Fourth Degree. — His Staff and Rod in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Psalm 23:4. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."

If my reader has read the little preface of this book, he will remember what was said there, as to the three essential conditions of health — natural or spiritual — viz.: 1. Good and suitable food; 2. Regular exercise; and 3. A pure, congenial atmosphere. We have found the first of these requisites in the two opening verses of our Psalm; in the third, the exercise of conscience and heart, and the deepening blessing resulting from the restoring grace of Him, Who is the Bishop as well as the Shepherd of our souls.

But now we come to another kind of exercise, no less needed than those in the preceding verse. I mean the exercise of Faith, for we now approach the dark "Valley of the Shadow of Death."

The lying down in the green pastures, and the restoring of the soul, blessed as they are, belong to a province very different to that upon which we now enter, that of the "Valley of the Shadow of Death." Solemn words, these! What is the meaning of them? Is it death itself, "the king of terrors?" As for a Christian, we know that death, solemn as it is in itself, is this no longer; just as little as it is to him the "wages of sin;" for the same Apostle who, with regard to the unbeliever, so calls it, says: "For me to die is gain." Christ has "abolished death," and by destroying, through death, him that had the power of death, that is the devil, has delivered them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

But, at the same time we must remember, that death, to a Saint of God before Christ, bore a very different aspect and character, to what it does to us, since Christ died and rose again.

To the Old Testament Saint, this earth was the place and scene of his blessings, spiritual and temporal. His calling, his promises, his hopes, his blessings, and place of worship to give thanks for them, were on earth. The glorious reign of Solomon (the figure of the Greater Who is to come) was the expression of it; when every Israelite dwelt, in undisturbed peace, under his vine and under his fig-tree, and went up thrice every year to the Lord's magnificent temple at Jerusalem, to worship in the solemn assemblies before the Lord. Consequently, long life and health to enjoy those blessings, formed an integral part of them. What then must death be for an Old Testament Saint? To him, it was the end of all his joys and blessings — not only his temporal, but even his spiritual privileges of worship as connected with the Lord's holy temple, in His holy city, the capital and centre of the Holy Land, that "flowed with milk and honey." He had a vague idea of a last day, when the dead were to rise again, and the just, i.e., the believers, were to receive their reward. Jacob, in his parting words, and Job, and Martha, gave expression to this indistinct hope of resurrection. Still, death, to the Israelite, even to the godly, was an enemy, that "cut him off," and carried him away from his people, and all their blessings and privileges, into the shadowy, sombre regions of Hades, i.e., the place where all the departed souls — believers and unbelievers* — were kept; the Saints on the one side, resting in Abraham's bosom, and on the other side, the unbelieving, in torments. Even Abraham was there, and the inspired writer of this Psalm, David, till Christ came and burst the bonds of death and Hades. (Comp. 1. Sam. 28:13 with Matt. 27:52-53.)

{*Only separated by a "gulf." Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man, were all in Hades, only with a gulf fixed between them. (Luke 16)}

Christ had come, been "cut off, and had nothing." (Dan. 9.) He had ascended on high, and sent down the Holy Spirit, baptizing and sealing by that Spirit the first-fruits from among His earthly people, and offering pardon, and the "times of refreshing from His presence," i.e., His immediate return to the earth, and the beginning of the millennial blessing. That offer of pardon and blessing, and, finally, the testimony of the Holy Ghost through Stephen, had been rejected by Israel. Since that time everything has been changed. The Church of God was formed (from all tongues and nations); and this, linked with a risen, ascended, and glorified Christ (as her Head) is His body.

The Church is, in direct contrast to Israel, heavenly in her birth, and  calling, and hope, and blessings, and worship.

"Blessed be God," writes the once so zealous an Israelite, Saul, after he had become Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."

"Blessed be God," writes Peter, the chief Apostle for the circumcision.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you."

All is changed, transferred from Earth to Heaven, and the Christian is a stranger and pilgrim here on earth, and his citizenship (conversation) is in heaven, from whence he looks for his Saviour; not to take his soul to heaven after the body is dead (though this is true), nor to raise his dead body (blessedly true as this is also) but to "change his vile body" (Comp. 1 Cor. 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:17, with John 14:3), "that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." (Phil. 3:21.)

What then is death to a Christian?* Let us take two men of God — heroes of faith, too, one from the Old, and the other from the New Testament. I mean King Hezekiah and Paul the Apostle. I do not know of two saints of God, who, when put in juxtaposition, would so strikingly illustrate the difference between what death was to the Old Testament saint, and what it is to the Christian.

{*That is, to one who is spiritual. To such as dishonour the Lord, and grieve His Holy Spirit by a worldly and fleshy walk, death may, indeed, retain much of its old character as the "king of terrors."}

Both those men of God were brought face to face with death; King Hezekiah, when he "was sick unto death," after the sentence of death (though not in a judicial way) had been announced to him by the Lord through His prophet; the Apostle Paul, when he had "the sentence of death in himself." (2 Cor. 1:8-9.) What was the effect upon each?* Let them speak for themselves.

{* Simeon (Luke 2) stands on the threshold, as it were, between Hezekiah and Paul. He could not say, like Paul, "I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ," for he was just going to depart, when Christ had arrived; but he said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!" What a consolation did Simeon take with him into Hades, where he (and the departed saints with him) were thenceforth only to stay a few years (i.e., until Christ's Death and Resurrection).}

King Hezekiah (Isa. 38.)

"I said, in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave."

[I said,] "I am deprived of the residue of my years."

I said, "I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the land of the living."

"I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world."

"Mine age is departed and is removed from me as a shepherd's tent; I have cut off like a weaver my life; he will cut me off with pining sickness; from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me."

"I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones; from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me."

"Like a crane, or a swallow, so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove."

"Mine eyes fail with looking upward."

"O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me! "

"What shall I say? He hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it."

"I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul."

"O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit;"

"So wilt Thou recover me, and make me to live."

"Behold, for peace I had great bitterness;"

"But thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption:"

"For thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back."

"For the grave cannot praise thee; death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down to the pit, cannot hope for thy truth."

"The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day."

"The Father to the children shall make known thy truth."

"The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord."

Paul the Apostle.

"We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead."

"Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better."

"Whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord willing, rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face."

"For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

"Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing" (i.e., that mortality might be swallowed up of life) "is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit."

"Death, where is thy sting? Hades, where is thy victory?"

"For our citizenship (conversation) is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."

"Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,
according to the working, whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

"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 clouds, to meet the Lord in the air."

"And so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."

Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump."

"For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

"The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law."

"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord."

"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,"

"Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

"Therefore, my beloved brethren,* be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

{*And children (in the gospel).}

"Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

I repeat what I have expressed already (though I need hardly assure the reader), that in thus contrasting the words of King Hezekiah with those of the Apostle Paul, there was not, nor could there be the remotest thought of putting the sincere expressions of gratitude towards God on the part of the godly King Hezekiah, much less his character as a champion of faith, in a disparaging juxtaposition to Paul. Each of those two honoured men of God, in perilous times of general unfaithfulness, stood their ground as faithful witnesses on the side of the Lord and His truth. Nay, I even make bold to assert that that gallant soldier of Christ, who could say, "I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith," and who sealed his testimony with his life-blood, if He had lived at the time and in the position of King Hezekiah, would have expressed himself in the same spirit, if not in the same words. My intention was, as I said, simply to point out by means of contrast, the immense difference there is between the aspect of death to a Christian and its aspect to an Old Testament Saint. At the same time I would call to remembrance what I have said in the preface — that it is not my intention to enter upon the dispensational aspect of our Psalm (i.e., the truths connected with Israel's position and hopes in the past or future), except in passing. I confine myself chiefly to the moral side of the blessed truths contained in our Psalm, in order that these meditations, under God's blessing, may result in true feeding, and not in mere gleaning of dispensational knowledge.

