Daily Devotions for July.
Alleluia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Revelations 19. 6.
God is the Lord of hosts, he is the great commander of heaven and earth; he it is that directs all conflicts in war; no field is pitched, no battle fought, but by his special order and commission, and all the accomplishment of his glory. but it befalleth us as it doth them who stand in the same level wherein two great armies are ready to engage; they conceive them to be a disordered multitude; whom, notwithstanding, if they beheld from a high hill, they would discern that they are artificially ranged, and every one serving under his own colours, Even so men who behold the state of the world with the eyes of flesh and blood, dim by reason of the corruption of their judgments and weakness of their affections, think all things are out of order; they see servants riding on horses, and princes going on foot; that the worse men are, the better they fare; and they fare the worse, the better they are: but if they would go into God's sanctuary, and judge of the occurrences by heavenly principles, then they would confess that no army on earth can be better marshalled than the great army of all the creatures of heaven and earth, yea, and of hell too; and that, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary, all is well, and will end well, especially to God's people; and that the God of order will bring light out of darkness, and order out of the greatest confusion, could they but have patience and let him alone with his own work.
The Lord God omnipotent reigns,
Commanding whatever he will;
And rebels, that scoff at his word,
Are under his government still.
Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me. Psalm 118. 13. Preserved in Jesus Christ, and called. Jude 1.
Jesus was in council, undertook our cause, struck hands in the covenant as our Surety, wrought out a righteousness for us; suffered our curse on the tree to redeem us; ever lives, and ever loves, and ever pleads our cause; while he represents our persons before the everlastingly gracious and infinitely just and righteous Jehovah, his Father and our Father, now well pleased with us, and accepted and preserved in the Beloved. Are these things so? And has the Lord the Spirit, the glorifier of Jesus, enlightened our understandings to see these things, enabled us to believe, and assured our hearts of our own happy share and interest in them? O my soul,stop, reflect, dwell on such wonderful power, marvellous favour, distinguishing love, and appropriated mercy. Now let all mine enemies exert their utmost power, I will not be afraid. Afflictions, pains, temptations, may await me, waves and storms may go over my head, Satan may sift me as wheat, the waters of death may prove bitter to my taste, yet I will not be discouraged; He that died for me will take care of me; He that pardon my aggravated offences will heal my infirmities; He that knew the power of temptation will support and deliver me out of all. This I believe; Lord, help my unbelief.
The wisdom, the power, the love, the promise, the covenant, and the oath of Jehovah, stand all engaged for the preservation of a poor, unworthy believer in Jesus. Alleluia!
Why should I fear, though mighty foes
Thrust at me ev'ry day?
The Lord, who offers me his help,
Is stronger much than they.
Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11. 29. Be clothed in humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5. 5, 6.
Such as are haughty and self-conceited rush against the mighty hand of God, and destroy themselves; but those that are humble under it will be protected by the same. Whatever knowledge or skill we obtain in the schools of human learning, the Scripture does not yet allow us to be truly wise; but calls us blind and merely worldly students; till we learn to be poor in spirit, lowly in heart, and dead to the world. Proverbs 11. 2; 1 Corinthians 1. and 2. Therefore, the more a man dies to the world, the more he is enlightened.
Lord, if thou by grace impart,
Poor in spirit, meek in heart,
I shall as my Master be,
Rooted in humility.
Simple, teachable, and mild;
Changed into a little child,
Pleased with all the Lord provides,
Wean'd from all the world besides.
Father, fix my soul on thee,
Every evil let me flee;
Nothing want beneath, above,
Happy in thy precious love.
And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. Genesis 32. 1.
As Jacob was favoured with a heavenly vision when he first departed from his father's house, so the Divine Being thought proper to again to favour him with the same token of his protection on his return thither, in order to encourage him to meet with confidence those dangers he had to encounter. Hence we may observe, that when God designs his people for extraordinary trials, he prepares them by extraordinary comforts. We should think it had been more reasonable for these angels to have appeared to him just in the heat of his engagement, either with Laban before, or Esau after, than in this calm and quiet interval, when he saw not himself in any imminent peril. But God will have us, when we are in peace, to provide for trouble; and when trouble comes, draw comfort and encouragement from former experiences; knowing assuredly that He who has delivered in six troubles will also deliver in seven, and in due time out of all. This may be a representation of God's people at death, who are then returning to Canaan, to their Heavenly Father's house; and then the angels of God will meet them, to congratulate the happy finishing of their labours, and carry them to their everlasting rest.
