —
1st. The gate, road, or way, is at present open, and it is strait, that is, narrow, the real entrance being faith in Christ, and conversion to God. The striving to enter in does not imply an energy in return for which entrance is granted as a reward, but it is a man's casting himself upon the grace of God in Christ; a man cannot bring anything of himself in by such a gate; all that belongs to that must be left outside for ever.
2nd. The Lord says, "For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." This means clearly that many would seek to get in some other way beside the strait gate, either by good works, or ordinances, or something of man which brings dishonour upon Christ and His work. Is it not largely so at the present time? Are there not multitudes who wildly fancy that they can make good a claim upon God? Reader, do you belong to that class? Listen to the solemn word of Christ, "Shall not be able." Oh, how it bars and shuts up every avenue on that side, closing the door for ever against all that would not only destroy the sinner's hope, but cast a slur upon the alone sufficiency and work of the Lord Jesus Christ!
3rd. Another and most solemn reason is, that the door which is now open, and for every poor sinner who has a heart for Christ, will not always be open. "When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath, shut to the door," leaves no question as to that. At the present time Christ is seated and expecting. He is now an exalted Prince and Saviour. "I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." So long as His present session in the heavens continues, He where He is in the glory of God, and the Holy Ghost on the earth sent forth from Him where He is, bear testimony to the completeness, fulness, and perfection of that redemption which is in Christ Jesus. In virtue of Christ's death there is salvation, present and eternal, for all who believe. "By him all that believe are justified from all things." But — and, reader, mark it well — as soon as He leaves His present position, when He rises up as it were, the door is closed for ever. Were such to take place at this moment, where would you be? Do these words describe you? "Ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity."
Reader, that moment is speeding its way, He who now sits on the right hand of God will soon rise up. If you should be found without at that moment, how solemn, how dreadful, to knock when the door is closed for ever against you, and to carry into an eternity of misery the memory of a slighted Saviour and a despised salvation! W. T. T.
The Light and the Blood
That God is light is a truth more universally recognised, in some sense, than perhaps any other truth of God. We do not mean that it is known, or intelligently confessed, as God's truth, but we mean that every man's conscience is aware of it, and every man's ways evidence the conviction he has within. "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." It is because of this that the wicked hate Him, and natural religion seeks to conciliate Him. A natural man cannot think about God without also thinking about his own sins. Of this we are convinced, that though men may speak of, and in measure recognise God in goodness, in power, in mercy, yet this thought must intrude, if even it be not uppermost, that if God be all this, yet sin is in them, and they are sinners. The extent of this sense of sinfulness varies greatly from the careless recognition of the fact, to the deep consciousness of it as wrought in a soul by the Spirit of God. But we repeat, no one in his natural condition, no one apart from Christ, known and trusted in by faith, can think of God calmly and quietly for many moments, without also the thought of sin, or sins, arising in the mind.
"God is light;" but this great and solemn fact, which makes the sinner's heart and conscience quail, is the foundation of the deepest blessing to the believer's heart and mind.
But light manifests, for "whatsoever doth make manifest is light." As in natural, so in spiritual things, in the dark nothing is rightly discerned. In a dark room there is no difference between a chair and a table, between a black man and a white. The difference exists, but it is not seen. So in the spiritual darkness of nature, "the natural man knoweth not the things of the Spirit of God." Good and evil, the things of God and the things of the world, all are blended and confused. The evil is there, but apart from the grace of God it is not judged. Bring the light of the sun into the dark room, and everything is discovered. Bring the light of God's truth into the soul, and everything is spiritually discerned, for God is light.
It is a terrible moment when the light of God first shines into a sinner's heart, and shows him what he is, and upon the sinner's ways, and shows him what they truly are in God's sight. "In him is no darkness at all." In His light all is light, and darkness is reproved. Man himself is seen and known through and through — not as he has been accustomed to regard himself in self-complacency, or as his fellows may have regarded him, in ignorance, it may be, of the workings of his wicked heart, even as of their own.
And who could abide that light, its intense, all-searching power, but for the provision which grace has made in the blood? The blood of Christ is God's provision for, and it is also the peace and the plea of the sinner's conscience when brought into the light of God. Blessed and perfect, because divine provision, through faith, in which the sinner is justified, and the conscience is at rest.
The light manifests the sin, the darkness of the sinner. The blood puts away the sin, and sets the sinner at peace in the light.
The light even of God Himself can manifest nothing which the precious blood cannot put away, for the "blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth from all sin." "The life is in the blood," and "it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul."
How perfect the harmony thus existing in all the provisions of divine grace! "God is light," and would have men to be in the light in communion with Himself.
It was not God who hid Himself from Adam, but Adam from God. So now He hides not Himself from sinners, but poor sinful man, fearful of the light, and ignorant of the blood, withdraws himself from God.
Beloved reader, if the light has not yet shined in your heart, "to give you the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we beseech you in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God." For "God hath made Christ to be sin for us, [he] who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Shrink not from the light; let its beams pour into your heart and conscience, for that word of light which tells you of God's holiness, and of your own sin, tells you also of the blood of the Lamb without blemish and without spot — the blood of that blessed Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Son of man, which was shed for you and for me, to save us from sin and the world now, and from the wrath to come, and to fit us for that place in glory where the same Lord Jesus Christ now dwells, "having abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," from whence also He will soon descend to take His believing people to Himself, that where He is, there they may be also. "For as Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
"Chiefest among Ten Thousand"
When first I heard of Jesus' name,
I only then for refuge came:
I heard that He for sinners died —
And from His pierced and wounded side
Had flow'd the water and the blood —
To bring the sinner near to God.
I found Him meet my every need,
That He a Saviour was indeed;
By Him my every want supplied,
Whene'er I have to Him applied.
Of grace, the storehouse full and free,
All fulness dwells in Him for me.
But, oh! I have such glories viewed
In Him who as my surety stood;
Such beauties, human and divine,
In all His words and actions shine,
That now I sing, with rapturous heart,
"Thou altogether lovely art."
And all He is, He is for me!
So meek in all His majesty,
So tender in Almightiness,
So sympathising in distress,
So liberal — all He has He gave,
Yea, e'en Himself, my soul to save!
It is not terror makes me flee,
Saviour of sinners, Lord, to Thee;
Thy excellencies me constrain
To seek Thee as my greater gain;
Thy presence, my eternal home,
Come, blessed Lord, oh quickly come!
The Veil Rent, the Rocks Riven, the Graves Opened
Matthew 27:51, 52.
These verses relate what took place when Jesus yielded up the ghost. The blessed Lord died, surrendered the life which He had, and which none had title to take from Him. "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." Such are His own blessed words. The moment that was done results came forth which nothing else could accomplish, which even His own blessed and beautiful life on earth could never have produced. But the giving up of His life, His surrendering Himself as a willing victim to death, as the just judgment of God due to sin, as well as wielded by the power of Satan, is followed by the veil of the Temple being rent in twain from the top to the bottom, by the earth quaking, the rocks rending, the graves opening, and many bodies of the saints which slept, coming forth out of the grave after His resurrection. Heaven, earth, and hell, felt a power they had never owned before.
"By weakness and defeat
He won the meed and crown;
Trod all our foes beneath His feet
By being trodden down.
He hell in hell laid low,
Made sin, He sin o'erthrew;
Bow'd to the grave, destroy'd it so,
And death, by dying slew."
• • • • •
The "Holy of Holies" was separated from the rest of the temple by a veil, made of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen work; it signified the distance of man as a sinner from God, and set forth the impossibility on the part of God to have any intercourse with man in his sins. The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest; God could not come out, and man could not go in. But now all is reversed, the veil was rent; that veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, typified the spotless humanity of the Lord Jesus. It must be rent before the full moral glory of God can come out, and before we can go in. The new and living way was consecrated for us "through the veil, that is to say, his flesh."
Once more, observe the manner in which it was rent, namely, "from the top to the bottom;" thus declaring that no hand but God's could rend it. He declares that He does not wish the distance, which up to this moment existed, any longer to continue, and not only so, but undertakes Himself to remove it, and in such a way as to display all the righteousness, holiness, truth, and love of His nature. The life of Jesus, beautiful, and perfect, and blessed as it was, His services to man, His obedience to God, could never have rent the veil or opened the graves. If there were no Saviour who died, whose blessed body was given, and whose blood was shed, God were still concealed behind that veil. Man, even at his best, was still at a distance; hell still unconquered, and he that held the power of death still unsubdued. But, blessed be God, it is not so, now that Christ has died. All of God has come out, sin in its root has been judged, the way into the holiest has now been made manifest. The Christ who died is risen and glorified, and in His face shines the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. W. T. T.