I do not think that those words, "Valley of the Shadow of Death," mean simply, "death," although I am aware that it is generally taken in this sense. A Christian is not told to be "prepared to die," or "prepared to meet his Maker," as the expression is, or, as others say, "prepared to meet the worst." "To depart to be with Christ, which is far better," is not to be prepared to meet the worst. How does the inspired apostle characterize the conversion and Christianity of his beloved Thessalonians, whom he calls "his crown and joy?" Were their eyes directed towards a coffin? And was it said that they were not afraid of it, or "prepared for it?" The imperial monk of St. Just thus prepared himself "to meet the worst,"* but this was not the goal of attraction placed before the eyes of those at Thessalonica. They were not directed to look at a skull. They were turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and — to "be prepared to die?" No, but "wait for His Son from heaven."

{*Charles V., King of Spain and Emperor of Germany, in whose realms the sun never set. He it was before whose tribunal at Worms, grander than that of King Agrippa, the Augustin monk, Martin Luther, appeared with "the sword of the spirit" as his only weapon, and like his greater fellow-champion of old, the bright "helmet of salvation" on his head, fearing no evil, for the Lord was with him, "a very present help in trouble." Wearied of life, and of the world with its vain glories and lying vanities, that mighty Emperor, after a reign of thirty-seven years, laid down his crowns and retired to the cloister of St. Just, in Spain. A few days before his death, the monks of that convent, by his order, carried the Emperor, who was lying in an open coffin, in solemn procession into their chapel, and there performed funeral service over him with all the solemnities of the ritual of the Church of Rome, so impressive to the flesh. A few days afterwards Charles V. died, very likely from the shock to his nerves. There is often a solemn divine retribution manifested in the history of the great of the earth, as in the private life of the obscurest individual.}

What then is the meaning of those solemn words, "Valley of the Shadow of Death?" Without gainsaying the interpretation, of v. 4 in the sense of death generally, and its application to the future Jewish remnant especially, when they will have to pass through unprecedented troubles (Dan. 12) which will usher in the millennial era of unprecedented earthly blessings; and without desiring in the least to impair the comfort many a departing Christian may derive, and has derived, from this precious verse; yet I fully believe that this expression conveys more than merely death. It is "The Valley of the Shadow of Death," that is, this earth, the narrow and dark place ("the valley,") where the shadow, i.e., the power of death, has its sombre sway. Every reader familiar with Scripture, will be aware that the word "shadow" is used in the Bible in a fourfold sense.
1. In its literal meaning of a cool place, protected from the heat, or, in the spiritual sense of refreshment.
2. In the sense of frailty, and passing away.
3. Or it means figure, or type; in which sense it only occurs in the New Testament. And —
4. In the sense of power.*

{*"Hide me under the shadow of thy wings. (Psalm 17:8.) Comp., further, Judges 9:15; Ps. 36:7; Ps. 63:7; Ps. 91:1; Isa. 30:2-3;  Isa. 49:2.}

It would be absurd to take any of the three first renderings as the real meaning of "Shadow of Death" in our Psalm. Therefore there remains only that of power. The words, "Valley of the Shadow of Death," mean simply, this earth, the place where death reigns, death the "King of Terrors," and he who has the power of death, that is, the devil, "the prince of this world" and "the god of this world." The whole scene around us bears the stamp of death, and is under the shadow, i.e., the power of death. That this interpretation is correct, we find confirmed by Matt. 4:16, where we meet with almost the same expression. It is said there about Galilee of the Gentiles, "The people which sat in darkness, saw a great light, and to them which sat in the 'region and shadow of death.' light is sprung up.'"

Now it is evident at the first glance, that the prophet does not speak there of the dying or dead, but of living people, i.e., the inhabitants of that portion of Canaan which was called "Galilee of the Gentiles." partly on account of the ignorance of its inhabitants, and partly because that portion of Canaan was, more than any other, frequented by Gentiles. They are, therefore, represented as "sitting in darkness," and in the "region and shadow of death," i.e., this world. Now, what is here called the "Region and Shadow of Death," appears to me the same as the "Valley of the Shadow of Death" in our Psalm. Only there is one little word in the above quoted passage from Matthew, which marks, exactly the difference between the natural or unregenerate man, and the believer. I mean the word "sat."

As to the believer, in the Old as well as in the New Testament, he is supposed only to be walking or passing through this world*. — "the Valley of the Shadow of Death" — whilst the children of this world are sitting in this region and shadow of death, in all the false security that has characterized them from the days of Noah and Lot until now, and will continue to do so, until "sudden destruction shall fall upon them"

{*I say, in the Old as well as in the New Testament. For we must remember, that, to Israel, when dwelling in the land of Jehovah, the Holy Land of Promise, the world, in their sense (the Valley of the Shadow of Death), comprised that part of the earth which was inhabited by the Gentiles, with whom an Israelite was forbidden to have social intercourse. Messiah had not yet appeared and been rejected. And even in Jehovah's Land, after the separation of the ten tribes, and the setting up of the two golden calves, the man of God, who came out of Judah unto Bethel, was forbidden by Jehovah Himself, to go in with any one (neither with the King nor with a prophet of that country.) He was neither to eat bread nor to drink water in "that place," nor even to return by the same way that he came: It was on the same principle that Abraham had dwelt in tents in the Land of Promise, because the Amorite dwelt in the land." Let us remember it!}

And has this world with its daily increasing allurements, grand shows, gay colours, and fair appearances, lost ought of its solemn character as the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," since the Lord of glory has been murdered here? It was when our Lord was on His way to Gethsemane, that, for the first time in the Word of God, we find Satan called "the prince of this world," by the blessed lips of "the Prince of Life," the holy and just One, on the eve of His rejection and crucifixion. And why? Because the great enemy of God and man, the arch-deceiver of souls, who "is a liar and murderer from the beginning," had never before been so clearly manifested as "the prince of this world," (because he had kept himself more behind the scene), as now, when he combined the Gentiles and Israel around the cross, to slay God's well-beloved Son; Who had come into this world, to declare and tell out to poor fallen men His Father and God's heart full of love, and truth, and grace, as seen in His own blessed Person. He came into this world, which was made by Him; and the world, blinded by the prince of the world, "knew Him not." They stared at Him and said, "Who are you?" But worse still, He came unto His own people, and they, instigated and hardened by Satan, received Him not. They said, "This is the Heir, come let us kill him!"

But there is a still more solemn aspect under which we find Satan mentioned in the Second Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. A still more solemn title is given him there, than that of "the prince of this world." He is called there (2 Cor. 4) "the god of this world."

