Daily Readings for May.
Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant. Psalm 143. 2. Divine Answer: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5. 21. See also chapter 8. 51; Isaiah 25. 8.
Since the Judge himself is our Brother, our Bridegroom, the Lord of death and life, yea, even our life, believers cannot die eternally, because "they are passed from death unto life." He that owns the justice of God's judgment, confesses himself guilty in all things, and appeals from from the judgment-seat to the mercy seat, him the Lord will own and justify through the righteousness of his Son; for, if we would judge oursleves, we should not be judged. Nay, we shall even sit in judgment together with Christ, 1 Corinthians 6. 2; and surely in that day we shall not pass a sentence of condemnation on ourselves, much less will Christ, for he loves us more tha we do ourselelves.
Who shall the Lord's elect condemn?
The God that justifies their souls;
And mercy, like a mighty stream,
O'er all their sins divinely rolls.
Who shall adjudge the saints to hell?
'Tis Christ that suffer'd in their stead;
And their salvation to fulfil,
Behold him rising from the dead.
Faith has a overcoming pow'r,
It triumphs in the dying hour;
Christ is our life, our joy, our hope,
Nor can we sink with such a prop.
Give heed to me, O Lord. Jeremiah 18. 19. Divine Answer: Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121. 4. Casing all your care upon God for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5. 7.
The care of the Lord, which he takes for his little one, infinitely exceeds the care of the most tender mother over her weak and helpless child. Then, whilst I feel and own myself weak, foolish, and wretched, and the Lord being the guardian of such babes, he will have pateince with me, for thy are the vessels of his grace; knowing myself, therefore, to be always a weak and ignorant child, I will labour to keep close to Jesus in waiting and prayer. And Since he is the Minister of the sanctuary, he will never let me want anything, that is good for me; but will defend me and feed me, and train me up in the best and most suitable manner.
Be thou my counsellor,
My pattern and my guide;
And through this desert land
Still keep me near thy side,
Oh let my feet
Ne'er run astray,
Nor rove, nor seek
The crooked way.
Should all the hosts of death,
And pow'rs of hell unknown,
Put their most dreadful forms
Of rage and mischief on;
I shall be safe
For Christ displays
And guarding grace.
They said unto the woman, Now we believe, and because of thy saying; for we heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. John 4. 42. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 1 Peter 2. 3.
It is an important thing to know assuredly that the Scripture has such a witness as experience, and that there is a real correspondence between the saints and the word, between the believer and Christ. This matter lieth out of the common road of the world. Sinners not awakened can have no experience of this kind, and therefore it is often ridiculed by them. But, oh, what an empty thing would religion be without experience and heart-felt knowledge of the truth! Experience is the sure and secret mark whereby the Christain knoweth the Scripture is of God, and feeleth his own interest in Christ; he has often been helped out of a dark plunge by the sealing of the word in his heart. Oh, wht an excellent interpreter is experience; taste and see; for thus the serious Christian getteth a view of the Scripture and spiritual things, which the most subtle and piercing eye of unsanctified schoolmen cannot reach. Psalm 34. 8; 116. 10; 2 Timothy 1. 12.; Galatians 2. 16; Hebrews 4. 2. This cannot be found in books; men will not meet it in a throng of the choicest notions; it confoundeth the the wise and disputer of this world, whilethe meanest and most simple Christian understand it well, to the sanctification of his soul. Reader, pressafter experience; live not by hearsay, and upon the comforts of others, but seek to the Lord, that he would give thee this inward testimony; it will help thee in future trials; it will remove many of the fears, make thy passage through life easy, and comfortable, and be as a pledge of thy future glory.
'Tis well to hear and read the word,
Its truth to see and own;
But there must be experience too,
Or yet thou art undone.
Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. Mark 8. 34, 35; Luke 9. 23.
Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14. 33.
This doctrine is discarded by all who call Christ "Lord, Lord, but do not the things which he saith." The language of the heart is, "Speak unto us sooth things, prophesy deceits." Isaiah 30. 10. How different was that of the apostle! "So fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." 1 Corithians 9. 26, 27. No cross, no crown; let us not then be afraid of the cross; for when we bear it, it bears us; and when we refuse to take it up we refuse the staff of every Christian pilgrim, and the weapon of every Christain soldier; we renounce the tree of life for that of knowledge, and practically "deny Christ and him crucified."