"What hath God Wrought?"
The thought is that our state should answer to the state into which we have been brought. Where the conscience is good this is the case; we enjoy the thing into which we have been brought in the measure in which we enter into it. The soul must be broken down, the pride of man, that would meet God face to face, that must be broken down — that pride is the worst of all. (I am not speaking of brutish sins.) In his course man has no idea that sin separates him from God.
But when we come to righteousness, that will not do. We all know we have sinned, and that heaven is a holy place, and yet we expect to get there. Call it mercy, or what you will, but man would rather be something else than what he is if going to be judged now. The conscience must be awakened by a present revelation of God. The light comes in, and makes everything manifest, and puts us just as we are in the presence of God. There is no pride in the conscience when we are before God; pride of heart is just being without God altogether. Who am I to be afraid of if God is not in all my thoughts? When I have to do with God there is fear, right fear; that is the beginning of wisdom. There is never any pride in the conscience when we have to do with God. In these verses we find the most absolute justification; God sees no sin at all.
When we look at it as it is here — an absolute judgment outside of what we have done — what hath God wrought? I don't prescribe any particular course of experience, but the pride of heart must be gone to enjoy this.
All the failures of the wilderness had gone before this. (Chap. 23.) Could the enemy, the accuser of the brethren, take up all that Israel had done, and make it a barrier to their entering the land — hinder our getting into heaven? — for this is heaven for us. He could not. (Deut. 9.) They were there at the same moment as when this question was raised by the accuser, Can you go in or not? Well, what is Moses' account? Incessant murmuring. "Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you." What is the normal state of a Christian? The Christian's path is clearly living up to his privileges — Christ our life, walking in the Spirit, accepted in Him.
We must either be before God in the lowliness of the sense of the grace of God, or meet a God that breaks us down. What is man's place with God? Lowliness. And being nothing, all the man's delight is being nothing, and receiving everything.
The judgment of the Spirit in a saint is another thing from the judgment about him. By the Spirit of God I see such a thing was not meekness, not gentleness on my part. The Spirit of God judges me according to what I am; that is all right, but when God judges me it is according to what Christ is, and has done.
The Spirit of God judges everything in us that is contrary to God; but when the question arises with the accuser, you see what God's judgment actually, absolutely is about me, and that is according to what Christ is and what He has wrought. "God is not a man that he should lie." All the hostility comes to nothing. Why? Because it met God.
Verse 21. "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel." Why, Moses had seen nothing else! In one sense God had seen it all. Why hath he not seen it? Because He had put it away Himself; there is no such thing seen when you come to the judgment of God about us.
It was not that He allowed the evils. He had humbled them, and proved them, to know what was in their hearts. They had gone all through the wilderness thus. He had chastened them about their sins. You get all God's gracious dealings with them. in Deuteronomy 8. But here it rests with God Himself, and for us I find Christ there, the Lamb that was slain, in the presence of God. Suppose I am broken down, and humbled, and go to God about it, what do I find there? I find the Lamb slain there; a Man there. What tale does that tell? That Christ has finished the work and gone back there, having put our sins away. "Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." If I come at the beginning, or at the end, I find Christ there. God does not see iniquity in me. Why? Because Christ has put it away. It is what hath God wrought, not what I have wrought. He undertook that work, and there I find that "by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Christ could not allow sin. Well, then, did He put me away? No; He put my sin away!
We cannot judge ourselves too much and too earnestly. The converted man loves holiness.
The question is now, Is God satisfied with what He has wrought? That, of course, is simple. It overrides all experience. Experience is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, but that is desert work. "Thou hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed." Experience is right; but when you come to the end of all experience, it is, what has God wrought!
Chapter 24:6. "As the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted." Well, He hath wrought in our hearts that we should follow Him in righteousness and true holiness. When God has wrought, that is the effect. He has taken me in hand, brought me out of Egypt. Who is to condemn? Condemn yourself when you are wrong. But what matter who condemns if God justifies; that is the true side. Are you satisfied with yourself? Then you don't know God at all. Satan may accuse, so as to bring chastisement for our good, but no judgment.
Verse 24. Now you get strength. "Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion."
There I get a picture of power. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Consequent on this we get power against the evil.
