Daily Readings for April.
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token and a covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9. 13.
The rainbow is a token of the covenant of preservation made with Noah, and with all the creatures of the earth; it is fixed and sure; it may be considered also as an emblem of the covenant of grace (Isaiah 54. 9, 10); or rather, it may be an emblem of Christ himself (Revelations 10. 1), as appears in many particulars. When we are apt to fear being overwhelmed by rain, Jehovah shows the seal of his promise that we shall not. Thus he removes our fears, when we weep for sin and are afraid of a flood of wrath, by reminding us of the covenant of grace established in Jesus. The thicker the cloud, afterwards the brighter the bow in the cloud; so when afflictions abound, consolations do much more abound. The bow appears when part of the sky is clear; which intimates mercy remembered in the midst of wrath. The rainbow is caused by the reflection of the beams of the sun; so all the glory of the covenant of grace, and the significancy of the seals are derived from Christ, the Sun of righteousness. The bow speaks of terror; but this is without string or arrow, is directed upwards, and not to the earth. God looks upon the bow to remember his covenant; so should we, that we may be mindful of the covenant of grace with faith and thankfulness.
Christ's open arms like rainbows stand,
To grasp and save a guilty land;
Oh! take me, Lord, within thy bow,
And all its glories sweetly show.
God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6. 14.
A true believer has nothing to glory in but Christ alone. Even in his best peformances he will be often deeply humbled, and cry out, "Lord, enter not into judgment;" and well he may; for the ground of our glory, comfort, and salvation, is not in works, but in Christ, and in the free grace of God; who, for his Son's sake, lays nothing to our charge, but daily covers and richly pardons all our iniquities; and thus believers, walking steadily, might always be kept in solid peace; for the cross of Christ is a solid and unshaken foundation.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God;
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to his blood.
His dying crimsom, like a robe,
Spreads o'er his body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far to small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Purifying their hearts by faith. Acts 15. 9.
By faith in the Son of God we get an interest in his great and glorious salvation; we are justified by faith; we have peace with God by faith. This is an excellent grace, which brings us out of a state slavery and sin into the liberty of the sons and daughters of God, and will issue in everlasting salvation. Faith purifies the heart of man, naturally vicious, and unites us to Christ, the root of all holiness. Now, reader, examine yourself whether you be in the faith,- try the tree by its fruits: ask yourself these questions- Has my faith a purifying influence on my heart? Does the view of Christ dying for my iniquities, made me bitterly lament them, sincerely hate them, and seek the death of every one of them. Though there may be still much sin in me, is there none allowed? Is there none, no not one; no not that sin which does most easily beset me, which I desire to be spared and excused in? Do I rather look upon all sin as the enemy of Christ and my own soul, and as such do I hate it with a perfect hatred? Am I praying fervently for Divine grace to subdue it? and, in the strength of that grace, do I maintain a constant and vigorous war with it, determined never to give it any rest in my heart, never to cease conflict with it, till I have gained the complete and everlasting victory? Then thou art upright; go on and prosper.
That faith to me, O Lord, impart,,
Which, while it bringeth peace,
Will daily purify my heart,
And bring in holiness.
He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root, Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. Isaiah 27. 6.
Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward, chapter 37. 31.
They shall bring forth fruit in old age, they shall be fat and flourishing. Psalm 92. 14.
Her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17. 8.
The evangelical Christian look upon themselves as barren trees, ever crying out, "Oh my leanness, my leanness!" Even before the judgment seat of Christ, they acknowledge no fruits, nor will plead them, though they be fruitful. Matthew 25. 37-39. The reason is, they are poor in spirit, and are not pleased with their fruits, but only with Christ. Grant, O Lord, that I may earnestly seek to bring forth fruits, and may grow in fruitfulness as I grow in years, and never cease from yeilding fruit; hereby proving myself to be a tree of the Lord's planting, whose leaf is green, and whose branches are flourishing and fruitful. yet bless me also with deep poverty of spirit, that I may see myself still nothing, having nothing of my own to glory in, or to justify me; and thus esteem Christ my all, and rest upon him wholly.
Lord, 'tis a pleasant thing to stand
In gardens palnted by thy hand;
Let me within thy courts be seen,
Like a young cedar fresh and green.
There grow thy saints in faith and love,
Blest with thy influence from above;
Time, that doth all things else impair,
Still makes them flourish strong and fair.
Laden with fruits of age, thay show
The Lord is holy, just, and true;
None that attend his gates shall find
A God unfathful or unkind.