Give me, O Lord, a sober mind,
A steady, self-renouncing will,
That tramples down and casts behind,
The dealy baits of pleasing ill.
What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11. 24.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, and he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John 16. 23, 24. But ask in faith, not wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea. Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. James 1. 6, 7.
Herod promised with an oath to give the daughter of Herodias whatever she would ask, even to the half of his kingdom. How advantageous was his promise! but how much more so that of the Lord! "By myself have I sworn," says he, "that in blessing I will bless thee," Genesis 22. 16, 17. When he bids us ask, he does not lay us under a restriction of not asking above half a kingdom. No: we may ask a whole kingdom, even the kingdom of heaven, consisting both of grace and glory. Both are purchased for us by the blood of the Lamb; both promised to believers in the word of the gospel, and both actually bestowed; grace upon praying souls in the church militant -- glory upon praising souls in the church triumphant. If now we do not enjoy the kingdom of grace, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, it is merely because we have not asked, or have asked amiss; this is, without faith, without patience, or in our own name, and not in the all-prevailing name of Jesus.
Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to Christ alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries, It shall be done!
O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. Psalm 25. 11. Divine Answer: Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Romans 5. 20. God will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55. 7.
It is all one with God to forgive a repentant sinner his trespasses, whether great or small, many or few; for they are all paid with one ransom. No sin, properly speaking, is little in itself; and none greater than the grace of God, and the infinite price laid down for it. Whatever sins, therefore, a man feels, yet he may thrown himself upon the abounding grace of God: but this grace must always be our comfort, to depend upon it alone, even when it is best with us; for then only it is best with us when we depend alone on grace, and live in it as in our element.
Why does your face, ye humble souls,
Those mournful colours wear?
What doubts are these that waste your faith,
And nourish your despair?
What though your numerous sins exceed
The stars that fill the skies?
And, aiming at the eternal throne,
Like pointed mountains rise?
See here an endless ocean flows
Of never-failing grace;
Behold a dying Saviour's veins
The sacred flood increase!
It rises high, and drowns the hills,
Has neither shore nor bound;
Now if we search to find our sins,
Our sins can ne'er be found.
Have mercy upon me, O lord, for I am weak.
Psalm 6. 2. Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Psalm 119. 28.
Divine Answer: My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12. 9. The Lord delighteth not in the strength of a horse; he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. Psalm 147. 10, 11. The Lord our Strength, mighty God and Immanuel, will give strength unto his people. Psalm 29. 11.
In whatever part we are weak, and most beset by corrupt nature, we may yet be strong enough, through grace, to come off conquerors; therefor, hope against hope; hope, and despair not of overcoming by the power of God, be thy corruptions within, and thy enemies without, ever so strong and obstinate. I am weak indeed, but Christ is strong; I am poor, he is rich; I am sick, he the Physician of the sick, I am a sinner, he is the Saviour of sinners; consequently, he suits me, and I suit him, extremely well. But let me look to him daily, seek his face earnestly, and grace to help in every time of need.
Let me but hear my Saviour say,
"Strength shall be equal to thy day;"
Then I rejoice in deep distress
Leaning on all-sufficient grace.
I glory in infirmity,
That Christ's own power may rest on me;
When I am weak, the I am strong;
Grace is my shield, and Christ my song.
I can do all things, or can bear
All sufferings, if my Lord be there;
Sweet pleasures mingle with the pains
While his left hand my head sustains.
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto acoording to thy word. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Remove from me the way of lying; grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth; thy judgments have I laid before me. Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Psalm 119, 9, 18, 29, 30, 33.
Neither the old nor the young can walk uprightly, without taking heed to the word of God; if they depart from that, they soon fall into error and vicious courses; but if they would make the word their rule, they must read it carefully, and pray diligently, for the enlightening of the Holy Spirit. If David considered his eyes as shaut, how much more should we consider our so, and pray, "Open thou mine eyes!" etc. He who doth not fervently pray thus, is still blind, and hath not an eye; even though he should think himself a profound divine, and be so esteemed by others. Lord, give me to see the wonders both of thy law and gospel, and turn my feet from every crooked path. Let thy commandments be always before me as my guide, and enable me to choose the narrow path of truth, and steadfastly to walk in it to the end; for this was David's request throughout this long Psalm.
How shall the young secure their hearts,
And guard their life from sin?
Thy word the choicest rules imparts
To keep the conscience clean.
Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path because of mine enemies. Psalm 27. 11. Teach me thy way , O Lord; I will walk in thy truth; unite my heart to fear thy name. Psalm 86. 11. -- Divine Answer: Good and upright is the Lord; hterefore will he teach sinners in the way. What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. Psalm 25. 8, 12.
O Lord, be pleased to fulfil this gracious promise in me also. Thou hast inclined my heart to do thy will, and yet I am ofetn in darkness about thy will. Here it is written, "Good and upright is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way." It is thy own word; I may depend upon it, and would plead it with thee; many time thou hast fulfilled this promise already, and art willing and ableto do it evermore for thy own name's sake. Thou art ever mindful of thy work, and I would keep close unto it. Then let thy Spirit explain thy word, and write it on my heart enabling me to understand, to love, and to practise it.
I lift my soul to God,
My trust is in his name;
Let not my foes that see my blood
Still triumph in my shame.
Sin and the powers of hell
Persuade me to despair;
Lord, let me know thy cov'nant well,
That I may 'scape the snare.
The Lord is just and kind;
The meek shall learn his ways;
And every humble sinner find
The methods of his grace.
For his own goodness' sake,
He saves my soul from shame;
He pardons (though my guilt be great)
Through my Redeemer's name.
Turn again our captivity, O Lord. Psalm 126. 4. Divine Answer: The Lord hath appointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Isaiah 61. 1. For thus saith the Lord, etc., I will give thee for a covenant of the people, etc., that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst. Isaiah 49. 8-10. See also chapter 35. 10.
O Lord, I am hungering after righteousness and freedom, not only of faith, but of holiness also; not that I may make holiness the foundation of hope, but the evidence of faith; and that I may be able to rejoice and take comfort of thy righteousness alone, without deceiving my soul. Grant, therefore that I may be truly filled, and may be strong, easy, and free, so as to be kept no longer in any of the most subtle bonds, either of the law, unbelief and a bad conscience, and of a carnal worldly mind.
Buried in the shadows of the night,
We lie till Christ restores the night
Wisdom descends to heal the blind,
And chase the darkness from the mind.
Jesus beholds where Satan reigns,
He sets the pris'ners free, and breaks
The iron bondage from their necks.
Poor, helpless worms in thee possess,
Grace, wisdom, power and righteousness;
Thou art our mighty all, and we
Give our whole selves, O Lord, to thee.
How long wilt thou hide thy face from me, O Lord?. Psalm 13. 1 God's Answer: For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee. For this is as the waters of noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. Isaiah 54. 7-9.
When the Lord is pleased to quicken us in our prayers with a lively impression of one or more promises, we are apt to think that the hour of help is come. But afterwards, it may be, he not only hides himself for a great while again, but hings take even a strange and contary course, as if all had been nothing, or as if nothing was more uncertain than the word of God - nay, even than God himself. They who deny such temptations are strangers both to themselves and to the devices of Satan. But Christians must then be prudently upon their guard, thinking that God is going to do some glorious things for them; for if they be first convinced of their utter unworthiness, if they act with faith and patience, and be more earnest in prayers, they are fit to receive so mush more grace afterwards. Though yet, after all, God, as a Sovereign, will give such measure of grace, at such seasons, and to such persons as he pleases.
Dear Lord, behold our sore distress;
Our sins attempt to reign;
Stretch out tine arm of conqu'ring grace,
And let thy foes be slain.
If thou despise a mortal groan,
Yet hear a Saviour's blood;
An advocate so near the throne
Pleads and prevails with God.
How boundless is our Father's grace,
In height, in depth, and length!
He made his Son our righteousness:
His Spirit is our strength.
How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? Psalm 13. 1.
Divine Answer: Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands: thy walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49. 15, 16. I will not leave you comfortless. John 14. 18.
Were all our sins and afflictions so soon to be prayed away with a few words, whence these sad and repeated complaints of David? Why should God advise us to wait for him, and persevere in hope? And how could faith and pateince be exercised? In our closets we may be lifted up with high speculations; seem to be strong, and able to leap over all the walls; but in great distress we see how dejected and distrusting our hearts often are (Psalm 30. 7, 8); but the Lord preserves us.
Can a woman's tender care
Cease toward the child she bare
Yes, ahe may forgetful be;
Yet will I remember thee.
Mine is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above,
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death.
Thou shalt see my glory soon,
When the work of grace is done;
Partner of my throne shalt be:
Say, poor sinner, lov'st thou me?