Reader, is your heart or conscience on that ground? When you stand before the judgment seat of Christ, are you there in your heart according to what God has wrought? or are you looking to the ground of your acceptance for what is done in the plain?
Are you judging of yourself, by yourself, down in the wilderness, or by God, up in the mount? It is God that justifies; the whole thing is God's work: that is a blessed thing.
Our hearts are able to rest and see there is an end, an utter condemnation of all that is of the old Adam state. The whole thing for the heart to rest in is, "what hath God wrought?" The human heart kicks against that, for man likes to be something. The more we look into it, the more we shall see the value of it. Let us judge ourselves, and walk, according to what God hath wrought, in practical holiness. I am going to be like Him. Well, I must be like Him here, bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
The Lord break us down thoroughly; empty us of ourselves, of all thought that we can do anything! Keep us in His presence, that we may know that joy now; that we may stand there in peace. J. N. D.
The Harvest Past, the Summer Ended
I had just entered on my labours in the hospital at —, when a messenger came saying I was required in ward No—. It was my first visit. I felt my personal weakness, and in my heart said, "Who is sufficient for these things?" as my eye glanced along a ward where on each side were ranged beds, occupied by pale sufferers, young and old.
I soon discovered the person for whom I was specially sent. She was a young woman in the last stage of consumption. Her mother stood beside her wiping the large drops of sweat from her brow. After a question or two, I knelt to ask divine guidance and blessing upon what might now be said to this helpless one. My words were few, and when I rose to speak her ears were deaf, her eyes were fixed, her heart had ceased to beat, and there lay the lifeless form of the subject of my first visit.
As I stood looking upon that lifeless body, something seemed to whisper, "There is no room for trifling here, be diligent, the night is far spent; see around, all are hastening on to eternity; set before them life and death — the way of escape from the wrath to come."
I could only speak a few words of comfort to that bereaved mother, and then turn to tell of Him who through death conquered death, and by whom all that believe are delivered from its sting.
The person who lay in the next bed heard of that mighty One, His finished work for sinners, of whom she felt herself to be one, trusted all to Him who is able to save, and rejoiced with joy unspeakable.
J. — became exceedingly happy, she gave daily increasing evidences of having passed from death unto life.
During the last few days of her sojourn here, she was heard repeatedly going over that beautiful hymn, commencing —
"Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly;
While the raging billows roll —
While the tempest still is high."
And she dwelt with emphasis upon these two lines,
"Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee."
And when she could no longer articulate the words, she loved to hear them repeated. As death drew near, her joy increased; it was manifested in looks and broken sentences, in which the name of the refuge of her soul sounded again and again: and in a few weeks after I had stood at the first bedside, Jenny's departure took place in fulness of joy.
To those who witnessed it, who were chiefly Romanists, it was a matter of wonder. They said they had never witnessed anything like it. I hope it was the beginning of "good things to come" to many of them.
But how many have passed away in such a manner that it pains my memory now to recall those dreadful scenes!
Death, Guilt, and the Power of Satan
There were three things which the Lord Jesus had to encounter, and to triumph over, and which were ever before Him — Death, Guilt, and the power of Satan. The union of these against Him was the "power of darkness," which He acknowledges to the multitudes who came to apprehend Him, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness."
Now, these were the three great enemies which were against us. We had sinned, and God had declared, "The wages of sin is death." We were guilty, and condemnation could not be put away, but by the removal of the occasion of it; and Satan was manifestly against us, as an adversary to our final freedom. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ had just to meet all these, as the federal Head and representative of His people; then there was liberty — glorious and everlasting liberty. We find, then, that Christ had really these three to contend with. He came to be the sin-bearer; and bearing sin, He must necessarily subject Himself to its wages, which was death. Thus bearing sin, guilt was necessarily imputed to Him, and He must suffer its condemnation, until God was satisfied; and, finally, He must, as the Head of His people, overcome him under whom Adam, and all mankind in him, had failed. This Christ did; these He met, took, sustained, remained steadfast under, and overcame; conquered them all, obtained the victory — with wounds and bloodshed indeed; but, having triumphed, He rose with the full blessedness of the enjoyment of God's countenance, death having passed, and guilt removed, and Satan overcome by Him, in the name and for the eternal blessedness of His people.
This was fully manifested at His resurrection, which was a seal of His perfect accomplishment and acceptance, when He rose, a living witness to the full satisfaction for sin having been asked and obtained, and God's faithfulness being manifested. "Thou hast heard me," said Christ, "from the horns of the unicorns," and then without any delay, He immediately adds, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren," as if the enjoyment He possessed was incomplete until the knowledge of it was communicated to those whom He had made part of Himself.
"Jesus in Glory"Rise, my soul! behold 'tis Jesus,
The Three Crosses
These verses detail the solemn circumstances connected with the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. I would invite your earnest attention to it, reader, and to some of the lessons which may be learned from them: —
"And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified him."
Have you ever pondered over all that is unfolded in that little word Him? Who was He? The only-begotten of the Father, the Son of God, the brightness of His glory, the Christ, the wisdom of God, and the power of God. He whom they thus crucified was all this, and much more beside.
Have you ever pondered over all that is unfolded in that little word "they"? Who were they? The religious world of that time, the heads of the nation of Israel, the chief priests and scribes — but it was man in his rebel hatred of God and His Christ, letting out his true character, showing there was not a spark of latent good in his heart. If, then, I look at "Him," I learn, 1st, what sin is. Reader, do you know what sin is? The evil deeds of men whose names darken the calendars of crime will not teach you; the wail of the lost and damned, even if you could hear it, would not teach you; but the sorrow of the soul of Him, the Christ, the God man, as He cried, when under the judgment due to sin, and forsaken of God, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" This and this alone tells me what sin is in its own nature, and how intolerable to a holy and righteous God it is. Oh, reader, is it not sufficient to make you blush to think it was on your account that blessed One suffered all this terrible judgment? 2nd, I learn what God is. He it was who gave His only-begotten Son; He it was who undertook to remove the distance which man by his sin brought in between himself and God. I learn what His love to the poor sinner is at the same place where I see that He cannot tolerate sin. It was man who introduced the distance, and, therefore, it was man who was bound to repair the breach thus made, but man had neither the ability nor the will to do so. Oh, how it magnifies the riches of His grace to know that on the side and part of the blessed God was the thought of removing the distance, as well as the providing, at the cost of His own Son, the only way by which it could be effected.
But there are two other crosses. Let us look a little at each.
In one I see a blessed and wonderful illustration of what God meant by the cross of Christ. He means a salvation, that is, pardon and forgiveness, and a place in Paradise with Christ, for the very vilest sinner that believes in His blessed Son. Observe the change which has taken place in this man —
1st, He has the fear of God in his heart; he rebuked the insolent mocking of his companion with these words, "Dost thou not fear God?" This is what man has not in him by nature. "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
2nd, He justifies Christ in words which tell out the simple story of His life, "This man hath done nothing amiss," at the same time that he fully condemns himself, for he says, "We indeed justly (are condemned), for we receive the due reward of our deeds."
3rd, His simple confidence was in the person of the Lord Jesus; his request was to be remembered when Christ came into His kingdom; he asks for no present relief in his suffering; he urges no plea; he seeks not to make good a claim; his simple utterance is perfectly magnificent, "Lord, remember me." And, reader, mark well the answer, "Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." This is what God's salvation is and means — a full deliverance, and a place with the Saviour, all on the ground of the blessed redemption accomplished by the death of the Son of God.
But there is another lesson, and a deeply solemn one, which may be learnt at the cross of the other thief. Mark it well, reader, how near a man may be to Christ and perish. Here was one that witnessed all that we have had before us, one who being beside the Son of God, who was in that sense outwardly, at least, near to Christ, and yet he perishes. He spends the last moments of a life of shame and infamy in railing on the Saviour, and the tongue which soon would be silent in death is raised to revile and mock. Oh, reader, are there not many who pass away from the busy scenes of life, like him, who have left no memory after them but that which brings pain and sorrow with it? Some who have been in their day as outwardly near to Christ, surrounded with privileges, making a profession of Christianity, religious it may be and respectable, who have never known Christ, and who died as they lived, and are now lost for ever; over whose tombstone the truthful inscription would be, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and they are not saved."
I write these few words, reader, amid the closing hours of a dying year, with the earnest prayer that you may be warned to flee from the wrath that is coming, if you have never yet trusted in Christ, and to find Him, not only your salvation, but your full and abounding portion for ever. W. T. T.
"Come."Come to the Father, come!
London: G. Morrish.