The breaker is come up before them; they have broken up, and have passed through the gate; and their King (as the Author and Finisher of faith) shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them. Micah 2. 13.
Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16. 33; Hebrews 12. 1, 2.
Sometimes the enemy sees to get an advantage over us; but the battle is not over yet. At last thou shalt have the victory, and carry the day for all that. In hard stuggles remember the power of Christ, who in his resurrection broke through everything. With him thou canst also break through, and be more than conqueror. Yea, in every conflict, if thy faith be firm, thou canst be sure of victory beforehand; for faith engages Christ's power, and his power ensureth victory; it is as impossible for thine enemies to keep thee always in bonds, as it was impossible that Christ could be kept in the grave by the stone, seal, and keepers. Nay, the greater the force is, the more glorious will be the victory of Christ over them.
Hosanna to our conqu'ring King!
The prince of darkness flies;
His troops rush headlong down to hell,
Like lightning from the skies.
There bound in chains the lions roar,
And fright the rescued sheep;
But heavy bars confine their power
And malice to the deep.
Hosanna to our conq'ring King!
All hail incarnate Love!
Ten thousand songs and glories wait
To crown thy head above.
Thy vict'ries and thy deathless fame
Through the whole wide world shall run,
And everlasting ages sing
The triumphs thou hast won.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?. Amos 3. 3.
They must be agreed in heart, in affection, in will, in their inclinations and pursuits, or they cannot walk together in any mutual confidence and comfortable communion; "What communion have light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" 2 Corinthians 6. 14, 15. We cannot walk with Jesus without a living union with him, a hearty love to him, and a holy delight in him; nor can he walk with us on any other principles. We cannot walk with each other without mutual love. A living union Jesus, cemented and sealed by his Holy Spirit, is the only bond of union and agreement between Christians, whereby they can walk together, to honour God, and their own benefit. Alas! how much it is to be lamented that those who, through grace, are thus united, should also be so visibly shy of each other, because they differ in lesser matters! O my dear Saviour, help me to be more agreed with thee, and walk more closely with thee, and in more real affection and love with all those who are really thine, to the praise and glory of thy grace. Amen and Amen.
May the grace of Christ our Saviour
And the Father's boundless love,
With the Holy Spirit's favour,
Rest upon us from above.
Thus shall we abide in union
With each other and the Lord,
And possess, in sweet communion,
Joys which earth cannot afford.
Let your moderation be known unto all men (Philippians 4. 5) for charity (that is love) edifieth.
1 Corinthians 8. 1.
If thou rebukest others, and wouldest have them to be like thee, thou oughtest examine thyself first, whether it flows from blind party zeal, impatience, and self will, or from a true principle of love; and whether thou art also in prayer for them, both before and after. He who lays the long-suffering of the Son of God truly to heart, and considers how gently he treated him, and still treats him like the weakest child, needs to be moderate also toward all men, and think, "If nobody will bear with others, surely I must." Lord, give me the right spirit of meekness, to show all lenity to my fellow Christians!
Watch o'er my lips, and guard them, Lord!
From every rash and heedless word;
Nor let my feet incline to tread
The guilty path where sinners lead.
Oh may the righteous, when I stray,
Smite, and reprove my wandering way!
Their gentle words, like ointment shed,
Shall never bruise, but cheer my head.
When I behold them press'd with grief,
I'll cry to heaven for their relief;
And by warm petitions prove
How much I prize their faithful love.
Put thou my tears into thy bottle; are they not in thy book? Psalm 56. 8.
Divine Answer: They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126. 5, 6.
Believer, if thou art now reaping in joy, and singing hymns of triumph, be thankful; but remember that this work belongs more to the next world than the present. Here weeping and rejoicing follow each other, and sorrow will oft find a lodging in the bosom of faith. For there is no retreat from the field of battle; and thine enemies will not leave thee while thou hast a breath to draw. It is, indeed, needful to be humbled under a sense of misery, so as to sigh, groan, and weep often; and this is the true seed for eternity. Not a single tear or groan will be lost. They are all in the book of the Lord.
God counts the sorrows of the saints,
Their groans affect his ears;
He has a book for their complaints,
A bottle for their tears.
The Lord can clear the darkest skies,
Can give us day for night;
Make drops of sacred sorrow rise
To rivers of delight.
Let those who sow in sadness wait
Till the fair harvest come;
They shall confess their sheaves are great,
And shout the blessings home.
The Lord heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble; and they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. For the needy shall not be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever. Psalm 6. 9; 9. 9, 10, 18.