May Jesus guide me on my way,
And guard from threat'ning woes;
His presence turns my night to day,
And disconcerts my foes.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned Matthew 12. 37.
The general turn of a man's discourse will clearly discover the bent of his mind; for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Other outward marks may be imitated; but not to offend in tongue, to be free from dtraction and boasting, to speak the truth in love, to "no corrupt communication (nothing contrary to peace or holiness) proceed out of the mouth;" this is the finger of God. Here the hypocrite and formalist always fail. Let us earnestly pray for grace to bridle the tongue. "O Lord, set a watch before my mouth, keep the door of my lips," that I may never bring a reproach upon my profession by speaking proud, false, foolish, or censorious words.
The tongue, that most unruly power,
Requires a strong restraint;
We must be watchful every hour,
And pray, but never faint.
Lord, ca a feeble, helpless worm
Peform a task so hard?
Thy grace must all the work perform,
And give the free reward.
Loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say aught unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them: and straightway he will send them Matthew 21. 2,3. The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax thaT was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. Judges 15.14.
Thus the Spirit of the Lord makes us free from all spiritual bonds; for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 2 Corithians 3. 17. Though I was torn from Christ by the enemy, yet as a robberhe gets no right to me. Christ does not give up, for this reason, his right which he has to me on so many accounts; and as soon as I am willing by his grace to give up myself to him, and desire to be delivered from the power of Satan, he vindicates and saves me as his property; I am his, Satan loses his hold, and nothing in the world can withhold me from him. All fettersmust fall off.
What though the hosts of death and hell
All arm'd against me stood?,
Terrors no more shall shake my soul;
My refuge is my God.
Arise, O Lord, fulfil thy grace,
While I thy glory sing;
My God has broken the serpent's teeth,
And death hath lost its sting.
Salvation to the Lord belongs,
His arm alone can save;
Blessings attend thy people here,
And reach beyond the grave.
Make you a new heart and a new spirit. Ezekiel 18. 31 See 2 Corinthians 5. 17-21.
Many are converted, but not entirely, to Christ and from their own righteousness, so as to be truly sensible of their abominable wickedness, and earnestly to flee to Chrsit for reconciliation and righteousness; and therefore they never seek Jesus to make the new heart and new spirit, but continue on, in their mere outward moral state, year after year. O Lord, let me daily receive a word from thee, to nourish and strengthen my soul, so as to be renewed daily by it more and more.
Oh for a heart to love my God,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that always feels the blood
So freely shed for me!
A heart resign'd, submissive, meek,,
My dear Redeemer's throne;
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.
A lowly and believing heart,
Abhorring self and sin;
A constant heart, which nought can part
From Christ, who dwells within.
A child-like heart, that cries for food,
And pines for Divine love;
An upright heart, by grace renew'd;
A copy, Lord, of thine.
Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things. Luke 10. 41.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4. 23.
As the virtue of a strong spirituous liquor evporates by degrees in a vial which is not properly stopped, in like manner the life and power of the Spirit insensibly vanish away if the heart is not kept with all diligence. Of the former remains only water; of the latter, nothing but the form of religion, or perhaps some false principles and errors crept in. Therefore many must be tried and sifted, that they may know, like Hezekiah, what is in their hearts; 2 Chronicles 32. 31: consequently, what more needful than to take heed to our own spirits, and to keep close to the written word? for as the latter times draw nearer, the more plausible will errors and seducements appear, both on your right hand and on your left. Beware of being drawn off from the truth, either by the worldly prudence of half-hearted professors, or by pretences to merit in the self-righteous Pharisee.
O Lord, permit me not to be
A stranger to myself and to thee;
Amidst a thousand thoughts I rove,
Forgetful of my highest love.
Call me away from flesh and sense,
One sov'reign word can draw me thence;
I would obey the voice Divine,
And all inferior joys resign.
Be earth and all her scenes withdrawn,
Let noise and vanity be gone;
In secret silence of the mind,
My heav'n and there my God, I find.
My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Psalm 143. 6. Let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelations 22. 17. If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7. 37, 38.
When thou art dry and barren, examine thyself closely what may be the cause; ask pardon for all known offences, and take care to amend them. And though thou shouldest not find anything particular, yet humble thyself deeply before the Lord; but at the same time remember that thou art accepted, beloved, justified, and blessed in Christ; and in this disposition quietly wait the returns of some new drops of living water and grace; but be also sure afterwards to cherish and make right use of them. Thus thou shalt be like a watered garden. Isaiah 58. 11.
For thee I thirst, O Lord, I mourn;
When will thy smiling face return?
Shall all my joy on earth remove,
And God for ever hide his love?.
Ho! ye that pant for living streams,
And pine away and die,
Here you may quench your raging thirst
With springs that never die.
Rivers of love and mercy here
In a rich ocean join;
Salvation in abundance flows,
Like floods of milk and wine.
My soul waiteth upon God; form him cometh salvation. He only is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. Therefore, trust in him at all times, ye people, pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62. 1, 2, 8.
The more patient, believing, and single-eyed we are, the sooner we shall see the salvation and victory of the Lord. Double-minded souls have the greatest struggle; and the slothful must tarry longer. Sometimes, it is true, though we are faithful, yet we must cry out, "O Lord, how long?" Psalm 6. 3. But, nevertheless, he always hears and delivers us, though we do not see or feel it directly, but seem to suffer continually. In heaven we shall certainly see it, and reap the blessed fruits of all our afflictions and prayers.
Almighty God of truth and love
In me thy power exert;
The mountain from my soul remove,
The hardness of my heart.
From thee that I no more depart,
Nor more thy goodness grieve,
The filial awe, the fleshy heart,
The tender conscience give.
Quick as the apple of an eye,
O God, my conscience make;
Awake my soul when sin is nigh,
And keep it still awake.
I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. Psalm 37. 25.
Sweet declaration! encouraging experience! The Lord indeed careth for the righeous - for those who, having seen the want of mercy, rely for it on the promise of God, that there is forgiveness with him through the meritorious life and death of Jesus Christ. He hath promised that he will never leave or forsake them - that he will withhold from them no manner of thing that is good. He careth also for their seed; so that they shall not beg their bread. He frequently provides for them, when their parents are no more, in such unexpected ways that many who see it are constrained to acknowledge "This is the Lord's doing." And sometimes, while they are living, he brings bread to their mouths, and also furnishes them with opportunities to hear of and seek for the bread which came down from heaven, and which endureth unto everlasting life; thus snatching them from the jaws of ignorance and destruction. O Lord, if mine ears have heard - if mine eyes have see - and more especially if I partake of such blessings, thankfully may I own that thou art a God keeping covenant and mercy, and make this proff of thy faithfulness a ground of reliance upon thee for all needful promised blessings. Help me to cast all my care on thee, and endeavour by prayer, instruction, and example, that thy goodness may be sanctified to my seed, that we may live together, here and hereafter, to the praise of the glory of thy grace.
The Lord, for his own mercy's sake,
Will bless believers and their seed;
The parents he will not forsake,
Nor let the children beg their bread.
Strengthen with all might, according to his glorious power. Colossians 1. 11.
O my soul, what encouraging words are these! How full of meaning The Lord our righteousness is the Lord our strength. He is near at hand, to stregthen according to thy need. Not in one or two respects, but with all might, with a supply suited to every various occasion, and that to the utmost, answerable to what may be expected from the exertion of "his own glorious power." Happy state of the believer in Jesus! though feeble in himself, surrounded with enemies, and exercised with a continual warfare, he shall not be overpowered; for the promise and the arm of God are on his side. The Lord who can do what he pleaseth, is in alliance, yea, in covenant with a believer; and, therefore, he shall be made more than a conqueror through Christ who has loved him.
Let me but hear my Saviour say,
"Strength shal 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.
My beloved is mine, and I am his. Canticles 2. 6.
Divine Answer: I will betroth thee unto me in righteous ness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betrth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord. Hosea 2. 19, 20.
By faith in the blood of Christ, we are accepted, and closely united to him as our Bridegroom. By that we daily eat his flesh, and drink his blood, and are sprinkled all over: the need there is of a daily sprinling, that our persons and services may be accepted; since the best of our works, our prayers and praises, our duties and graces, are all unclean till washed in the blood of Jesus. This appears from Hebrews 9. 19-21.; where it is said that all the vessels of the ministry, and even the book, were sprinkled.
Hark! the Redeemer from on high
Sweetly invites his fav'rites nigh;
From caves of darkness and of doubt,
He gently calls, and calls us out.
"My sister and my spouse," he cries,
"Bound to my heart by various ties;
Thy powerful love my heart detains
In strong delight, and pleasing chains.".
Dear Lord, our thankful heart receives
The hope thy invitation gives;
To thee our joyful lips shall raise
The voice of prayer, the voice of praise.
I am my Love's and he is mine;
Our hearts, our hopes, our passions join;
Nor let a motion, nor a word,
Nor thoughts arise, to grieve my Lord.
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Psalm 27. 8. I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts. Psalm Psalm 119. 94.
Divine Answer:Those that seek me early shall find me. Proverbs 8. 17. The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God. Psalm 69. 32. Seek, and ye shall find. Matthew 7. 7. For whoso findeth me findeth life. Proverbs 8. 35. I am the life. John 14. 6.
Such arguments and entreaties we may use with God, to strengthen us in faith: he does not want them, but we do; and he is well pleased when we take him at his word. For if we would not draw near to God in prayer till our heart s are quickened, perhaps we might never come to it. Therefore, we must no indulge ourselves in a state of dulness, but rather put a force to ourselves, and pray against our natural inclination. Being faithful and instant in this, we shall certainly have our affections warmed, and great power and blessings given from above, that our hearts may live. O Lord, I plead thy precious promises; and thou canst not deny thy word. Thou hast laid thyselfunder obligation to help a feeble, praying soul. Then let thy Holy Spirit abide with me to quicken my soul when fainting, and to rule my heart in all things, that no sin may have dominion over me.
Lord, I address thy heavenly throne,
Call me a child of thine;
Send down the Spirit of thy Son
To form my heart divine.
There shed thy choicest love abroad,
And make my comforts strong;
Then shall I say, My Father God,
With an unwav'ring tongue.
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.
O my God, I trust in thee; let me not be ashamed. Psalm 25. 2. In thee, O Lord, do I hope; thou wilt hear, O Lord, my God. Psalm 38. 15. Let none that wait on thee be ashamed. Psalm 25. 3.
Divine Answer: Hope maketh not ashamed. Romans 5. 5. They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which abideth for ever. Psalm125. 1. Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Hebrews 2. 3. Thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. Isaiah 49. 23.
Does God delay his promises, and the enemy raise a suspicion against his faithfulness? Remember it is said, "Pray and wait." Thou art still alive, and shall be a witness to God's faithfulness. If he was not faithful and true, he could not be God. His faithfulness is eternal, and as sure and as great as himself; above all our thoughts. Thou shalt at the last the more gloriously experience it, and not be ashamed: heaven and earth shall pass away, but his word shall not fail, because he "keepeth truth for ever." Psalm 146. 6.
Happy the man whose hopes rely
On Israel's God: he made the sky,
And earth, and seas, with all their train,
And none shall find his promise vain.
His truth for ever stands secure;
He saves th' oppress'd, he feeds the poor;
He sends the lab'ring conscience peace,
And grants the pris'ner sweet release.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12. 32.
This Christ spoke of his death. And it is the remembrance of his cruel death, of what he suffered, said, and finished, when he hung naked and wounded upon the cross, that relieves an afflicted conscience, and effectually captivates the sinner's heart to himself. The sharpest convictions, if not relieved by this sight, will never teach the heart of love. The strongest resolutions, unless made with this bleeding object in view, will melt away like snow: but a crucified Saviour is a powerful loadstone indeed; multitudes have been drawn by it from sin to holiness, from Satan to God, from earth to heaven.
Was it for crimes I have done,
He groan'd upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
But drops of grief can n'er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Lord, I would give myself away,
"Tis all that I can do.
Charity seeketh not her own, is not easily ptovoked, and never faileth. 1 Corinthians 13. 5, 8.
O my dear, heavenly Father, I desire to love thee and my neighbour with a pure heart fervently, and beg thou wouldst let me know and enjoy thy love in Christ, as the only means of producing this love in me. For how can my heart be cold, when resting at the cross of Christ, and feeling the virtue of his blood? Or how can it be hard, when lying in thy bosom, richly tasting thy grace, and sweetly experiencing thine everlasting love to me a vile, miserable sinner? O may a sense of thy love melt my hard heart into love, and change it thoroughly.
Had I tongues of Greeks and Jews,
And nobler speech than angels use,
If love be absent, I am found
Like tinkling brass, an empty sound.
Were I inspired to preach and tell
All that is done in heav' and hell;
Or could my faith the world remove,
Still I am nothing without love.
Should I distribute all my store
To feed the bowels of the poor;
Or give my body to the flame,
To gain a martyr's glorious name,--
If love to God and love to men
Be absent, all my hopes are vain;
Nor tongues, nor gifts, nor fiery zeal,
The work of love can e'er fulfil.
Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Psalm 25. 1.
Divine Answer: Thou hast heard the desire of the humble; thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear. Psalm 10. 17.
Faith only desires Christ, and does neither delight in the gain, nor grieve much at loss, the tempoarl things; but faith, through an earnest desire for Christ, and his word, rises above all creatures, and overcomes all worldly pleasures and fears. And this being the work of God, will certainly be accomplished; nay, is looked upon as really accomplished already in our desires and endeavours after it; in the same manner as evil desires are reckoned for deeds in the sight of God, though they never proceed to outward acts.
I cannot bear thine absence, Lord
My life expires, if thou depart
Be thou, my heart, still near my God
And thou, my God, be near my heart.
I was not born for earth and sin,
Nor can I live on things so vile;
Yet will I stay my Father's time,
And hope and wait for heaven awhile.
Then, dearest Lord, in thine embrace
Let me resign my fleeting breath,
And, with a smile upon my face,
Pass the important hour of death.
Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. O Lord, thou pleadest the cause of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life. Lamentations 3. 57, 58. Fear not, for I am with thee. Isaiah 43. 5. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore; and have the keys of hell and of death. Revelations 1. 18.
Christ has overcome, led captivity captive, and, by one offering, perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Hebrews 10. 14. Whoever leaves this world believing in him, being perfected already, has nothing to fear after death. O my heavenly Father, dispose me to seek diligently after holiness; and though the work of sanctification will be imperfect in this life, which should humble me much, yet let it cause no fear of death, nor disturb my confidence in thee, since my salvation and my confidence do not depend on perfect holiness here, but on my being in Christ and adopted through him; which adoption the weakest child hath,as well as the strongest, though both are not equally sensible of it. For every true believer, whether weak or strong, hath eternal life, and shall not fall into condemnation. If, therefore, I am a child of God, though a weak one, I am still an heir, and shall find life and deliverance in death:
I am Alpha, says the Saviour,
I Omega likewise am;
I was dead, and live for ever,
God Almighty and the Lamb.
In the Lord is our perfection,
And in him our boast we'll make
We shall share his reurrection,
If we of his death partake.
And he gave him a sign, but Hexekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up. 2 Chronicles 32. 24, 25.
Ahaz, trusting in the Assyrians for help, had refused a sign graciously offered by God as a token of deliverance. He did not choose to put his whole trust in God, though his pretence was he would not tempt the Lord. This might lead his son Hezekiah to ask for a sign; and it proved a snare to him. The king of Babylon, on finding Hezekiah so highly honoured by the sun, thought it incimbent upon him to send ambassadore with letters and a present to such a favourite of the god of the Babylonians. Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and sought craftily to avail himself of this false notion of the king of Babylon, and, by not affronting their god, he hoped to gain a safe protection against the king of Assyria, Isaiah was ordered to acquaint him that, as he preferred an arm of flesh to his Almighty deliverer, he should experience the sad effect of his folly in not honouring God; and all that he had so vainly showed should be carried to Babylon. Hezekiah ought to have testified to the ambassadors that the Lord God of Israel, stopped the sun in its progress. He had here a fait opportunity of showing them and their king the vanity of idolatry in worshipping the sun, eveidently under the direction of a superior Being. He ought also to have given God all the glory in this matter, and have rested in him, and him alone, for safety, who had just then given him such a striking proof of his power and favour. Worldly wisdom is arrant folly; and, when set in opposition to the will of God, will be sure to disappoint us. Even the noblest instance of wisdom and love God evrer showed in the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ, if not accepted with humility and simplicity in God's own way by faith, will not have its blessed effect. Worldly wisdom ensnared Hezekiah; and carnal wisdom, ever attended with loftiness of heart, is daily destroying its thousands.
From worldly wisdom save me, Lord,,
Though men may prudence call it
My heart be anchor'd on thy word
Whatever storms befall it.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed! Amos 3. 3.
The Twenty First of July.
Reader, I suppose thee a religious person, one that has been converted by the power of grace; one that is desirous to glorify God in life and conversation; one that has an interst in Jesus, and wants to have it made more manifest to thine own self every day; one that considers this life as a passage to a better, and would be glad of a spiritual companion to go along with thee, for "two are better than one." Give not the right hand of fellowship to any before thou hast tried him; for two cannot walk comfortably together except they are agreed; bring him to the law of God -- the eternal moral law of God, contained in the ten commandments -- and ask him, does he look upon that law of God as the rule of his life? If he denies it, avoid him. If he says he is not under the commanding power of it, turn away from him. But if he says that he sincerely takes it as God's revealed wil to him, owning the authority thereof over his conscience and conversation, "Thus saith the Lord" breathing after universal obedience, repenting and mourning where he falls short, and fleeing by faith to Christ for all peace and pardon, -- take such a one for a friend and companion.
Lord, draw my wand'ring heart to thee,
And reconcile it to thy word;
Then will it well with God agree,
And find communion with its Lord.
My soul fainteth for thy salvation. My soul is continually in thy hand. Uphold me according to thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. Psalm 119. 81, 109, 116, 132.
O Lord, I love thy name also, since thou art called merciful, gracious, long suffering, and even the Lord our righteousness: and therefore I depend upon nothing of my own, but throw myself entirely upon thy free grace and righteousness, which alone keeps me in peace. Without thee I am ignorant and weak; and Satan, being as wicked as he is cunning, what would become of me if I was not kept and preserved by thee? Thy name is a strong tower, and righteous enter there, and are safe: there let me abide also continually, so shall I be safe from every adversary.
The arms of everlasting Love
Beneath my soul be placed;
And the Rock of Ages set
My slipp'ry footsteps fast.
The city of my blest abode
Is wall'd around with grace
Sakvation for a bulwark stands,
To shield the sacred place.
Satan may vent his sharpest spite,
And all his legions roar;
Almighty mercy guards my life,
And bounds his raging power.
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory. Psalm 115. 1.
The Twenty Third of July.
How little reason have we in anything of our own, since nothing but sin is ours, which even defiles that which is of God!
O Lord, grant that I may always give thee the praise of thy own, and may learn to delight and glory in thee, having no other aim but to walk before thee in godly simplicity and sinserity; for he that walketh uprightly walketh surely, Proverbs 10. 9. All disquiet of mind ariseth from our own lusts and umortified tempers, which make the bosom like a troubled sea. and no settled calm shall we find till we have a single eye to God's glory, and can count ourselves worthy of no good. Then we may draw comfort out of trouble, and learn to praise the Lord, both for what he giveth and for what he taketh away; being sure that all things are working together for good, and tending to God's glory, which he knows best how to promote, and that nothing but sin can make us unhappy and miserable.
Great God, how infinite art thou
What worthless worms we are!
Let the whole race of creatures bow,
And pay their praise to thee.
Our lives through various scenes are drawn,
And vex'd with trifling cares;
While thine eternal thought moves on
Thine undisturb'd affairs.
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Romans 8. 33, 34.
There is a story, how the devil appeared to a dying man, and showed him a parchment roll, which was very long, and wherein were written on every side the sins of the poor sick man, which were many in number; and there were also written the idle words he had spoken in his life, together with the false words, the unchaste words, and angry words; afterwards came his vain and ungodly words; and lastly, his actions, digested according to the commandments. Whereupon Satan said, See here, behold thy virtues! see here what thy examination must be! -- Whereupon the poor sinner answered, It is true, but thou hast not set down all; for thou shouldst have added and set down here below, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin;" and this also should not have been forgotten, that "whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Whereupon the devil vanished. Thus if the devil should muster up our sins, and set them in oreder before us, let but Christ be named in a faithful way, and he will give back, and fly away with all speed.
My sins are great, I do confess,
And of a scarlet dye;
But Jesus' blood can wash me clean,
As God does testify.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory. 2 Corinthians 3. 18. Therefore, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philipians 2. 5. Leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps. 1 Peter 2. 21.
The Twenty Fifth of July.
If, before we say or do anything, we would always consider whether it was agreeable to the pattern of Christ, a multitude of sins would be avoided. O Lord, however guilty and miserable I am, yet when I can humble myself before thee as the vilest of sinners, and look unto thee by faith, depending only upon thy free grace, I enjoy peace. Grant, therefore, O my God, that this beholding of thee by my constant execise, and that by this means I may be strengthened cheerfully to follow thy pattern, and be daily changed into the glorious image of thy love, patience, and humility, and thus be ripening for eternal life.
My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
I read my duty in thy word;
But in thy life the law appears
Drawn out in living characters.
Such was thy truth, and such thy zeal
Such deference to thy Father's will,
Such love, and meekness so Divine,
I would transcribe, and make them mine.
Be thou my pattern, make me bear
More thy gracious image here;
Then God, the Judge, shall own name
Among the followers of the Lamb.
He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth ruin on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5. 45.
Many serious people are very ready to give alms to the pious part of the their poor brethren, but are afraid of relieving a common beggar; and it must be owned that, as riches are a talent from God, they who have them must be in the distribution of them; The religious poor have the best claim, but others ought not be entirely overlooked, as is plain from the conduct of God himself, for "he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good." Only common healthy beggars are forbidden alms; concerning whom God says, "If they will not work, neither shall they eat," 2 Thessalonians 3. 10. It may be said, They will make an ill use of your bounty: but what then? Is not this very goodness to be recommended to us in Scripture, by the imitating of which we may show ourselves to be "the children of our Father which is in heaven, who sendeth rain on the just and the unjust?" Shall I withhold a little money or food from my fellow creatures for fear he should not be good enough to receive it from me? D I beg of God to deal with me, not according to my merit, but according to his own goodness; and shall I be so absurd as to withhold my charity from a poor fellow creature, because he may not perhaps deserve it? Shall I use a measure toward him which I pray God never to use towards me? Lazarus was a common beggar; and yet he was the care of the angels, and carried into Abraham's bosom. "I was a stranger, and he took me in," saith our blessed Saviour; but who can perform his duty, that will not relieve persons who are unknown to them? "As we have therefore the opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
Lord, give me faith which works by love,
And will good works command;
Which makes a neighbour's grief my own,
And lends a helping hand.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me. Psalm 23. 4. See also Exodus 14., of the deliverance of the Israelites, and the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea.
To rejoice in the light of God's countenance is certainly most pleasant, but not always so profitable, to every one, as sometimes to walk in the dark, nay, in the valley of the shadow of death. Some are more humble and cautious while walking in the dark than in the light; and glimpses of grace are then exceeding precious; but such should consider for their humiliation, that darkness or deadness are commonly the effects of a wrong spirit and careless walk. O Lord, grant that when I am deprived of sensible comforts I may yet be enabled to rely upon thy bare word, and in death may be refreshed by the light of thy countenance. Amen. Yea; thou hast declared, that "the righteous hath hope in his death," Proverbs 14. 32.
The Twenty Seventh of July.
Death cannot make our souls afraid,
If God be with us there;
We walk through his darkest shade,
And never yield to fear.
May I climb to pisgah's top,
And view the promised land,
My flesh itself shall long to drop,
And pray for the command.
Clasp'd in my heav'nly Father's arms,
I shall forget my breath,
And lose my life among the charms
Of so divine a death.
Hear, ye children, the instructions of a father, and attend to know understanding. Proverbs 4. 1. We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. John 3. 11. Bloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God. 1 John 4. 1.
Reader, whoever thou art, that comest to this book for instruction and edification, let the following monitions, the result of long experience and observation, be acceptable unto thee: they are designed for thy spiritual good, will warn thee against errors, and, if complied with, will give thee a true relish of gospel peace and redeeming love. