Tuesday, July 7, 2009


"I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness."
—Ps. xvii. 15.

When the morning of eternity breaks, I shall be satisfied.

My senses will. Just now, the eye is not content with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. But aggrandisement awaits my bodily powers. I have hints of it in thrilling moments here, when I catch visions to which others are blind, and listen to voices that summon me away. Are not these harbingers and foregleams of the ultimate dawn ? " My eyes will behold Christ. My ears will be filled with the melody of His tones.

My mind will share the benediction. God holds back from me truth that would be too high and mysterious meantime. He keeps the best cup for the day when I shall quaff it with Jesus in His Kingdom. Hereafter I shall know even as also I am known—as clearly, unerringly, fully, as I myself lie open to my Lord's gaze. What an enlargement it will be for my intellect and thought!

And my memory will have her coronation. I shall drink no Water of Forgetfulness before entering God's Elysium. Still I will recall my sin and misery. But the remembrance will have lost its sting and poison, by reason of the glory that excelleth. The messages of memory will always be good and comfortable, because always she will dwell in the presence of Christ. Her perpetual study will be His salvation and His love.

My conscience, too, will enter into peace. It has been quieted since it saw Jesus bearing my sin in His own body on the Tree. It is growing under His tuition, I trust, in sensitiveness and delicacy and strength. But it is visited yet by alarms, and sometimes it is in dubiety as to its Master's command. Its last fear will vanish, its last problem will be solved, when it walks with the Lamb in white.

My will is certain to reap its ripest fruit. To-day there are fluctuations and disappointments in my believing life ; and, after I have been lifted from the dust to sit with princes, my will too often selects and does what is evil. It is waiting for its estate of perfection in heaven. There, of its own accord, it will forsake sin, and will serve Christ in His Temple. And that is better than "the shady city of palm trees " it lost so long ago.

My heart will be full. Even a Christian's heart has many unrealised yearnings, many broken aspirations. But when I come to the Father, when I see the person of my Saviour and have His endless companionship, when I find and keep my unforgotten dead—it is the heart's uttermost attained, and the heart's harbour made after the stormy sea.

When I awake. Lord Jesus Christ, I shall be satisfied if Thou bid me to some humble door among Thy many mansions. Some sheltering shade where sin and sorrow cease.

July 7 - 0 HAPPY SLAVE

"Doing the will of God from the heart."
—Eph. vi. 6.

So St. Paul wrote to the Christian slaves of Ephesus and the Asian towns near at hand ; and I know no better epitome of the career to which I am set apart.

Here is the continuous activity of my life. It is a doing. It is doing as distinct from thinking and dreaming and meditating. Not that 1 can dispense with these. I must live in secret, behind all my outward service and diligence. I must have my spaces for prayer, and for the study of the Scriptures, and for deliberate remembrance of the treasures I possess in my Lord. But from the hidden place I should come out to speak and labour ; and each hour should be fruitful, in the family, in the church, in the world. Doing it is, too, as distinguished from embracing God's will and acquiescing in it. At times the Father's will is disclosed to me in the shape of a cross to carry and a sorrow to bear. Then I must not be content to say, " I will lie still." I must ask help to glorify Him under the load and in the fires. Through my very pains I would have His Kingdom furthered.

Here, again, is the heavenly ownership of my life. I do not live to carry out my own will. There is plenty of selfishness in the world, and plenty of self-reliance also, which is a much better thing. But Another has assumed the reins of government over me, and I am bought with a price. Nor do I live to fulfil the will of others. I am their helper and minister and brother, so far as in me lies ; but I do not take my instructions from them, nor is it to them that I render my final account. I live to serve the will of God. What a simplicity His control gives my history !— through all my duties, secular and sacred, runs the golden thread, For His sake. What a glory it gives !—in my narrow place I am a fellow-worker with the Eternal King. And what a spur it gives ! —I must not disappoint Him ; He reckons on my fidelity, and He must receive it.

And here is the deep spring of my life. From the heart, or from the soul, I do God's will. My task is not a friction or a fatigue. It is a matter of willingness and spontaneity and affection. It is " not a sigh but a song." What prompts it ? A heart which has seen God in the face of the Good Shepherd, marred and wounded for my redemption. A heart which has been led from darkness into light and from death into life. A heart that clings daily to the divine power which has made it what it is, feeling and confessing that without its Lord it can do nothing. A heart ardent in its thanksgiving and devotion. For such a heart the will of God, however it may be expressed, is gracious as a friend's greeting and a child's caress.

Yes, happy, happy slave ! Mine be his bonds, his subjection, his Master.


"Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel."
—Josh. i. 2.

In Canaan the Israelites had a home after homelessness. The insecure and perilous tent-life was past ; they could sit every man under his own vine and his own fig-tree. And when I believe in Christ, I leave the wilderness for the Father's house, where I have all and abound. Here is truth which is inexhaustible. Here is righteousness which pardons every sin and makes the chief of sinners just with God. Here is love whose breadth and length and depth and height are supreme and unutterable. This is the Holy Grail in my hands at length. This is the Land of Promise where my soul is at home.

In Canaan the Israelites passed from impotence to partnership with God. Out in the desert everything was done for them. By miracle their route was indicated, their wants were supplied, their march was shielded. But in the fields across the Jordan, while God remained essential, much more was entrusted to the people themselves. " O to grace how great a debtor I "—it is my humble and adoring psalm to the Lord Whose right arm alone rescues me from bondage and leads me into the inheritance. But, inside the land, I have my part to play and my place to fill. There must be constant prayer. There must be habitual self-denial. There must be daily recollection of Christ. I am God's partner now.

In Canaan the Israelites were secluded from the world, and learned the meaning of separation. No more were they in the heart of the civilisation and idolatry of Egypt ; miles and miles of waterless sand divided them from their old abode. The geography of Palestine has its sermon for me. Positively it says : Dwell much with God, for He has many things to disclose to you, and He will only disclose them if you linger in His company. And negatively it says: Be prepared to curb and limit your fellowship with the world, that Christ's beauty and Christ's message may not be lost by your heart.

In Canaan the Israelites put on the soldier's armour as well as the dress of the scholar and the worshipper. In the wilderness, they had learned God's mind from the mouth of Moses, and, instructed by Aaron, they had brought His offerings to the tabernacle of the congregation ; but now they made the acquaintance of Joshua, " foremost captain of his time." I need Jesus the Prophet, and Jesus the Priest ; but I ought to follow Jesus, too, as Leader in the Holy War. Within me and without are Hittite, Perizzite, Jebusite. I must gird on my sword against them. I must aid my Joshua in His desperate strife. " It's no longer disputing, but out instantly all you can," wrote Oliver Cromwell in 1643.

The land is a good land and large ; let me be very certain that I understand and possess its wealth.


"The blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
—Heb. xii. 24.

It was poured out on the Cross. It lies now on the Mercy-Seat in the heavens. The eyes of God rest on it with satisfaction. In the ears of God it speaks better things than the blood of Abel, His martyred saint and servant of the old time.

For it speaks of love and not of hate. The world was young ; but in its youth it was stained with blood wrongfully and cruelly shed. It was wide ; but it was not wide enough for two brothers to dwell together in unity. Cam's sin conceived, and brought forth death. But the blood of sprinkling preaches the mystery of grace : God manifest in the flesh, and dying in the flesh out of the compassion He bears to me. Cain hated and slew the only brother whom he had ; Christ loved and gave Himself for the wanderer and the foe.

And it speaks of God's forgiveness and not of God's displeasure. Cain had missed the favour of the Lord before, and had been told that his offering of trailing leaves and golden fruits could not be accepted; and this was mournful enough. But now Abel's blood brought him God's anger and sentence ; and this was a thousand times worse. How different the tones are of the blood of Jesus ! It declares my redemption. It comes and says, Fear not \ And, since Christ has died, who is he that can condemn?

Of inward peace it speaks, too, and not of inward trouble. All the perfumes of Arabia could not sweeten the hand that had been dipped in Abel's blood ; all the multitudinous seas could not wash away its stain. On the face of Cain, Cardinal Newman says, " toil, care, and guilt their hues have set, and fixed their sternness there." But the better I understand the blood of sprinkling, the more is my fear allayed and my remorse overcome. I behold Jesus, and my sorrow and sighing flee away.

And it speaks of Paradise regained and not of Paradise lost. To Adam and Eve the blood of Abel was proof only too vivid and lurid that they were no longer dwellers in Eden. They had wandered far, they had fallen low, when this could happen. But Christ's blood gives me back the Eden I have forfeited. Does it not make the prodigal a child again? Does it not win for my soul God's fellowship here and God's heaven hereafter?

It speaks, moreover, with power and not with feebleness. Abel and Abel's blood did live in the Lord's remembrance. Yet the ruddy stream had no efficacy to cleanse away Abel's guilt. His own death could not charm his sins out of God's memory and hide them from God's view. It needs a better blood to do that—the blood of Him Whose day Abel greeted from afar. I pray my Judge to hear the blood of sprinkling as it begs mercy for me. " And then the Judge will be my Father and my Friend.


"And ye shall know that . . . I am the Lord your God,"
—Joel ii. 27.

Is it not a great thing to be sure of God? Spectres of the intellect haunt me, and perplexities of the heart; and I begin to question His existence and His grace. James Renwick, the martyr of twenty-six, wandered for a while in the labyrinth. Once, " being in the Fields and looking to the Mountains, he was so strongly assaulted with Temptations of Atheism that he said, ' If these were all devouring Furnaces of burning Brimstone, I should be content to go through them, if thereby I could be assured that there is a God.'" I can sympathise with him. Often, with me too, the clouds conceal the Sun.

Is it not a greater thing to be certain that God and I are in closest union? To hear Hun say to me, I am the Lord your God, and to respond to Him, My Lord and my God : this is heaven begun on earth; this is rest of conscience, and quietude of mind, and coronation of character, and the life that is life indeed. He with whom the King of kings links Himself in an alliance never to be dissolved is, sick or healthy, slave or free, the most enviable of men.

And how shall I attain the happy certitude?

There is the highroad of enfranchisement. In the Book of Exodus I read God's promise to bring out the children of Israel from under the burdens of the Egyptians ; and He adds, Ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. No stronger evidence of His being and His mercy can I imagine than His redemption of me, shackled, incarcerated, downtrodden. If He slays my Egyptian taskmasters, if in Christ He sets me free, I cannot question that He is and that He is my Friend.

There is the highroad of obedience. Walk in My statutes, God says to the Jews through the prophet Ezekiel, and hallow My Sabbaths, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God. In proportion as I am willing to do His will, so far as it is understood by me, I learn the doctrine, and my difficulties disappear, and the dawn has risen on my mind and soul. I realise that His commandments are not grievous, and that He Himself is Light and is Love.

And there is the highroad of rejuvenation. In these verses of Joel, I have the great promises of God to His erring children. Let them return to Him in penitence, and He would return to them. in most liberal bounty, and would pour on them His Spirit, and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. Most winsome cure of doubt ! I have wandered. I have wounded Him since He redeemed me. But let me confess my sin ; and He will come so near that all the shadows will flee.
By one or other of these roads I can travel from my troubles to His tranquillities and joys. Thus the sick man gains health, the prisoner liberty, the mourner a song.


" The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister."
—Matt. xx. 28.

Lord of all, Christ made Himself Vassal of all.

I cannot forget the unspeakable condescension in which His ministry began. The Son of Man came, with His own consent and of His own will, consciously and spontaneously. He had been a Monarch in heaven, and He was now a Subordinate on earth, misread by friends, pursued by enemies, and yet standing by choice and deed of His own in the lowly and menial sphere. Behind the miracle of His serving is the miracle of His stooping. He was the Eternal Son of the Father, and He emptied Himself.

I think, too, of the incomprehensible love which sustained His ministry. A holy intention, Jeremy Taylor says, is to my actions what the soul is to the body, what the fountain is to the river, what the root is to the tree, what the sun is to the world. It is in my intentions that I fall short, and the taint of self is apt to spoil my best deeds. But Jesus had no oblique thoughts about His own reputation. His one purpose was to please God and to bless men. He shows me a love without blemish and flaw.

And I remark the cheerful alacrity of His ministry. It is difficult for me not to flag sometimes. Hearts are stolid, and the outlook is discouraging. But when did Christ murmur ? when did He faint ? If a demoniac boy required Him at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration, He left the glorious hill for the boy's sake. If a dying robber asked to be remembered in the Kingdom, He forgot His own Cross to answer the penitent's cry. It was impossible to interrupt Him. He was willing-hearted always.

And then I notice the rich many-sidedness that marked His ministry. Sometimes it was the cure of a diseased body, sometimes the pardoning of a conscience-smitten spirit. It might be a look, or a touch, or a word ; a discourse in the synagogue, or a heart-to-heart interview with a single enquirer ; or a miracle of Godlike power and Godlike tenderness. It was gentle, and it was severe. I find it hard to be efficient in one department ; but this Workman is not ashamed in any department.

There is no ministry like His. Yet it is the pattern for mine, if I am His disciple. I, also, am to serve in the New Testament style and after the Christlike model. I have been brought into the family for this very end. Noblesse oblige; my rank constitutes my responsibility ; my high honours carry great obligations along with them. Ah ! but do not let me be spiritless and despairing. Christ is Power as well as Pattern. He goes before me ; but He dwells within me too. He is not only King among the choirs and societies of the angels in heaven ; He is King in the citadel of my soul. His life will create my life anew, till I am signed with His autograph and changed into His image.

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"But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou may cat be feared."
—Ps. cxxx. 4.

Forgiven, in order to fear : does it seem a poor and pitiful way of stating the issues of God's mercy ? Would I rather say : Forgiven, and therefore loving, rejoicing, praising, thanking the Forgiver with heart and voice and life ? But my version is not far removed from the Jewish Psalmist's; only mine is more meagre and less significant. The fear of which he speaks includes all that I mean by practical religion and godliness ; and the doctrine he teaches is that the grace of God in pardoning me makes me willing, through every one of my days, to follow behind His chariot wheels.

One thing I see is that His forgiveness throws my nature open to a world of blessed communications from Himself. Sin's separating wall of adamant is gone, and there is no barrier now. I can carry my needs to Him, and it is His royal and tender habit to hold converse with me ; He has inaugurated a communion which is to last as long as I live. But can I do anything else than adore and reverence and fear this ever-present Lord, Who is watching so sedulously over my obedience and my growth ?

Or I may express the truth in this fashion : since His forgiveness came, I have been free to serve Him. Until then, I was a debtor owing Him ten thousand talents, and I had not a farthing to pay. The mere thought of Him was a millstone crushing my spirit; and in that wintry time what heart had I to do His will ? But the shades of the prison-house lie behind me now. The incubus is lifted, the spectre banished. I cannot but dedicate myself to my Liberator absolutely and always.

Let me view it again : when He forgave me, He planted in my nature the strongest motives to fear. Worshipfulness was born in me then ; for I saw the holiness of Him Who had to purchase my freedom with a great price. Gratitude was stirred—a gratitude in which many graces are rooted and grounded, such as submission to His will, and the hatred of what He hates, and the hunger to glorify Him. Hope, too, awoke ; and since I shall see Him face to face soon, I must purify myself as He is pure.

First, forgiveness ; and then afterwards, and perpetually to the end, fear. But a reasonable and beautiful and seemly fear. The fear to lose one glance of the Father's love. The fear to miss one syllable of the Saviour's evangel of peace. The fear to forfeit one instant of the Spirit's presence, or one breath of His renewing power. The fear of drifting away on insidious currents of worldli- ness and sin from the haven of daily fellowship with my Lord. The fear of slumber. The fear of error. The fear of not enough pleasing Him Who, with His precious blood, has redeemed me to Himself.


"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden."
—Gen. ii. 8.

"God Almightie," says Lord Bacon, "first Planted a Garden; and it is the Purest of Humane pleasures." I pray that in my heart and life God Almighty may find a garden of His own planting, where He can talk with me in the cool of the day.

" I doe hold it," the essayist writes, " there ought to be Gardens for all the Moneths of the yeare;" and he travels from December to December, describing the growths of each season, till I can almost see the colours and feel the fragrance. Let my winter of adversity grow submissiveness and patience and prayer ; my spring of promise abound in hope ; my summer of attainment show the blossoms of thanksgiving and humility ; my autumn of fruit be dedicated to God's glory and praise.

" Nothing is more fit than to know what be the Flowers and Plants that doe best perfume the Aire "—violets, for instance, and musk-roses, and sweet-brier, and wall-flower, and pinks, and the three which, being trodden on and crushed, yield their odours, "Burnet, Wilde-Time, and Water-Mints." I would acquire skill in the horticulture of the heart, by keeping company with my Master's friends, by reading much in His Book, by communing with Himself, and by kissing His chastening rod.

" The Garden is best to be Square, incompassed, on all the Foure Sides, with a Stately Arched Hedge." And I must reverence God's hedges : the restraints of His providence, the monitions of His Word, the bounds imposed by an enlightened conscience, the forbiddings of the Holy Ghost. I must have no wish for the profane territory outside.

" For Fountaines, they are a great Beauty and Refreshment." But the main matter is " so to Convey the Water as it never Stay, either in the Bowles or in the Cesterne ; " for then it will be discoloured, or will gather mossiness and putrefaction. And if the garden of the soul is to maintain beauty and fragrance, must not the waters of my spiritual life be constantly renewed ? must I not return daily to the Weil-Head from which the living streams flow ever forth ?

In his garden Lord Bacon would have a "Heath, framed, as much as may be, to a Natural Wildernesse," where the flowers, low and sweet and sightly, are not set in precise and regular array. And there should be no primness in the garden of a regenerated life. The divine Husbandman does not desire me to be a martinet, a precisian, a Pharisee. May the Lord the Spirit fill me to overflowing, that my goodness may be spontaneous, enthusiastic, exuberant, not to be fettered and checked.

So I, too, shall have a Ver Perpetuum. I, too, even " when the Wind blows Sharpe," shall walk in peace and pleasantness; and in the garden God will talk with me.