Whoever would receive comfort from these word must first be sensible of his poverty and misery, and show it by confessing sins, and feeling nothing in himself but helplessness and unworthiness. He must come with all his poverty to a rich Saviour, and daily entreat his mercy; carefully remembering that the Lord has promised to supply all our wants, however great our poverty and misery may be. Therefore beware of unbelief, and do not suspect the Lord's kindness; but seek to him, and hope in him, expect all good things from him; assuring thyself that neither hope, nor thy prayer, nor a single sigh of thine, will be lost. O my God, grant me faith, that I may say, The Lord heareth my supplication; the Lord receiveth my prayer. Praise be to God, who hath not rejected my prayer, nor turned away his goodness from me, but is my protector and hope.
God hears when dust and ashes speak;
He pities all our groans;
He saves us for his mercy's sake,
And heals all our broken bones.
Lead us not into temptation. Matthew 6. 13. Divine Answer: God is faithful, who will not you to e tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corithians 10. 13.
The nearer to heaven, the higher the mountains, the deeper the valleys, and the sharper the conflicts. But be not discouraged: it is only for the trial of our faith. God gives also more strength, carries us through all, as he has done from the beginning, and suffers none to be ashamed who trust in him. Sometimes we may seem to be tempted above measure; and are afraid of being confounded; but far from it; it is quite impossible we should. Here thou hast the plain words of the Lord. Take hold on them and wait his time; for since the world stood, none have being confounded in anything who have waited for his promise; and surely he will not make thee his first instance of the failure of his word. By no means. Rather shall the mountains depart, and the hills be removed, says the lord that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54. 10.
Our God, how firm his promise stands
E'en when he hides his face!
He trusts in our Redeemer's hands
His glory and his grace.
Then why, my soul, these sad complaints,
Since Christ and we are one?
Thy God is faithful to the saints
Is faithful to his Son.
Beneath his smile my heart has lived,
And part of heaven possess'd
I'l praise his name for grace received,
And trust him for the rest.
O satisfy us early with thy mercy. Psalm 90. 14 God's Answer: Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. Psalm 81. 10. My people shall be satisfied with my goodness. Jeremiah 31. 14. The river of God is full of water. Psalm 65. 9. With joy shall he draw water out of the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12. 3. A fountainopened for sin and for all uncleanness. Zechariah 13. 1.
O my soul, keep close to the gospel; there only is a fulness to supply all wants; food for the hungry, and rainment for the naked soul; and everything in plenty. Whosoever will, May come and be fed and clothed, without money and price. Therefore let not the law hinder thee from eating and drinking, rejoicing and adorning thyself in a gospel manner.SThe law, as one justly observes, bring in a great bill, but nothing wherewith to discharge it. It sets the soul to working, but so as to neglect the proper nourishment necessary for it. No wonder, therefore, taht she is destitute of sufficient strength; that she faints, and never comes to the right mark. There is no such thing as making amends by the law; we must go directly to Christ, and receive first the grace required, out of his fulness, by faith.
Let every mortal ear attend
And every tongue rejoice;
The trumpet of the gospel sounds
With an inviting voice.
Rivers of love and mercy here
In a rich ocean join;
Salvation in abundance flows
Like floods of milk and wine.
Dear God, the treasures of thy love
Are everlasting mines;
Deep as our helpless miseries ar,
And boundless as our sins.
The happy gates of gospel grace
Stand open night and day
Lord, we are come to seek supplies
And drive our wants away.
Fear not, daughter of Sion. John 12.15. But greatly rejoice and shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, the King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation. Zechariah 9. 9. For the Lordhath taken away the judgments: he hath cast out thine enemy; the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: Thou shalt not see evil any more. Zephaniah 3. 15. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me; whosoever shall gather against thee shall fall for thy sake. Isaiah 54. 15. Let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. Jeremiah 15. 19.
How strong soever thine inward enemies, thy corruptions, may be now, fear not, and be not discouraged. Thy King is bound by his by his office, love, and promise, to help thee with strength to overcome: even the hardship of a Christian work together for his good in this world, and brighten his crown of glory in the world to come. To oft, instead of casting and leaving a burden on the Lord by faith at once we parley with temptation, and undertake to heal ourselves by a thousand contrivances; the effect of which is, to make a conflict long that might have been short, 2 Chronicles 16. 7, 8, 9. Lord, give me grace to be watchful, and to keep on the armour of faith, that, as I pass from conflict to conflict, I may pass on conquering and to conquer, daily pressing forward, and experiencing Jesus every hour my mighty King and Saviour.