Lord, it is my chief compaint,
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love thee, and adore;
Oh for grace to love thee more.
Show me thy ways , O Lord; teach me thy paths. Psalm 25. 4. Show me now thy way, that I may know thee. Exodus 33. 13.
Divine Answer: I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go. I will guide thee with mine eye. Psalm 32.8. My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. Exodus 33. 14.
O Lord, suffer me not to step aside one inch from thy way, much less fall away from thee, the true Vine and Fortress of my soul, by plausible insinuation of my own brain and imagination. May I never run before thou hast called me, to the hurt of my soul; but constantly and confidently abide in thee, always drawing first the necessary light and strength from thee by never-ceasing supplications. Grant that, my eye being fixed constantly thee, I may be guided into all truth, my doings being attended with thy blessings, and my whole life a constant progress towards heaven.
I will keep thee as the apple of mine eye, that no evil shall come near thee. As a careful mother watches over her child, so have I undertaken to teach thee my path, and guide thee with my own eyes. Whatever faintings and fastings may befall thee, yet I will be ever faithful, raising thee up again, and leading thee evermore in my ways. Nay, as a good Shepherd, I will carry thee in my own arms, whenever thy increasing weakness shall require.
My honour is engaged to save
The meanest of thy sheep;
All that my heavenly Father gave,
My hands securely keep.
By these, my son, be admonished. Eccelesiates 12. 12 As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. 1 Peter 2. 2.
New-born babes must not, self-conceitedly, be desious of high things and strong meat. Such have more need experimentally to understand the first oracles of Christ, and taste the milk and saving power of the gospel. This would bestmake them grow in grace, and wean them from the world, since a sucking child esteems nothing else in comparison of its mother's breast; and those that delight in more lofty, vain imaginations than the Bible, do not follow the right spirit, and at last must come to their catechism again. For the more a Christian is approaching to his end, and desires to be duly prepared for heaven, the more he walks in deep humility and godly simplicity, placing himself on the lowest bench of weak and little children. And thus they are fittest vessels of grace; they will certainly be enlightened, and have the mystery of Christ reveaed in their hearts. Matthew 11. 25.
There was an hour when Christ rejoiced,
And spoke his joy in words of praise;
Father, I thank thee, mighty God,
Lord of heaven, and earth and seas.
I thank thy sov'reign power and love
That crowns my doctrine with success;
And makes babes in knowledge learn
The height, and breadth, and length of grace.
But all this glory lies conceal'd
From men of prudence and of wit;
The prince of darkness blinds their eyes,
And their own pride resists the light.
Father, 'tis thus, because thy will
Chose and ordain'd it should be so;
'Tis thy delight to abase the proud,
And lay the haughty scorner low.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened, etc. Epensians 3. 14-16. Read on to verse 21.
This is a prayer and form fit to be used by ministers for their congregations, and by all Christians for themselves: it may be used as a daily prayer; we should offer it up in faith, without apprehending that the favour we ask is too great. God will do exceedingly more for us than we can either ask or understand. Whatever we ask, he will grant us still more; for though we are sinners; and to every one of us (chapter 4. 7) is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ, that we may enjoy all things richly, Christ being rich towards all them that call upon him. O God, thou art our Father, reconciled to us in Christ; grant us, therefore, power, great power, according to the riches of thy glory, not according to the narrowness of our hearts. We stand in need of great power, for we have great enemies: strengthen us by thy Spirit in the inner man. Lord Jesus, do thou dwell in our hearts, and grant us to be rooted in thy love, that we may know it more and more, and that it may be shed abroad in our hearts, and that we may be filled with all the fulness of God.
To thee, my God, I daily sigh,
But not for golden stores;
Nor covet I the brightest gem
On the rich eastern shores.
Nor pleasure's soft, enticing charms
My fond desires allure;
Far greater things than earth can yield
My wishes would secure.
Though blissful, those transporting smiles,
That brighten heaven above
The boundless riches of thy grace,
The treasures of thy love.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear. Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. Therefore, remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. Psalm 119. 11, 38; and verses 7, 32, 49.
Gospel comforts sweetly and powerfully urge us to obedience; and law terrore check us from resting on that obedience. Both are needful to guard us from security and legality. Whosoever depises or neglects obedience, entertains a false notion of the gospel, and is running headlong into licentiousness and rui; and he who relies on his obedience to justify him defeats the design of the gospel, and frustrates the grace of God, making it of no effect. May the Lord lead and keep us in the right way.
Laden with grief, and full of fears,
I fly to thee, my Lord;
And not a glimpse of hope appears
But in thy written word.
This is the judge that ends the strife,
Where wit and reason fail;
My guide to everlasting life,
Through all this gloomy vale.
Oh may thy counsels, mighty God,
My roving feet command;
Nor I forsake the happy road
That leads to thy right hand.
I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loveth me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2. 19, 20.
Christ being our Head, in whom all fulness dwells, he will certainly fill all his members with life and strength, according to his promise, John 14. 19; "Because I live, ye shall live also;" and chapter 17. 3; "This is life eternal," etc. To know Christ, and God in Christ, as love is true light, and life; he that has this has enough. Oh the excellency of the knowledge of Christ! O Lord, teach me to know thee as the Bridegroom of my soul, that the law may not rush into my conscience, now thy bridechamber, and condemn me any more. I desire to be devoted to thee alone, Romans 7. 4. Grant, therefore, that my whole heart and life, all my words and actions, may be governed only by a living faith on thee, who hast loved me and given thyself for me.
Come, dearest Lord, descend and dwell
By faith and love in every breast;
Then shall we know, and taste, and feel
The joys that cannot be express'd.
Come, fill our hearts with inward strength,
Make our enlarged souls possess,
And learn the height, and breadth, and length
Of thine immeasurable grace.
Now of the God whose power can do
More than our thoughts or wishes know,
Be everlasting honours done
By all the church, thro' Christ his Son.
I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. Psalm 109. 22.
Divine Answer: I know thy poverty, but thou art rich. Revelation 2. 9. For, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5. 3. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. Psalm 22. 26. The Lord healeth the broken in heart; the Lord lifteth up the meek. Psalm 147. 3, 6. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment into victory. Matthew 12. 20.
Such are the tender mercies of Christ towards the weakest of his people, that he supplies them from time to time with all proportionable strength, till at last they are able to gain complete victory. As soon, therefore, as we are sensible of our poverty or miserable condition, and are desirous of grace and strength to overcome sin, and evidence that desire to be sincere by constant prayer, we have actually some grace and spiritual life, and are delivered already from the jaws of hell; for there is no such feeling in dead souls; and in hell there is only a desire to be delivered from the punishment of sin, but not from sin itself.
I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8. 12. Therefore, Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh in the darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. Chapter 12. 35.
He that is faithful, keeping ever close to Christ, and his light, strictly watching and obeying the motions of his Spirit, will be evermore tender in conscience, and receive so much more light: consequently, he will be from time to time more deeply rooted in repentance, faith, and assurance, so as either to be preserved from many combats and disorders, or at least be carried sooner through the same. He may meet with dark valleys in his pilgrimage, (for nature is covered with darkness, and grace somtimes only glimmers with a spark,) yet by degrees it will blaze, and at last break through, and enlighten all our darkness.
Bless'd are the humble souls that see
Their emptiness and poverty;
Treasures of grace to them are giv'n,
And crowns of joy laid up in heav'n.
Bless'd are the men of broken heart,
Who mourn for sin with inward smart;
The blood of Christ divinely flows,
A healing balm for all their woes.
Is he a star? He breaks the night,
Piercing the shades with dawning light;
I know his glories from afar,
I know the bright, the morning star.
Is he a sun? His beams are grace;
His course is joy and righteousness;
Nations rejoice when he appears,
To chase their clouds and dry their tears.
Nor earth, nor seas, nor sun, nor stars,
Nor heaven his full resemblance bears;
His beauties we can never trace,
Till we behold him face to face.
Oh let me climb those higher skies,
When storms and darkness never rise!
There he displays his pow'rs abroad,
And shines and reigns th' incarnate God.
I am the Lord God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. Oh that that thou hadst hearkened to my commanments! then had thy peace been as the river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea. Isaiah 48. 17, 18. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and I will sup with him, and he with me. Revelations 3. 20.
How often and how variously does the Lord knock at the door of our hearts, by the voice of his word, the voice of his Spirit, or the voice of conscience! But how seldom are we inclined to give him the hearing! We are often so distracted with business or pleasure that we hardly observe his voice, through the hurry and noise of worldly things; and we are not at home when he knocks, and seeks to take up his abode with us. Well, even now he is knocking by this paper. Hearken to his voice, and open the door to him directly, since he desires nothing from us that might be grevious; but intends to make our heart a glorious residence and banqueting-room of love, to fill it with heavenly treasure, and give us everything along with himself.
I'll bring him to my mother's home,
Nor does my Lord refuse to come
To Zion's sacred chambers, where
My soul first drew the vital air.
He gives me there his bleeding heart,
Pierced for my sake with deadly smart;
I give my soul to him, and there
Our love their tokens share.
I charge you all, ye earthly toys,
Approach not to disturb my joys;
Nor sin, nor hell, come near my heart,
Nor cause my Saviour to depart.
I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. John 15. 1-5.
O Lord, I trust that this word will have its accomplishment in me also, though as yet I have great reason to be humbled on account of my barrenness. Grant, therefore, that I may always abide in thee faithfully and quietly; since there is everything in thy power, and nothing can be done by our own strength: but as it is thy will, and it tends both to the glory of thy Father and thine own, I depend upon being replenished in due season with fruits of righteousness. Oh, suffer nothing in me which may dishonour thy name, and which would prove hurtful to myself, and offensive to others! But whatever thou thinkest as yet fit for me to suffer, let it work my real good.
How can I sufficiently adore the patience of the Lord, my gracious Husbandman, who still bears with me, the weakest of all branches? He has not cut me off yet, but still dresses me, to bring forth more fruit, though, like a degenerate plant, I yield little else but wild grapes. Why then shouldest thou grumble, O my heart, the application of the pruning-knife? It is really for thy good. He is angry only with the degenerate, unfruitful branches. The more these are purged, the more fruit thou shalt bring forth.
Is He the vine? His heavenly root
Supplies the boughs with life and fruit;
O let a lasting union join
My soul to Him, the living Vine!
I am glorified in them: I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved we may be in them, and I in them: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one. John 17. 10, 23, 26.
O glorious promise! - how could he love us more? What blessed and intimate union is this! Oh for such a faith that could always truly believe it! Christ is the Vine, believers are the branches; he is the Bridegroom, they are the bride; he is the Head, they are the members of his body, of the very flesh and very bones, and consequently one body with him. And who ever hated his own flesh? So in loving and cherishing believers, he loves himself. Ephesians 5. 28, 29. Whenever he shall cease to love himself, then, and no sooner, shall he cease to love and cherish them also. It is his own delight to do them good, more than the mother that suckles her child.
Lord, what a heaven of saving grace
Shines through the beauties of thy face
And lights our passions to a flame!
Lord, how we love thy charming name!
When I can say, My God is mine
When I can feel thy glories shine,
I tread the world beneath my feet,
And all that the earth calls good and great.
Send comforts down from thy right hand,
While we pass through this barren land;
And in thy temple let us see
A glimpse of love, a glimpse of thee.
I am weary with my groaning. Psalm 6. 6.
Divine Answer: He giveth power to the faint: and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Isaiah 40. 29. I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. Jeremiah 31. 25 Therefore, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11. 28-30.
Here Christ is commending his own meekness, both as a pattern for imitation, and as an encouragement for heavy-laden sinners to draw near to him with confidence. And his rest is promised not for the merit of our labour and humility, but merely for our coming to him, and believing in him. He says, "Take my yoke upon you." "But how shall I take it?""Why," says Christ, "learn of me: let me be your teacher, and though you are blind and foolish, fretful and forgetful, yea, wholly polluted with sin, I can bear with you, because I am meek and lowly in heart; not rough and haughty to offenders as Pharisees usually are, but full of compasion towards them, willing to receive them, and ready to forgive and comfort them," etc. Come therefore to him, O sinner. with all thy load of sin and misery, and he will nowise cast thee out, but receive thee gladly.
Come hither, all ye weary souls,
Ye heavy laden sinners, come;
I'll give you rest from all your toils,
And raise you to my heav'nly home.
Bless'd is the man whose shoulders take
My yoke, and bear it with delight;
My yoke is easy to his neck,
My grace shall make the burden light.
Jesus, we come at thy command
With faith, and hope, and humble zeal;
Resign our spirits to thy hand,
To mould and guide us at thy will.
I have gone astay like a lost sheep; seek thy servant. Psalm 119 176.
God's Answer: Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick. Ezekial 34. 11, 10. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom. Isaiah 40. 11.
He that is wise in his own conceit, as philosophers usually are, does not pray, like David, to be sought after and healed, by Jesus Christ; and therefore he continues amidst all his boasted wisdom, deeply ignorant of his fallen nature, and ruined state. But, as thou hast given me, O thou good Shepherd, to understand my lost and helpless condition; and that, like a wandering sheep, I can neither find myself when lost, nor advise myself how to return, - I bssech thee to seek, heal, lead, feed, carry, and strengthen me also as my various needs require; that I may be able to say with David, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
My Shepherd will supply my need,
Jehovah is his name;
In pastures fresh he makes me feel,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back,
When I forsake his ways,
And leads me, for his mercy sake,
In paths of truth and grace.
The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days,
Oh may thy house be mine abode,
And all my work be praise.
I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant. Genesis 32. 10. Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto. 2 Samuel 7. 18.
A soul truly humbled highly esteems every favour, and judges itself utterly unworthy of the least, looking upon everything as a free gift, and bestowed only for Jesus Christ's sake. Now, O my dear Father, it is true, in myself I deserve none - no, not the least of thy mercies; but, as thou hast graciously, looked upon me, and given me thine only Son, who hath purchased all blessings at a high price for sinners, I do believe that goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. Amen. Be it so, holy Father, to thy glory and my everlasting joy.
Now to the pow'r of God supreme
Be everlasting honours given;
He save from hell (we bless his name),
He calls our wand'ring feet to heav'n.
Not for our duties or deserts,
But of his own abounding grace
He works salvation in our hearts,
And forms a people for his praise.
'Twas his own purpose that begun
To rescue rebels doom'd to die;
He gave us grace in Christ his Son,
Before he spread the starry sky.
Jesus, the Lord, appears at last,
And makes his Father's counsels known
Declares the great transaction past,
And brings immortal blessings down.
I bessech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Romans 12. 1,2.
The presenting our bodies a living sacrifice unto God, when attended with serious prayer and reading the Scriptures, is the best means of knowing the will of God. To neglect this, and use other means is tempting God, and exposing ourselves to the temptations and siftings of the wicked one. We may think ourselves to be divinely convinced by faith of the will of God, though we follow our own imaginations, and spoil the best of our actions. Self-will generally takes quick resolutions, and has a great deal of assurance: whereas, God very often leads his people blindly, and takes methods quite different from ours. Who, therefore, believes, shall not make haste, Isaiah 28. 16. Let every one be careful that he does not mistake self-will and plausible representaions for Divine convictions and assurance of faith, always strictly examine himself first, whether his body, soul, will, affections, are entirely offered up to the good-will and pleasure of God, for God requires the service of the whole man, even a sacrificing our whole selves to him at all times, not only in the house, but in all other places: that we do not conform to the world, but be daily transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Though lifted eyes salute the skies
And bended knees the ground;
Yet God abhors the sacrifice
Where truth cannot be found.
Lord, search my thoughts, and try my ways,
And make my soul sincere;
Then shall I stand before thy face,
And find acceptance there.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61. 10.
In vain dost thou dress and adorn thyself, O my soul, before thou approachest Christ. To him thou must come, filthy, naked, and miserable as thou art; he will clothe and adorn thee himself; and in this ornament alone thou shalt rejoice. For the very best of our robes and performances are not without spots, but still want to be washed in the blood of Christ, and covered with this ornament, Revelation 7. 14. This, and this alone, is the way to rejoice and maintain true peace. This will enable us to rejoice that our names are written in heaven.
The Twenty Seventh of May.
Awake, my heart; arise, my tongue,
Prepare a tuneful voice;
In God, the life of all my joys,
Aloud will I rejoice.
'Tis he adorn'd my naked soul
And made salvation mine;
Upon a poor polluted worm
He makes his grace to shine.
The Spirit wrought my faith and love,
And hope, and ev'ry grace;
But Jesus spent his life to work
The robe of righeousness.
Strangely, my soul, art thou array'd
By the great sacred Three;
In sweetest harmony of praise,
Let all thy powers agree.
I have sinned against the Lord.
Divine Answer:The Lord also hath put away thy sin: thou shalt not die. 2 Samuel 12. 13. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11. 31.
He that, with unfeigned repentance, accuses and judges himself, accounting his own righteousness and best doings a filthy rags, and seeks for mercy through Jesus, may expect forgiveness for all his sins at once, though chastisement may follow; for pardons are not bestowed in parcels or various measures, as spiritual gifts are. God, through Christ, receives the whole person of a penitent sinner into his favour, forgiving both original and actual sins in one instant; so that either none or all are forgiven: but though repentance be needful to humble a sinner, and to bring him to Christ, yet no sins are forgiven on account of this repentance, but through faith alone in the blood of Christ. This fountain washes away the guilt of all sins, though ever so numerous and heinous; for it is written, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John 1. 7.
Show pity, Lord, O Lord, forgive,
Let e repenting rebel live;
Are not thy mercies large and free?
May not a sinner trust in thee?.
My crimes are great, but don't surpass
The pow'r and glory of thy grace;
Great God, thy nature has no bounds
So let thy pard'ning love be found.
My lips with shame my sins confess,
Against thy law, against thy grace;
Lord, should thy judgment grow severe.
I am condem'd, but thou art clear.
Shouls sudden vengeance seize my breath,
I must pronounce thee just in death;
And if my soul were sent to hell,
Thy righteous law approves it well.
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work uncleanness with greediness. Ephesians 4. 18, 19.
If a man be naturally dead, bring a candle into a room he sees it not; let the sun shine in his face,he perceives not the beauty, nor feels the warmth thereof, offer him rich presents, he receives them not; he hath no eye to see them, no heart to desire them, no hand reach out to them. Thus it is with one that is spiritually dead; let the sunshine of the gospel blaze out ever so clear; he sees it not, because he is in darkness; though he lived under plentiful means and dispensations, yet he is blind and sottish: offer unto him the rich pearls of the gospel, those rich treasures of the grace of Jesus Christ, yet he hath no heart to them, no hand of faith to lay hold upon them; so blind, so sottish, so stupid and senseless is he, that though these rich treasures, these graces, these pearls of the gospel, be conveyed unto him in earthen vessels, in a plain and familiar manner, yet he doth not, he cannot apprehend them; judgments do not affright him and mercies cannot allure or persuade him; yet this creature is all life in the element of sin; he loves it, he pleads for it, he commits it with greediness. This is St. Paul's account of the unconverted Gentiles and how many such have we under a Christian name! O Lord, exert thy great power, quicken all that are thus dead in trespasses and sins; turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to thine own self. Amen.
A carnal soul is blind within,
And has no want of Jesus' grace;
He feels and fears no harm in sin,
And turns from God his haughty face.
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait. Psalm 130. 5.
God's Answer: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings of eagles: they shall run, and not be weary: and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40. 31. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. Lamentations 3. 25.
When we have prayed, we must remember to wait also; for this is well pleasing to the Lord, and expressly commanded by him. The more we wait, and keep instant in prayer, so much more will he give; nay, he always hears and grants our supplication diractly, and lays them up for his children; but that we may not abuse them, he gives the enjoyment only when it is most needful; therefore we may confidently say, such and such gifts I shall have, since I have prayed for them; they are actually laid up for me; and the use and benefit thereof I shall reap in due season, especially in death and in eternity.
My spirit looks to God alone,
My rock and refuge in his throne
In all my fears, in all my straits,
My soul on his salvation waits.
Trust him, ye saints, in all your ways,
Pour out your hearts before his face;
When helpers fail and foes invade,
God is our all-sufficient aid.
For sovereign power reigns not alone
Grace is a partner of his throne;
Thy grace and justice, mighty Lord,
Shall divide our last reward.
In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94. 19. See also 2 Corinthians 1. 3-5.
A contented man, without afflictions, is ready to place his trust, and seek his comforts, in temporal things. Earthly desires crowd upon him, filling his soul with vanity, and he cannot well taste the sweet comforts of God's word, but under the burden of the cross. Here we often enjoy more solid rest than if we were without a cross, and then that word is fulfilled which Christ says, Matthew 11. 30: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Thus our hearts are set against the world, reconciled to heavenly things, and easily separated from many idols which we could not resist or forsake before. Well, then, may we bearthese salutary burdens, which, when sanctified, will produce present comfort, and soon issue in eternal rest and glory. And since the Lord has promised to give strength sufficient for the day, that we may not be tempted above measure, there is abundant reason again to say that his burden is light indeed.
'Tis good for me to wear the yoke,
For pride is apt to rise and swell;
'Tis good to bear my Father's stroke,
That I might learn his statutes well.
Father, I bless thy gentle hand;
How kind is thy chastising rod,
That force my conscience to a stand,
And brought my wand'ring soul to God.