It is, because Satan who will, at a not very distant time, set himself up, in the person of Antichrist, in the Temple at Jerusalem, "showing himself that he is God" — is now blinding men's hearts against the glorious light of the gospel, for the preaching of which, God, in His marvellous grace, has sent down His Holy Spirit from that same Heaven, whither this world had sent back His well-beloved Son with pierced hands, and feet, and side. Satan, the god of this world, is now preparing everything for the time when the world will worship the beast, his first agent, for the final rebellion against God, and say, "Who is like the beast?" It is for this reason, I think, that we, in the passage referred to above, find Satan called by that most solemn expression, "the god of this world." The very fact of the success of this process of blinding against the glorious gospel of God, which we see going on all around us in these days of Christless professing religion on the one hand, and open infidelity* on the other, shows but too plainly that Satan is not only the prince and the ruler, but "the god of this world," as to men's hearts and minds. This will be fully manifested when the world will worship the beast, Satan's first agent at that fast-approaching period, and when the Jews will permit him to sit, in the person of his second agent, the false prophet or Antichrist,** in the very temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

{*Whilst revising these pages, and preparing them for print, the writer's attention was directed to a lecture, in which the lecturer refers to the programme of the "Socialist Alliance" of Geneva, which was admitted to form part of the Nationale in 1869, and contains the following: —
1. "The Alliance declares itself atheist; it demands the abolition of all worship, the substitution of science for faith, and of human justice for divine justice; the abolition of marriage, so far as it is a political, religious, juridical, or civil institution."
2. "It demands, specially, the definite and entire abolition of classes; the political, social, or economical equalization of the sexes, and to arrive at that end, above all, the abolition of the right of inheritance, so that in future the enjoyment of each man should correspond exactly to his production."

And why does the Rev. lecturer condemn this product of the abyss? Because of its subverting tendency as to the bonds and the very existence of society. Whilst fully concurring with him in this respect, I ask, Where is God? And what about his Christ? God is not in all their thoughts — I will not say in the thoughts of the Rev. lecturer, but at all events not in his lecture. Not even the word "God," to say nothing of the name of Jesus Christ His Son, is once mentioned in that lecture, which fills nearly three and a half columns of one of the leading papers. Which is worse and more significant: the antichristian programme coming from the city of Calvin and Farel, or this Christless lecture delivered in that great cathedral? A Christless lecture on religion is not a weapon to combat the doctrine of Antichrist.

**"The abomination of desolation" (Dan. 9) "standing in the holy place." (Matt. 24.)}

Fellow Christians, do we sufficiently bear in mind, that it is a terrible enemy's land that you and I are passing through? A land, where the stream of events is driving fast towards the closing awful catastrophe! Would you like to stay in a land that is on the eve of war with your own country? Where massacre is preparing all around you, and feet swift to shed the blood of all whom you love? Would you sleep, even for one night, in such a place if you could help it? Certainly not. On the contrary, your only and constant care would be to find a narrow and safe footpath to pass through it as quickly as possible. You would not forget for a moment, that you were in an enemy's land. Or would you like to live in a house, the walls of which were stained with the blood of your nearest and dearest relations? Shall I remind you of an Old Testament Saint, to whom the land which God had promised to him and to his seed, was like a foreign country, after he had entered it And why? Because "the Amorite then dwelt in that land," and God's time, when Abraham and his seed were to possess the land, had not yet arrived, "for the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full."

Christian reader, is this earth, where the blood of the Son of God has been shed, something else to you besides The Valley of the Shadow of Death?" — "that great city where the Lord was crucified." Or is it to you something more than an empty tomb where your Lord was buried, Who "is risen indeed," and speaks from His Heavenly glory to you; In Me the world is crucified to you, and you to the world. If you then be risen with Me, seek things which are above, where I am, Christ, sitting on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on earth; for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Me in God.

"And has this world a charm for me
Where Christ has suffered thus?
No, I have died to all its charms
Through Jesus' wondrous cross.

"Farewell, farewell, poor faithless world,
With all thy boasted store;
I'd not have joy, where He had woe,
Be rich, where He was poor."

Or is there any amongst my Christian readers walking through the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," (upon which judgment is imminent,) with lingering steps and looking back?

"Remember Lot's wife!"
Alas! how many such pillars of salt do we meet with in the nooks and recesses, and at the corners of the "Valley of the Shadow of Death?" And why? Because to their eyes and hearts this world did not appear, as in our Psalm, a deep, damp, sterile, and misty vale, formed by bare shaggy rocks, with the eagles of death, "which are gathered where the carcase is," hovering above it in mid-air. Alas! to them it appeared a verdant, sunny, pleasant place, not a valley of tears; a place filled with the refreshing shadows of the comforts of daily life, and provisions for the flesh, instead of having the shadow of death upon everything around. This gloomy shadow is carefully kept out of sight in the broad pleasant walks of that great cemetery, called world; just as in your city cemeteries, the gardener and florist combine their skill to hide its terrible contents beneath a smiling surface.

"What makes that world so bright?
Jesus is there!
What makes my heart so light?
Jesus is near!

Why is this world so dead?
Why is its beauty fled
Oh, it is surely this —
He is not here!"

Fellow-pilgrim towards heavenly rest and glory with the rejected Nazarene, Who has made us kings and priests unto His Father and God, to reign with Him; do you feel a hankering after settling and colonizing on the soil of this world, that is stained with the precious blood of the Lamb of God? Let another voice from the Old Testament warn you: —

Arise ye and depart; for this is not (your) rest; because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction." (Micah. 2:10.)

Christian reader, the soil of this world is not only polluted by man's crimson sin and blood-guiltiness, but it is also a volcanic ground, which will soon be shaken to the very centre by those thunders and lightnings, which, in the closing book* of the Word of God, we see proceeding from the throne of Him Whose judgments "are true and righteous," and will soon be awakened by those voices proceeding from the same place, and calling out to the children of this world —

"Woe to them that dwell on the earth!"
that is, to them that "sit" in the region and Valley of the Shadow of Death, instead of "walking through" it.

{*The Book of Revelation (although the Lamb appears in no portion of the Bible so prominent as here) is a book of judgment, as the whole record of God, from Genesis to Revelation, is a witness of His long-suffering.}

"Could we stay, where death is hovering?
Could we rest on such a shore?
No, the awful truth discovering,
We could linger there no more.
 We forsake it,
 Leaving all we loved before."

Beware of seeking rest in the wilderness! The desire for it, if indulged in a Christian, is the sure forerunner of backsliding, or rather the beginning of it. There is no such thing as standing still, in spiritual nor in natural life. Either onward or backward. Do you long for an "oasis?" Just a little "green spot" ("for is it not a little one?") an "Elim" of your own, in this world? Let me affectionately, but solemnly warn you! I know that God, Who refreshed His people of old, after their entrance into a barren wilderness, with the shadow of seventy palm-trees and the waters of twelve wells, as an earnest and foretaste of the time when the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose, may, and does, now, in His tender mercy and loving kindness, lead His weary pilgrims from time to time to a place of momentary rest — a refreshment (perhaps through the hospitality of one of His saints), to restore strength to the weak vessel worn out in His service, or to gather new vigour and buoyancy of spirit in solitude with the Lord. The Son of man Himself, homeless stranger though He was here on earth, had His "Bethany," though his true "Elim" was on the top of the mountains, alone with His God, after a day's unremitting service and unwearied labour of love. There, in the stillness of the night, on the summit of the mountains, from whence the prince of this world in vain had pointed out to Him the united beauty and glory of its kingdoms; there, far above the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," where men were sleeping in darkness and sin for the day of judgment — the Son was alone with the Father.
"Cold mountains in the midnight air,
Witnessed the fervour of Thy prayer."

"The ear of the learned" was close to the door-posts of His God and Father, to receive, as it were, the orders for the coming day, and in the morning to descend to the plains to heal the lepers, to give sight to the blind, to preach the gospel to the poor, and to speak with the "tongue of the learned" words in season to the weary and heavy laden. The, "I thank thee, Father," and the "Even so, Father," following the woes pronounced upon Chorazin and Bethsaida, was followed by, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Christian reader, do you know something of these "Elims?" They are not to be found under the shadow of the palm-trees of this world, nor in the dry atmosphere of a prayer-less study, but in the secret place of the most High and of our most nigh God, Whom we call "Abba, Father!" If we do not acquire something of the "ear of the learned" on the top of the mountains, we shall never acquire the "tongue of the learned" in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, though we may speak with the tongues of men and of angels. We only shall weary people with unseasonable words, instead of speaking words in season to the weary.

Again I say, Christian reader, beware of making rest and ease your object. The looking for the "hearts ease," in the land of the wilderness, only betrays the heart's longing for the onions and garlic of Egypt. Let us not forget that it is only in the sand of the wilderness, and not upon the green lawns and meadows of the world, that we can trace the precious footmarks of Jesus, the heavenly Stranger in a world of sorrow and sin, though no stranger to sorrow, but a Man of sorrow, acquainted with grief.

"The Lord is Himself gone before;
He has mark'd out the path that I tread;
It's as sure as the love I adore,
I have nothing to fear nor to dread.

"There is but that one in the waste,
Which His footsteps have marked as His own;
And I follow in diligent haste,
To the seats where He's put on His crown."

"He is not here!" And why? Because He has been rejected, spit upon, buffeted, crucified here! Does His cross, to you, cast its dark, broad shadow over all the allurements, and across the prospects of this world? The god and prince of this world tries all in his power to turn it into a "door of hope" for you,* to make you forget that it is the "Valley of the Shadow of Death."

{*"To Israel the "valley of Achor" (i.e., "trouble") will be turned into the "door of hope." But this is not the Christian's portion.}

He is not here! But we are; and for what purpose? Merely to walk through it as pilgrims and strangers? Not only so, but Christ has sent us into it as ambassadors, with a message of peace and life.

"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are."

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name; those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."

"And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves."

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."

"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

"Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth."

"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world."

I know of nothing more humbling, and at the same time encouraging, than that marvellous grace, that permits us to listen to the utterance of such a prayer. The prayer of Jesus, the "beginner and perfecter of faith," when He, close to the issue of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, before crossing the brook Cedron — the border of Gethsemane — lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy son, that thy son also may glorify thee." It is the same grace that permits us to hear His parting words, when He left the heavenly glory, and said: "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God."

But let me direct your attention to those words of our blessed Lord: —

"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world."

The same words, here addressed to His Father, Jesus addresses afterwards to His disciples, when He appeared in their midst, as their risen Saviour, and, showing unto them His pierced hands and side, said, "Peace unto you;" as much as to say, Behold my wounds! They are the fountain of peace and life. I have received them in the house of my friends. But to you, they are to be the starting-point for that message of peace and life, with which I send you as ambassadors in My stead — first of all, to the same house — beginning at Jerusalem, and then to the whole world. You are to tell unto men, who would not be reconciled through My life, but hated Me without a cause, that God is now going to reconcile the hostile hearts of sinners by My death. For you are to tell them, that the same blood, which, when shed by wicked hands, proved the consummate wickedness of man's heart and his irreparable ruin, is at the same time the means for washing away all their guilt, to wash him that believeth whiter than snow, and to fit him for a heavenly Paradise, and for the glory of God."

Then said Jesus to them again, "Peace be unto you!" But He adds, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." And then. He breathes upon them the breath of resurrection-life, and says, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost."

Yes, fellow-Christian, Christ, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Who maketh us to lie down in His green pastures, and leadeth us beside the still waters and restoreth our souls, and leadeth us in the paths of righteousness; — Christ, our risen and ascended Head in glory, has sent us into this "valley of the shadow of death," to carry with us through these dark and hostile regions of death, the heavenly tidings of life and peace. Here, where men's feet, led on by Satan, are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery in their ways, and the path of peace unknown to them, and no fear of God before their eyes. Yes, it is from this "valley of the shadow of death," through which the little flock to whom it has pleased the Father to give the kingdom, is finding and winding its way, fearing no evil, — that the sweet savour of the gospel is constantly ascending up to heaven as a sweet perfume to God, and a savour of life to them that are saved, but a savour of death to them that perish, It is here on this earth, which is again filling fast, as in Noah's day, with violence and corruption, that the Lord wills His little band to be "one," that the world might know that the Father has sent Him. Amidst war, and hatred, and revolutions, they are to "live in peace with all men, as much as lieth in them, and have salt within themselves, and peace one with another." And were not we ourselves sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another? But oh! what a sun arose over us, who were once "sitting in darkness and in the region of the shadow of death!"

"But after that the kindness and love* of God our Saviour toward man appeared … to make us heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Are we, whilst passing through this world, carrying with us the savour and practical power of that divine philanthropy? Can we say with the apostle, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth?" Does the love of Christ constrain us, to let the light of His gospel of glory "spring up" to those that sit in darkness and in the region of the shadow of death? And when he, who fain would keep them there, hurls the stones of persecution against the light-bearers, does the light shine through the broken pitcher? Are we, though faint, yet pursuing? And do we faint not, knowing that, though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day, and that our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen?

{*Lit: "Philanthropy." There is only One Who has true philanthropy — God, Who commends His love to men, in that, whilst we were yet enemies, Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, died for us.}

A Christian's position in this "Valley of the shadow of death" much resembles that of a man in a diving-bell who is working at the bottom of the sea. His home and natural element are above the water, but he has been sent down into the region and shadow of death, quest of costly pearls, like that blessed One Whose love many waters could not quench. His life-breath, he draws from above through the tube that is fixed to his mouth. The waters of death are all around him, but quietly he carries on his work at the bottom of the sea, gathering costly pearls, till his work is done; and then he is caught up to the open air, his proper element, where he meets his master and his friends, and receives the reward of his labour. But there is one danger — a terrible danger — connected with the work of a diver. There are not only the waters around him, but one of the huge and terrible inhabitants of that element of death might snap the tube, that links the man with his native element. His life would be cut off, together with the link that supplies him with air. Not so with us, Christian: reader; "our life is hid with Christ in God." Satan may be permitted, "in majorem Dei gloriam," to destroy the bodies of the Lord's martyrs, but when it has been so, from among the flames of the stake their songs of triumph arose, proving that their life was far above man and Satan's reach, that it was hid with Christ in God. Satan can just as little touch my life, as he can touch Christ, for "Christ is my life." There is life in my hand, or I could not move it. But that is not "my life." I may lose my hand without losing my life, but if I lose my head, my life is lost too. My life is not in my hand, but in my head. If my life were in my keeping, it would be an unsafe thing indeed. Christ Himself is my life — Christ, my Head in glory at the right hand of God, — and thus my life is beyond the reach of harm, "hid with Christ in God."

Not many years ago a man of God bore a good witness to this blessed truth in an especial way. Whilst travelling, a robber stopped him on his way, pointing a pistol at the traveller's heart and saying, "your money or your life!" The calm reply was, "Money I cannot give you, for I have none myself, and my life you cannot take, for it is "hid with Christ in God." The few words went like a bullet into the robber's heart. His pistol sunk; he disappeared in the dark forest, to emerge from it, a converted man.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

Why? Is it because faith imparts courage, and casts out fear, as love does in another sense? No, but because He is with me.