My Lord, my Conqu'ror, and my King,
Thy sceptre and thy sword I sing
Thine is the vict'ry; and I sit
A joyful subject at thy feet.
Great Prophet, let me bless thy name;
By thee the joyful tidings came,
Of wrath appeased, of sins forgiv'n,
Of hell subdued, of peace with heav'n.
And the people did fear before the Lord. Then spake Haggai, I am with you , saith the Lord. Be storng, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work; for I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts; fear ye not. And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come. From this day will I bless you. Haggai 1. 12; 2. 4, 5, 7, 19.
When the Israelites returned from Babylon, every one hastened to his own house, and the house of the Lord lay desolate. Therefore God withdrew from them every temporal blessing, and he that earneth wages did "put it into a bag with holes." verse 6. Then said the prophet, "Consider your ways." Upon this the people feared the Lord, and he gave them assurance twice,
"I am with you." Then they built the house of the Lord; and from that day God again gave them temporal blessings. If we seek first the kingdom of God, every temporal good shall happen to us, else we may chance to put our money into a bag with holes. Let us therefore labour confidently in the spiritual house of our own souls and the souls of other men, fearing nothing, for as Christ, the consolation of the Gentiles, came to the second temple, and made it more glorious than the former; how much more will he come to the house and temple of our hearts, and be our sovereign comfort.
If God to build the house deny,
The builder works in vain;
And towns, without his wakeful eye,
An useless watch maintain.
Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. Isaiah 45. 15. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. Psalm 25. 10. The Lord of hosts is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working. Isaiah 28. 29.
God is wonderful in all his doings, his ways are past finding out; at the end we can see best the wise and gracious steps he took with us: therefore, when things take such a wonderful turn that we are quite at wits end, and do not know which way to go, we may believe the hand of the Lord is in it, and some good will come of it at last. As we experience the name of Christ to be wonderful at such times, we may well expect that he will show himself to be our Counsellor and mighty God also. At first, everything may seem to be against us, and go quite contrary; but, at last, we see plainly that it was highly needful that it should go contrary to our corrupt nature, and thus it went well; for though the ways of God are marvellous, yet they are glorious.
Great God, I would not ask to see
What futurity shall be;
If light and bliss attend my days,
Then let my furure hours be praise.
Is darkness and distress my share?
Then let me trust thy guardian care;
Enough for me if love divine
At length through every cloud shall shine.
Yet this my soul desires to know;
Be this my only wish below,
"That Christ is mine!" this great request
Grant, bounteous God, and I am blest.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Exodus 20. 8. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day. Revelations 1. 10.
Reader, I know not who or what thou art; but may the God of all grace bless this meditation to thy soul! Perhaps thou art a careless sinner, who to this day has trifled with sabbaths? Oh, do not ptrofane the Lord's day any more: but if thou hast any vlue for thy soul, attend upon this worship, and desire to be "in the Spirit" on this day: then wilt thou see and feel thy malady; look to Jesus for pardon, and sabbath days will precious to thy soul. Perhaps thou art, like the Pharisees of old, punctual in outward services - so far is praiseworthy; but awful is thy mistake if thou makest outward services the ground of thy acceptance, especially, as the language of the day is "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength;" and so wilt thou say if "in the Spirit." Or thou mayest have been a splendid professor, but now a grevious backslider - oh mayest thou be "in the Spirit of the Lord's day;" then thou wilt look to God for pardon, to Jesus for fresh sprinklings of his blood, and to the Spirit for quickening influences. If thou art a believer under sharp trials, mayest thou be "in the Spirit;" then, when tribulations abound, consolations may abound also. If thou art a believer walking close with God, rich in knowledge and experience, thou wilt wish to be "in the Spirit," that grace may be magnified, Jesus more Loved, and his name more honoured.
Reader! Whatever thou art, whether a master or a servant, parent or child, if thou wishest to be "in the Spirit," and wouldest have thy temporal and spiritual concerns prosper, make conscience of keeping the sabbath day holy.
The sabbath is design'd, I know,
To train my soul for heav'n;
Then let me keep and think it, too,
The best of all the seven.
Remember me, O God, for good. Nehemiah 13. 31. - Divine Answer:
Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him. Jeremiah 31. 20.
A book of rememberance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. Malachi 3. 16, 17, 18. I know the thoughts that I think toward you. Jeremiah 29. 11.