But stop, I must correct myself, lest I should be guilty of a misquotation, and a grave one too, though it may not appear so at first. It is not written, "For he is with me," but

"For thou art with me."

The reader will have noticed the change from

"He" into "Thou" in the remaining half of our Psalm. Why this change of expression? Because "He" will not do, when we come to the "valley of the shadow of death;" whether we take these words in the sense of "departing to be with Christ," or for this earth, as the place of death when realized in its true character.

"He" will not do; it must be "Thou," i.e., the addressing of Himself,* the "cleaving to Him with purpose of heart." It is, "Lord, to whom shall we go, for thou hast the words of eternal life?"

{*Not merely speaking about Him to others, blessed as this is, in its place of testimony.}

Suppose a child going home with its father on a very rough road, where a thickly wooded valley had to be crossed, where murders and robberies had been committed of late. Do you not think the child would, as they approach the dreaded place, cling closer and closer to its father?* Most surely. And the more we, through grace, are walking in the power of the Spirit and resurrection-life, in communion with the Father and with the Son, the more shall we realize what this world is in its character as the "valley of the shadow of death;" and knowing, too, that in ourselves, that is to say in our flesh, there dwelleth no good thing, we shall pass through it with fear and trembling, working out our salvation, and yet "rejoicing always in Christ Jesus," fearing no evil, for Thou art with me."** The sense of the perils and opposition of the world around us — the very first instinctive feeling of every soul as soon as God begins His work there, will only contribute to bring us into closer communion with Him, Who is our strength, and Whose strength is made perfect in weakness.

{*Did not the Holy One, Who was obedient unto death, whilst passing through the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," cling to His Father, upon Whom He was cast from the womb, and Who was His God from His mother's belly. During the terrors and agonies of Gethsemane, when Satan, who wielded the power of death, brought all that power — the "shadow of death" — to bear upon Him, and when "His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground, being in an agony, Jesus "prayed more earnestly," "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless" (let us ponder over this 'nevertheless,' Christian reader) — "not my will, but thine, be done!" (How infinitely does that "nevertheless" exceed the apostle's "nevertheless." (Phil. 1:24.) And how little have we learnt even of the latter! Upon the Cross it was, "Be not thou far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help." … "Be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee." Then follows, "Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him all ye the seed of Israel." First the "Thou," then the "He;" first the clinging and cleaving to Him, then the testimony to others!

**The "fear and trembling" and the "rejoicing always in Christ Jesus," go hand-in-hand in that most practical epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians.}

And, vice versa, the more we are in communion with God, the deeper will be in us the sense of the true character of this "valley of the shadow of death," and the shrinking from the defiling contact with its "dead bones." But this sense of the dangers of the "valley of the shadow of death" will not be connected in us with alarm. On the contrary, it will be combined with the feeling of perfect security. For, covered with His feathers, and trusting under the "shadow of his wings," we fear no evil on our passage through this dangerous place, with its snares and temptations.

"In vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird."* There is now One there above for me in heavenly glory, before His God and my God, before His Father and my Father. That blessed One, ere He entered there through sufferings, said to His disciples, Ye shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me." But in those awful hours upon the cross, when all had left Him alone, His God also, His only refuge, forsook Him, and the cry went up from the cross, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"

{*Or, as the margin reads, "in the eyes of everything that hath a wing."}

And that obedient One, Who, passing through the "valley of the shadow of death" (and who but He could fully realize what the "shadow of death" meant,) poured out strong cries and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, has been "heard in that He feared." God could not, nor would He suffer His Holy One to see corruption. God has shown Him the path of life out of the "valley of the shadow of death." It was a risen Saviour, conqueror over Satan, death, and Hades, that said to His disciples, who had forsaken Him in the hour of peril, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."

And when Israel, who then rejected Him, will have to pass, at the time of Antichrist, through the fiery furnace of trouble, such "as never was since there was a nation." how precious to His faithful remnant will be the promise of the Great Shepherd, as written in Isa. 43. 5, "Fear not; for I am with thee," addressed to them (as in a general way to us all) in answer to the words of faith in our Psalm, "I will fear no evil, for thou art with me" What a comfort to those faithful ones, when they will have to pass, in the most terrible sense of the word, "through the valley of the shadow of death!

And so it has proved to be at all times to the martyrs of our blessed good and great Shepherd, who "for his name's sake" were "counted as sheep for the slaughter," from Stephen to the times of the Waldenses and Albigenses, and from them down to the martyrs of Madagascar, and the Madiais and Matamoras.

"I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."

How blessed is this precious "Thou," whether it he addressed to Him Whom we call "Abba, Father," or to Him Who "is not ashamed to call us brethren." It implies the closest relationship and intimacy of faith and love. It is just the word suited for the "valley of the shadow of death," for such as His grace has taught to pass through it with pilgrim hearts and pilgrim manners. having the loins of their minds girded, and walking circumspectly," looking homeward, heavenward, looking unto Jesus, their eyes, in the power of the Spirit, fixed on His glory, and their hearts on His blessed person.

There is no place — except sin — where a Christian can be in his divers conflicts and temptations during his journey through the "valley of the shadow of death," where he may not have Christ with him — yea, be it death itself, as far as it can be applied to a Christian in a physical or mental way. There have been dear children of God, and heavenly-minded too, who have had to pass through hard struggles during their last hours on earth, but they never failed to realize "Thou art with me" There is no place, I say, of suffering for a Christian in this world, where Christ Jesus has not been, and where we could not therefore realize His presence in power and sympathy, and say, "Thou art with me" If a Christian be called to pass through the deepest trials and severest conflicts, he need not ask, "How shall I pass through them?" but before he has to undergo them, he has the blessed assurance that they shall not separate him from the love of the Son, nor from the love of God the Father, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Is it hunger? Jesus has felt it, after forty days fasting, and has been tempted whilst feeling it, and has overcome, and He will be with us in it and lead us victoriously through it. Or is it nakedness? The Lord of glory, Who had divested Himself of His glorious garment and made Himself of no reputation, assuming the humble garb of a servant, has been stripped of His vesture by the pitiless hands of Roman soldiers, when they cast lots over His garment. You will find Him there also with you. Or is it the sword? He has felt it as none else could. "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." (Zech. 13:7.) Or is it death itself? Who can count the numbers of departing saints, around whose death beds (if we can call them so), the savour and atmosphere of a risen, ascended, and glorified Christ was spread, and His life shining through the earthen vessel when it was broken.

One departing Christian said, "Men call this death — I call it life." Another, "It is dying unto death." Another, "This is a mere nothing." Another, "No cloud above, no spot within."

But there is one instance of such a bright sunset of a departing Christian, that I cannot refrain from giving it at greater length to the reader. The lady, who is the subject of the following account, was the wife of a dear brother in Christ, who soon after her death issued a little paper for his friends, containing the account of her triumphant departure, He himself has since followed his beloved partner to glory, and I think that I am not guilty of an indiscretion in thus publishing the following extract, for the glory of that Lord and Saviour, Whom he and his partner here below served so faithfully, and with Whom they now rest from their labours.

When the doctor's decision was known, after her chest had been tried, her husband read the following hymn to her: —

"Be steady, be steady, O my soul,
For the sea is come, and the billows roll
With the help of God, and none beside,
We shall safely pass the roaring tide.

"Jesus Jehovah! be our stay,
Over the dark and troublous way:
Embarked in Him, we shall feel no fear,
Though the storm, the trial of strength be near."

Shortly after, she said to her husband, Oh. I have had such a sweet visit from Jesus! I cannot tell you what a sweet visit I have had! "She laid her hand upon his arm, and said with great earnestness and solemnity, "Mind, there is one thing I specially charge upon you, which is, that you go on your way rejoicing. You know I am not dying under the wrath of God. I am redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Tell all whom I know, that I am able to praise the Lord. I can praise Him. If He never give me another wink of sleep, still I will praise Him." (The words in italics, she pronounced emphatically.)

(I now proceed at once to the writer's account of her last moments.)

At half-past twelve, at her earnest desire, I retired to rest, leaving her nurse, our sister, to sit up with her. At three, she sent to call me, and I immediately went to her. I found her labouring for breath, and covered with cold perspiration. She seemed much distressed in body, but apparently not more so than she was on the previous day. She said, "I cannot continue long if I have not breath." I had not the least idea that she was dying,* and I lifted up my heart to the Lord, that, if it were possible, this cup of suffering might pass from her, and some relief be given to her poor body. I heard her repeating a part of Isaiah 43:2, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." I rose and reached a Bible, intending to turn to the passage. When she saw I had the Bible she said, "Read the twenty-third Psalm," which I did. Almost immediately afterwards, her countenance, which had previously been marked with an expression of the deepest anguish and pain, from her great difficulty of breathing, became exceedingly animated, and beamed with an expression of joy and triumph. I was then kneeling at her side, and the change was so striking, that I rose from my knees, in order that I might have a more perfect view of her countenance. She looked steadfastly up to heaven, the radiance of which seemed really reflected on her face, and said with great energy and emphasis, and with a strength of voice far beyond what I should have supposed her then capable of, Satan, thou hast nothing to do here. Death is no king of terrors to me. I am washed in the blood of the Lamb. I am upon a rock. I am on a firm foundation. Lord, it is a solemn moment, but this is reality" (the latter words were pronounced with increased deliberateness and emphasis.) "O Lord look upon my dear children! Oh, grant that I may meet them before the Throne!" And then, making a further effort to speak, and having apparently strength given her for the occasion, she said with great animation, and with an expression of increased joy and triumph, "I would not change places with the greatest man on the earth." I was standing at her side, holding her hand in mine. She said, "Kiss me — kiss my sweet little boy in the morning — give my love to all the saints." Her breathing then became more difficult, and her voice feeble, but she said repeatedly, "Jesus, Master, come, come to me. Jesus, come, come!" Her voice then became inaudible, but observing that she moved her lips, I put my ear down to her mouth, and she said with an emphasis, which marked how she felt the words, "Precious — very precious!" These were her last words, and in less than twenty minutes afterwards — at fifty minutes after four a.m., she most gently and peacefully fell asleep.

{*Her doctor had said only on the previous day, that she might continue many days, and even many weeks.}

A sister in the Lord who was at Mrs.—'s bedside a short time previous to her departure, gave the following account of the last two days of her life on earth:—

On Monday I went and found her much worse, and, having been now many nights without sleep, she looked much exhausted, and suffered exceedingly from oppressed breathing; but a holy calmness marked her countenance, and at times it was so lighted up with joy, that, but for seeing the laboured breathing, one could. hardly fancy it was the taking down of the clay tabernacle. On my entering the room, she said, "All, all is now settled, Jesus! Jesus!" till it died away upon her lips. Her sufferings at this time from difficulty of breathing were very severe, and her mind, though happy, wandered a little, but in all, that strain of praise which it was beautiful to witness.

I had not been very long with her when she expressed a great desire for prayer, and said, "O pray to Jesus for a little sleep to rest my weary body. Begin and end with praise, for it is a pleasant sound." After this I read the first five verses of the 103rd Psalm, and then from the 11th to the 17th verse, during which time the Lord heard our cry, and gave her sweet and refreshing sleep for twenty-five minutes. When she awoke, she lifted her head and said, "My heart is filled with praise and gratitude for all His goodness. I feel more like myself than I have done for some time… It is the first sound sleep I have had for some days and nights." She then asked to see her little boy (who had gone to spend the day out), and said, "I may yet see my little girl. I remember the night before I left home, kneeling down by my sweet child's crib, and asking the Lord to bring me back again to see her; but (as if taking herself up) the Lord's will be done. He does all things well for me." After a little, I asked her if she felt happy in the bright prospect before her. "Yes," she sweetly answered, "Peace, peace flows like a river through my soul." Then I asked her if she found it hard to give up those she loved. Her eyes, at this time, beamed with that expression which words have no power to convey, and she added, "Hard — not hard — willingly, or a thousand times more! I could lay all at the feet of Jesus, for worthy is the Lamb!" After an interval, she turned and said, "Is my affection weakened or abated? or why is it that I can give up all for Jesus?"

At two o'clock, she had another sleep for thirty-five minutes, and, when roused, she said, "My heart is bursting — bursting with the praise of Jesus. I have a great desire to speak to the doctor, to tell him of Jesus — of such a Jesus — oh! to be able to do so!" Presently he arrived; but the quick breathing prevented much conversation; but enough was said to show him the perfect calmness with which she viewed the immediate prospect of death.

After awhile I said, "What glorious realities will soon burst upon your view; all His glory before you." To this she replied, "Do you know, I am not so much thinking of the glory as of Jesus!" I said, "He is the sun and centre of all glory — the Lamb is the light of the city." "Yes," she replied, "I am swallowed up in thoughts of Jesus. He is the bright star of hope of my heart. I have no conflict today, all is praise." On my bringing her some food. she said, "My poor body needs much nourishment — the hand of death is heavy upon me — allwill not do."

I once asked her if she had any regret as to her present circumstances, in being away from home; or if she had any wish to live. With animation she replied, "I have no desire to live — Jesus has taken all my foolish fears away; my husband, children, and all I have, are in His safe keeping. I have no regret about a single thing; all is well. It is better for me to die here than at home, for it is the will of Jesus, and I am happy. I have no regret about anything."

The next day, Tuesday, when I came, I found her much worse. Her poor body was much worn out, and her breathing distressed. When I asked her how she felt, she whispered, "Oh! fast sinking — to sleep in Jesus is my desire. I long for His coming; my heart is still bursting with His praise." She then spoke of the Lord's goodness in sending her a Christian nurse to attend her.

While I was sitting at her bedside, she spoke as if talking with Jesus. She turned and said she saw Jesus and that He came for her, but not to give her any more sleep, but to take her to Himself. At another time she said, Do you know, you will be in the glory as soon as I" — and then entered with animation into some thoughts on the resurrection. Joy and peace filled her countenance.

About two o'clock, her breathing became dreadfully oppressed, so much so, as to prevent her speaking, except in broken words, "I pray — my Lord — Jesus — ten — ten — minutes relief — for Thy poor — weak — servant." Here was a pause; she looked as if her mind was altogether absorbed in heavenly things. But now and then would be heard, "for Jesus' sake," and "I ask for Jesus' sake" — "I want" —. Not more than a few minutes elapsed when there was quite a visible change; her breathing became calm, and, with a beautiful smile upon her countenance, she said, "The Lord has heard my prayer; I have never felt Him so near. Do you not see how much better I am? Will you bring me something to take?" On her getting some nourishment, she said, "Wonderful has this answer been to my prayer; let us exalt His name together, for He is dwelling here; His power is very present; it is better to put confidence in the Lord than to trust, or lean in any way, upon man." On being asked to take some medicine, "Prayer has done more for me than medicine; have I not much reason for praise and thankfulness? It should fill my heart."

When the following words were said, "The everlasting arms are underneath you, and His banner over you is love," she replied, "yes, I am living in the very power of this. I know the reality of it. They are no light words! I wish I could speak loudly of His goodness. The love of Jesus surrounds me on every side, and there is power keeping me up, or I should sink." She remarked how good the Lord was to her, in giving her so much rest from the laboured breathing, and that she had only asked for ten minutes; "but," she added, "He measures not His mercies to His people." Some one remarked, "How patiently she bears all" when a look of anguish came over her countenance, and she whispered, "Not my patience — there is no patience but in Jesus. He sweat great drops of blood for me; how great must have been His agony in the garden!"

On the first verse of "Rock of Ages" being repeated to her, she said, "I am on a firm foundation — Satan, death, or life, cannot shake me; when resting there, I feel very safe and happy."

On her little boy being brought to wish her good night, she kissed him affectionately and said to him, "Remember Jesus," which were her last words to him.

Here I conclude my extract from the above account, which to some of my readers may appear to be rather incongruous with the purport of these pages. I at first hesitated to give the extract at the length I have done. But as I wish to guard most decidedly against any appearance of intending, by my remarks on the meaning of "The Valley of the Shadow of Death," to detract from the blessed truth of our gracious Lord's especial presence with His departing saints, or to deprive them of the comfort of it; and as I have derived great blessing myself from the reading of the above account, which is little known; I thought it wrong to withhold, or even to shorten it more than I have done already. These pages are not written to meet the views or tastes of a certain portion of the flock, but for the benefit and comfort of the flock of God at large, as far as this can be done without sacrificing Divine truth. And if only one single, feeble, and suffering sheep or lamb of Christ's precious flock has derived strength and comfort for the hour of conflict from these pages, I shall feel amply rewarded.

We now proceed in our meditation.

"Thy staff and thy rod, they comfort me."

It is evident that the words "Staff" and "Rod" do not imply "correction" or "chastisement;" whether my Christian reader take the "Valley of the Shadow of Death" for this world, as a scene of death, or for death, the hour of departure, itself. For, if applied to a believer's life in this world, it is evident, from the Word, that "Staff" and "Rod" cannot mean "correction," as many take it; — for "no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous," whatever the result may be, and therefore it could not be said in this sense, "they comfort me." But if applied to the hour of death or departure, how could we for a moment entertain the thought of Christ "chastening" or "correcting" His suffering ones at that moment? The very thought would be monstrous. "Thy Staff and thy Rod* they comfort me." Thus it is clear that the meaning of those two words must be a widely different one, viz., "Staff" in the sense of "support," and "Rod" in the sense of "power and authority," as it was in the hand of Moses, when he lifted up his rod and stretched out his hand over the Red Sea, and the waters were divided, and the people walked on dry land in the midst of the sea. So the "Staff and Rod" of Him, of Whom Moses and his rod is a type, support and comfort His feeble flock, whilst passing through the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," so that we can always say, if truly leaning upon Him, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

{*"Rod," in the sense of correction, is an expression referring to the Father. (Heb. 12)}

When Bethany, that little "green spot" of true refreshment to the heart of that heavenly Stranger, Whose meat and drink it was to do the will of His Father Who sent Him, had, for a time, assumed the general character of the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," and bore the deserted aspect of death; when every head and heart there was bowed under the shadow or power of death, which had asserted its claim even upon him whom the Lord loved; there was One, moving in that place of death and consternation with the calmness of Divine Majesty. He could say, I am the resurrection and the life." His head was shining in the sunlight of resurrection, whilst His feet were walking through the dark "Valley of the Shadow of Death," until that blessed glorious head itself was bowed upon the cross, but only to utter the words, "It is finished!" Was it not the Staff of that good and great Shepherd that supported and comforted those two drooping lambs of His flock with the words, "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die," — before He lifted up the Rod of authority and power at the mouth of the grave, and spoke the word of Divine command, "Lazarus, come forth!"

Christian reader, is one of your beloved ones sick? Or has it pleased God, Who "moves in a mysterious way," to take away your Lazarus, or your Isaac, or Rachel? Remember, the "Staff and Rod" of His Son are ready to support and comfort every drooping, anxious, bleating sheep and lamb of His flock, as He Himself is ever the same, "Jesus Christ yesterday, and today, and for ever!" If our all-wise and all-gracious God and Father, the God Who blessed His servants Jacob and Job more in taking away than in giving, (heartbreaking work though it was to them, for the time), has seen fit to bless you in the same way; beloved, do not be discouraged under the "rod of correction," applied by the hand of a Father Who did not spare His only begotten Son, but delivered Him up for us, and laid the "chastisement of our peace" upon Him, that by His stripes we might be healed. Such a hand cannot inflict one needless pang, nor cause one single needless tear. He knows how to make us taste the sweetness of His love, whilst feeling the (natural) bitterness of the rod. And cannot we, beloved, acknowledge the Father's "rod of correction" in a way very different to that of Job?* We can begin where Job ended. Job said, "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!" We are enabled, through his wondrous grace, to say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord. He has only taken away, to give me all the more — not earthly blessings, as He gave afterwards to Jacob and Job — but to give Himself to me more fully." — Sad idolatrous hearts of ours, that require so often the withdrawal of a gift of that loving God, that we may be weaned from the creature, and return to and appreciate the loving grace, that is not wearied with repeating those painful lessons so often needed.

{*Though during the time of the trial we may not be able to do so, but surely afterwards.}

But beloved, if we through grace have learnt to submit to the "rod of correction," as applied by the hand of a loving Father, we shall surely experience the comfort and power of the "Staff and Rod," held and wielded by His Son, the blessed Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. His eye, once, before it closed in death, weeping with those that wept at the grave of Lazarus, now surveys from the height and light of glory, where He is seated at the right hand of God, all the sheep and lambs of His flock, as we are winding our way through this narrow and dark "Valley of the Shadow of Death," often scattered at the side of its dark mountains, and "fainting, yet pursuing," knowing that His "Staff and Rod" comfort us.

I have alluded, in passing, to the Lord's gracious dealings with His servant Job, who in himself is a figure of God's discipline with Israel (who were "going about to establish their own righteousness,") and of the unprecedented blessing that will result from it through God's marvellous grace. Let me now add a few words as to God's no less gracious ways with His servant Jacob,* whose checkered life prefigures, like that of Job, the discipline and blessing of Israel.

{*Only in a different aspect. Jacob represents God's perfect ways of discipline as to Israel's own ways — the discipline more prefigured in Jacob, and the blessing in Joseph. Each of the chiefs of the Patriarchs represents, as the reader will be aware, a different phase of Israel's history; Abraham, election; Isaac, sonship; Jacob, discipline; and Joseph, the final restoration and millennial blessing of Israel.}

In the long list of that bright and glorious cloud of witnesses of faith in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, we find Jacob, when a-dying." There was not much testimony of faith in Jacob's life, (only that he was not profane like Esau.) His faith was manifested on his quitting the "Valley of the Shadow of Death." What a halo there was around that death-bed, where the old Patriarch "blessed the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff." When he, a homeless youth, had fled from his father's house and the fury of Esau, he had nothing but this staff, — the bare ground for his bed, and a stone for his pillow.* It was then and there that the Lord had said to him, "Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

{*That stone was (1) Jacob's pillow, or resting-place, when he received God's blessings in promise. It was (2) his altar (Gen. 35:7.) Christ is all this. He is (1) our peace and rest, for all God's promise, are yea and Amen in Him, Who has made peace by the blood of His cross. (2) He is our altar (Heb. 13); and, lastly, He is the foundation-stone of the temple and habitation of God. And He is the ladder — the way — too.}

And how that blessed God, Who is faithful and "able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless with exceeding joy before the presence of his glory" — kept His poor faltering sheep, Jacob, during his adventurous life though indeed, sheep-like, he had often lost his way. God kept and blessed Jacob, in spite of Jacob, from the moment when He, from the top of that heaven-and-earth-uniting ladder, which was covered with the bright messengers of heaven, had announced to the sleeping solitary youth His intentions of blessing him, until Jacob's last hour, when the hoary Patriarch, on his death bed, blessed the sons of Joseph, counting on the promises of Him Who had roved so faithful to Jacob.

But what a retrospect from that death-bed to the starting upon his checkered life's journey, marked by the heavenward ladder of blessing! Could Jacob ever forget that ladder? Just as little as Peter ever forgot the transfiguration on the holy Mount, when a voice spoke to him, and to those with him, from the excellent glory, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!" Just as little as Paul could forget what he had seen and heard, when caught up, beyond the top of the ladder, into the third heaven. And yet, had not Peter, when he was young, and girded himself, and went whither he would, practically forgotten that he had seen that glorious One on the holy mount, and heard such a voice? — he thrice denied his Lord and Master. And had not Jacob, when he was young, and even when he was older, often acted as if he had never seen that glorious vision, nor heard that gracious voice, which spoke to him from the top of that ladder? Alas! the very staff in his hands was the memorial of Jacob's own ways and strayings. Had he not, during his changeful life, been wont to lean upon his staff, only not in the dependent posture of worship, but in self-confidence? Had he not, instead of waiting upon the Lord and biding His time, constantly turned to his own resources. trusting in his own deceitful heart, or in his own strength, or the clever contrivances of his ingenious spirit, to forestall the accomplishment of the promises of God given to his fathers and to himself? But "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," — the God Who had "hated Esau and loved Jacob" — had broken that rotten staff and shown Jacob the folly of leaning upon it. God had, by a life-long discipline, produced in Jacob those three blessed things, which the most excellent of his royal descendants had acquired, through the same grace, by way of deepest exercise and discipline after a grievous fall; I mean those three blessings mentioned in the 51st Psalm.
1. Broken bones (the seat of man's natural strength).
2. A broken spirit (man's natural wisdom, plans, and contrivances).
3. A broken and contrite heart (the seat of man's idolatrous affections).
Yes, Christian reader, He makes the bones which He has broken, rejoice. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart God will not despise. Jacob's death-bed was a proof of it.

The staff upon which the dying Patriarch was leaning, was not only a memorial of his own many strayings by following his own ways, but, at the same time, of God's long suffering and patience, and faithfulness to the promise He gave Jacob on the outset of his adventurous life, the days of which were "few and evil," as the aged pilgrim said before King Pharaoh, And, just as the staff upon which the dying body of the Patriarch was leaning, did not break under the weight, and thus proved to be a true and firm support, so Jacob, when at last he had learnt to rely fully and unreservedly on the Lord, and to lean upon Him not half, but wholly — had found that he could not sink with such a prop, and that that staff could never break, but was his support and comfort. Although in Egypt, whither he had come by God's direction, he was not now leaning upon the "staff of Egypt, which pierces the hand that leans upon it," but he had learnt that "in quietness and confidence shall be our strength." And, just as his body was leaning upon that memorable and, for Jacob, so characteristic "staff," so his whole soul was leaning at the moment of his exit from the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," upon Him, whose "Staff and Rod" comfort those who trust in Him, and Who had said to Jacob, "Fear not, I am with thee." What a scene of worship! though only in an Old Testament sense. "Lord, I have waited for thy salvation!" What moments full of brightness were those last hours of dying Jacob! At the outset of his life, when awaking from his vision at the foot of that ladder, he had said, "What a dreadful place is this!" When on his deathbed — a dreadful place indeed to every stranger to the grace of God! — Jacob is lost — in worship! "All is bright." He exclaims, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord! "

There was not only the humbling retrospect of the past, but the looking onward, though dimly, through a long, long vista, as it were, to the final accomplishment, in millennial glory, of the promises of God, given to his fathers Abraham — and Isaac — and to himself, when the vision of that heavenly ladder will become a blissful reality; when "the Lord will hear the heavens, and the heavens shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn and the wine and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel;" and when heaven will be "open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." No doubt the dim eye of dying Jacob, who then was wiser than Joseph, caught sight, like dying Moses from the top of Pisgah, of that millennial day of the Lord, which Abraham longed to see and, — he saw it.*

{*I think that those parenthetic words of Jacob, when speaking to Dan, who is compared to a serpent (among the Twelve Tribes of Rev. 7, Dan is not mentioned, and Manasseh put instead): "Lord, I have waited for thy salvation," are at the same time a prophetic expression of the position and prayer of the future remnant of Israel. So they will wait for His salvation, (Ex. 14:13) in those future days of unprecedented persecution on the part of Satan and Antichrist. They will "wait for His salvation" and will see it, only no longer dimly, like Jacob. They will see Him Whom they have pierced, tread upon the Mount of Olive and then that great outburst of exultant joy of delivered Israel will take place, "Hosannah, blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord! which dying Jacob's words, "I have waited for thy salvation!" — anticipated.}

"Thy staff and thy rod, they comfort me."

It was the staff of the blessed Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, that supported and comforted His sheep, scattered at His death, and gathered again at the news of His resurrection, when He hailed them with that message of unspeakable blessing and comfort, "Peace be unto you!" and "Why are ye troubled? Handle me!" And it was His rod of authority that directed the inhabitants of the element of death to the nets of His disciples, and invested restored Peter with the oversight of His flock.

And do not we, Christian reader, whilst walking through the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," and daily proving it to be such, sweetly experience the support and comfort of His staff and rod, Who is a very present help in trouble, and has said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee!" So that we may boldly say, not only, "The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want," but "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do unto me?"

He breaketh the staff of the wicked; but the poor of His oppressed flock, whose hearts are attached to His person, He feedeth with the "Staves of beauty and bands." So He did at the time of His presence on earth, when His own received Him not, but "weighed for his price thirty pieces of silver." And so He did at the time of the apostolic mission in Israel, when the poor of the flock for His name's sake were "counted as sheep for the slaughter." And that staff of "Beauty" and that of "Band," and that of support and comfort, and His rod of authority, has been at all times of the Christian era, and is still in these perilous latter days, wielded by the tender and yet almighty hand of the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.

"He visits those that are cut off [or hidden]. He seeketh the young one, and healeth that that is broken, and feedeth and beareth that that standeth still,"

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy staff and thy rod they comfort me!" Blessed for ever be Thy gracious and glorious name.