As soon as I appear with prayers before the Lord, he writes all my petitions in his book of rememberance. Should I not pray much? Yes, O Lord; and though I have many things already in thy book, yet I will give thee occasion to write down more and more every hour. Thus nothing can be forgotten; all will be granted by him. Delays we must expect; but all shall be made up with so much larger gifts in due time, though the best will be reserved for a blissful eternity.
Now let the Lord my Saviour smile,
And show my name upon his heart;
I would forget my pains awhile,
And in the pleasure lose the smart.
Dear Lord, imprint upon my breast,
And in the book of life my name;
I'd rather have it there impress'd
Than in the bright records of fame.
When the last fire burns all things here,
Those letters shall securely stand;
And in the Lamb's fair book appear,
Writ by th' eternal Father's hand.
And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things, full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. Isaiah 25. 6.
A feast bespeaks plenty, harmony, and joy. Many feasts were appointed under the law, in commemoration of various deliverances and mercies. The gospel appoints one great perpetual festival, in consequences of the one grand blessing which comprehends all other mercies - "redemption by the blood of Christ." The table is always spread, the company are always welcome, the season is always pleasant, and the joy is always new. Lord, I was once feeding upon the husks, upon ashes, upon the wind, and drinking down iniquity like water; but, oh wonderful love! thou didst invite and bring me to thine own feast. Thou feedest me with the bread of life, and causest me to drink the wine of thy consolation. May I never more have an appetite for the vanities of the world!
The Seventeenth of April.
Why was I made to hear thy voice,
And enter while there's room?
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come.
'Twas the same love that made the feast,
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perish'd in our sin.
And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15. 6.
It is no uncommon thing in Scripture to put the act for th object, especially with regard to faith and hope. Thus hope signifies the object of hope. Jeremiah 14. 8; 1 Timothy 1. 1; Hebrews 6. 18. And faith is often put for the object or doctrine of faith, or that which is believed in; as when it is said, Paul preached the faith which he once destroyed; and Felix heard him concerning the faith of Christ; and when scripture speaks of keeping and contending for the faith and holding the mystery of faith, and the like. Thus, when Abraham is said to believe in the Lord, the meaning is, he believed the promise of God, that he should have seed, and a very numerous one; he believed that the Messiah would spring from his seed; he believed in him as Saviour and Redeemer; he believed in him for righteousness; and he believed in his righteousness as justifying him before God. It was not the act of his faith, but the object of it; not the promise he believed, but what was promised, and his faith, received even Christ and his righteousness. See this fully explained in Romans 6. 3, 10, 22, 23,21. Reader, mark well how Abraham was justified before God, not by faith as a work, but as apprhending Christ, and follow this example of the father of the faithful. It is by faith in Jesus Christ alone that we can be justified before God; by faith all the Old Testament saints were justified, as well as the New. This distinguishes the Christian religion from all systems of morality; and to err in this is to err in the fundamentals of Christianity.
This do in remembrance of me. Luke 22. 19.
Come, my soul, obey the dying Lord's command: let it be thy delight, as it is thy privilege, to attend thy Master at the table, to take a nearer view of his bleeding love, and, by a renewed act of faith, obtain a fresh taste and renewed pledge of the precious benefits obtained therein. Stagger not through unbelief; it is a blessed truth, Jesus died for sinners; this is the foundation of the sinner's hope; let this encourage thee, O my soul; thou art a sinner, guilty and defiled. Jesus' blood cleanses from all sin; he is the Fountain opened for thy uncleanness; thou art by nature a child of wrath; condemned by the law; exposed to the curse; but Jesus was made a curse for thee; thou art unrighteous, unholy; but Jesus is made of God unto thee righteousness and sanctification: thou art weak, beset with enemies; his stregth shall be perfected in thy weakness, and thou, by faith, shall be more than conqueror through him that loved thee. Thou art afraid of persihing at the last; look to Jesus; he purchased thee with his blood, he will not give thee up; none can pluck thee out of his hand.
Rise then, O my soul, and come to the banquet of love, and partake of the blessings of the everlasting covenant; beseech the Lord to manifest his love, and seal thy pardon, renew thy strength, and enable thee to travel the remaining part of thy pilgrimage till thou come to Mount Zion, and be admitted a welcome guest at the marriage supper in heaven.
I thank thee, O my dying Lord,
For thine appointed feast;
Vouchsafe to meet me at thy board,
And smile upon thy guest.
I write ubto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. I write unto, father, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one 1 John 2. 12, 13.
God has saints of several degrees and sizes, and some of them have more communion with him than others. From among the multitude, he chose twelve to be with him; form among the twelve he chose three, Peter, James, and John, who were of the privy council; from among the three he chose out John, as his perculiar darling and bosom favourite, of whom it is said five times in St. John's Gospel, that "he was the disciple whom Jesus loved." So now, at this day, God hath his babes who live upon milk and nothing else; he "hath children also," who know their Father, and are assured of his love; moreover, he has his "young men, who go out to war, and fight the Lord's battles victoriuosly;" and he has "fathers in Israel, who abound in gray-headed experience and wisdom; for they knew him from the beginning, and they remembered his words." It is a great mercy to be one of "God's littel ones," yea, the least of all: to be a star, though not of the first magnitude; to be a disciple, though not a John, not one of the three, nor one of the twelve, nor one of the seveny; but to be a John, a darling, and to lean on his breast, to lie in his bosom, oh how great a mercy. It is a mercy to be new-born, to be taken into the family of God, and the household of faith; but to grow up to a pefect stature, to be a man in Christ Jesus, oh how great a mercy! Lord, thou knowest my desire; perfect that which concerns thy servant, yea, that which concerns all thy servants.
It does not yet appear
How great we must be made;
But when we see our Saviour there,
We shall be like our Head.
We would no longer lie
Like slaves beneath the throne;
Our faith shall Abba, Father, cry,
And thou thy kindred own.
Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moraih, and offer him there for a burnt-offering. Genesis 22. 2.
The Twenty First of April.
Abraham desired earnestly to see into the mystery of redemption; and God to instruct him in the best manner humanity is capable of receiving instruction, in the infinite extent of Divine goodness to mankind, who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, let Abraham feel by experience, what it was to lose a beloved son: - "Take now thy son, thine only son, thine Isaac, the staff of thine age, the hope of thy family - none else do I require - and offer him up for a burnt offering; and in this transaction see my love to sinners, when I shall give up my only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for them." Abraham obeyed; he virtually sacrifice his son; a ram was substituted in his place, and blessings are poured upon the faithful patriarch. In the whole story we have a lively type of greater things. We have seen the day when God spared not his own Son, when he was bound with cords, when he bore his cross, and on this mountain, probably on this very spot, was offering up an offering for sin; when he, triumphant, over the grave, rose again to live for evermore, and saw his seed, even his redeemed people, whom no man can number, and whose possessions are the glories of heaven and eternity. And now, my soul, meditate on these things. Art thou a son of Abraham? is there in thine heart a darling sin? God spared not his Son for me, and shall I spare what he commands to sacrifice? No, gracious Saviour, no. Help me to be faithful, to keep back nothing from thee. Search the ground of my heart. When thou hast tried me, crown the faith thou hast bestowed, and the obedience thou hast wrought, with that unfading glory thou hast promised to them that are faithful unto death.
I thank thee, Father, for the gift
Of thy beloved Son;
Now bid me give myself to thee,
And live to thee alone.
God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherein he hath loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2. 4-6.
Christ being the head of the body, his church, all who are real members are, together with him, dead, buried, raised up, and seated in heavenly places; for he is the new Adam, and has done all things as our representative in our stead, and for our good. Therefore, a true believer may rejoice and say, "I have suffered in thee, O my glorious Head, for all my sins already; I am discharged; I have no punishment to fear any more respecting the guilt and curse of sin. Thou hast fully answered charge against me, satisfied the infinite justice of God, for me; and it is impossible, with his equity and love, to require a double payment of my debts; consequently, I die no more, since thou canst die no more; nay, I live already, and have my place with thee eternally in heaven, since the Head cannot, nor will ever, part even with the weakest of his members, but influence and draw them after him wherever he goes."
O Lord, we praise thee for thy Son,
Who join'd our natures to his own;
The second Adam from the dust
Raises the ruins of the first.
By rebellion of one man
Through all the seed the miscief ran;
An by one man's obedience now
Are all his seed made righteous too.
Where sin did reign, and death abound,
There have the sons of Adam found
Abounding life; there glorious grace
Reigns thro'the Lord our Righteousness.
God hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5. 21.
To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4. 5.
The Twenty Third of April.
These are very sweet and precious words to those who look upon their own best virtues and performances by nature as sinful, and upon their best condition by grace as extremely weak and imperfect. How comfortable a thing is justification of the penitent by faith, when the soul was first stripped naked before God, and thoroughly convinced of wickedness and weakness. A mere moral man does not meddle with this; he pretends to make amends for his former sins by altering his course, and doing better works: but this is not making amends at all, since we are but unprofitable servants, and want continually forgiveness of sin, even when we have done all. There is but one way to be justified, and to obtain and preserve the blessing of a good conscience, which is by humbling and confessing ourselves guilty, and looking only for forgiveness and righteousness in Christ. Thus we are made by him the righteousness of God itself. May the Lord put us all in this way!
No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done;
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of thy Son.
Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus' sake;
Oh may my soul be found in him,
And of his righteousness partake.
The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before thy throne;
But faith can answer thy demands,
By pleading what my Lord has done.
Him (Jesus) hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5. 31.
Say not, What reason have I to repent? I am no murderer or robber: for thou art both. By thy sins thou hast murdered the Son of God, and by thy pride robbed God of his due service; therefore, if thy old heart be not changed into a new one, and yet thou feelest some uneasiness about thy salvation, do not look on this concern as a fit of the vapours, or as a temptation of the devil, but believe it is the work of Christ, who now awakes thee from the sleep of sin, and offers thee repentance, and who will change thy heart, and make a new man, if thou canst yield up thyself unto him. He stands at the door and knocks, and says, "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him."
Now Christ will every want supply,
And fill our hearts with peace;
He gives by covenant and by oath,
The riches of his grace.
Our heart, that flinty, stubborn thing,
That terrors cannot move,
That fears no threatenings of his wrath,
Shall be dissolved by love.
There shall his sacred Spirit dwell,
And deep engrave his law,
And every motion of our souls
To swift obedience draw.
Thus will he pour salvation down,
And we shall render praise;
He'll bless the people of his love,
And we'll adore his grace.
God is not the author of confusion. 1 Corinthains 14. 33. He hath made everything beautiful in his time; also, no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3. 11.
The Twenty Fifth of April.
O Lord, I am like a little cchild, knowing neither the beginning nor the end of my ways; but thou being a wonderful Counsellor, I think it my only wisdom to be advised and ruled by thee. Oh show me, then, always thy ways in all things, even in the least, that I may never miss to do thy work in due season and due order. Make me such a faithful steward, as not to go an inch from thy will, but on all occasions to act and suffer according to thy good pleasure.
Whither, oh, whither shall I fly,
But to my loving Saviour's breast?
Secure within thy arms to lie,
And safe beneath thy wings to rest.
I have no might to oppose the foe;
But everlasting strength is thine
Show me the way that I should go;
Show me the path I should decline.
Which shall I leave, and which pursue?
Thou only my Advisor be;
My God, I know not what to do;
But oh! my eyes are fix'd on thee.
Foolish, and impotent, and blind,
Lead me a way I have not known;
Bring me where I may my heaven find,
The heaven of loving thee alone.
Now he which stablished us with you in Christ, and hath annointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts 2 Corinthians 1. 21, 22; Ephesians 1. 14.
A sensible joy of faith, and great delight in prayer, are not the only evidences of this earnest and sealing of the Spirit: these sometimes are wanting when we know we are sealed by these marks; namely, when we receive Christ in all his offices, and have a sincere desire to do the will of God in all things; when we love the ordinances of Christ, and regard the children with a brotherly affection, and seek to do them good; when we hate sin, and watch and pray against it; and, lastly, when we are poor in spirit, vile in our own eyes, and led into further acquaintance with Christ himself, and with his gospel, by the Spirit. These are constant marks even for the weakest.
Why should the children of a King
Go mourning all their days?
Great Comforter, descend and bring
Some tokens of thy grace.
Dost thou not dwell in all thy saints,
And seal the heirs of heaven?
When wilt thou banish my complaints
And show my sins forgiven?
Assure my conscience her part
In the Redeemer's blood;
And bear witness with my heart
That I am born of God.
Thou art the earnest of his love,
The pledge of joys to come;
And thy soft wings, celestial Dove,
Will safe convey me home.
God be merciful to me a sinner. Luke 18. 13. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. Psalm 25. 18.
The Twenty Seventh of April.
Divine Answer: The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works. Psalm 145. 8, 9. Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. Matthew 9. 2.
Justification, or remission of sins before the tribunal of God, and the comfortable assurance of it in the heart, do not always go together. The pardon is passed in heaven at once, and in the most perfect manner; yet the sense of it may be wanting, for the assurance of that pardon is mostly given in degrees, as believers are able to receive it. Feeble glimpses appear now and then; and many love tokens usually pass between Christ and a believing soul, before the Spirit gives a full and clear witness to his conscience. Therefore, a penitent soul must converse much with the gospel, and pray continually for more light, and a greater degree of faith and peace.
O God of mercy, hear my call,
My load of guilt removed
Break down the separating wall
That bars me from his love.
Give me the presence of thy grace;
Then my rejoicing tongue
Shall speak aloud thy righteousness,
And make thy praise my song.
A soul oppress'd with sin's desert
My God will ne'er despise;
A humble groan, a broken heart,
Is our best sacrifice.
Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37. 4.
If thou desirest to delight thyself only in the Lord, and art more solicitious for the increase of faith, love and holiness, than temporal happiness; and wouldst even part with some earthly goods, provided it would enlarge thy spiritual welfare - this comes not from nature, but is an infallible mark of grace and regeneration; and the Lord shall give thee also the desires of thine heart, and even more than thou desirest. Nothing can be more foolish than to harbour one or more secret lusts in our hearts, after we have been once awakened. We must certainly enjoy it with half the pleasure as before; our course is hindered, and our peace disturbed. How much more prudent and profitable, then, would it be to forsake all, and follow Christ straight , who only can satisfy the desires of our heart! Consider this, O my soul! act the wiser part; let thine eye be single, and cleave to him alone; while others, seeking to serve two masters, God and mammon, and be woefully disappointed at last: avoid thou this folly, and be wholly for Christ. Thus thou wilt be able to taste the kisses of his mouth, and the crystal streams of comfortable and heavenly love.
Dear Saviour, let thy beauties be
My soul's eternal food;
And grace command my heart away
From all created good.
Heal my heart, O Lord, and I shall be healed. Jeremiah 17. 14.
The Twenty Ninth of April.
- Divine Answer: I am the Lord that healeth thee. Exodus 15. 20. They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. Matthew 9. 12. I have seen his ways, and will heal him. Isaiah 55. 18; 43. 3; 61. 1. He healed all that were sick. Matthew 8. 15-17.
Christ's healing all bodily sickness was a token of his power and grace to heal all spiritual diseases of our souls, though ever so desparate and dangerous. Therefore, give thyself only up to his cure; he understands thy distemper also, and will certainly restore thee. He has healed a great many already, nay. all those who ever desired it, of all their infirmities. Thou canst never be too miserable and bad before him; he is ever willing and able to help. The worse thy case is, the more he will pity thee, and have patience. Before we can be made whole, his way is to make us thoroughly sensible of our sickness, and lay our wounds more and more open. But as the physician then is most wanted, we must be more earnest to implore his help, and he will surely bind us up again, and heal us; yet thoroughly, at last; for he heals all, even the most incurable diseases. Psalm 103. 3.
Bind up, O Lord, and cheer my soul
With thy forgiving love;
Oh make my broken spirit whole,
And bid my pains remove.
Let not thy Spirit quite depart,
Nor drive me from thy face
Create anew my vicious heart,
And fill it with thy grace.
Confess your faults one to another. James 5. 16.
It is related of St. John the Evngelist, that being upon his return from Patmos to Ephesus, after the death of Domitian, he was set upon by a company of thieves, amongst whom was a young man, their captain. To whom St. John applied himself, by way of wholesome counsel and advice; which took so good effect, that he became a new man, and was converted, and went thereupon to all his fellow thieves, and besought them, in the name of Jesus Christ, that they walk no longer in their former wicked ways. He told them withal that he was troubled in conscience for his former wicked life, and earnestly entreated them, that as they tendered the welfare of their own souls, they would now leave off their old courses, and live more conscientiously, for the time to come. The counsel was good, and well-taken; so that many of those great robbers became great converts. Thus it is that one sinner's confess of his faults to another may happily prove the conversion of one by the other. Hence the meaning of that precept, "Confess your faults one to another," is interpreted by some:- That those who have been partners together in sin, should go to one to another, and seriously confess their sins each to the other, he that hath been a drunkard, or any otherwise a wicked liver, let him go to his companions in iniquity, and tell them that he is troubled in mind because of his former excess; and perhaps he may be a mean of converting them. Reader, art thou a converted man? Follow this method; go to thy old companions, warn them of their danger, and thou wilt either be a means of converting them or hereby will get rid of the troublesome company in future. Again, he who has injured another should confess his fault to the other as well as to God, and beg for forgiveness from both.
If I have wrong'd my neighbour ought,
Or led a soul astray,
Lord, give me grace to own my fault,
And to amend my way.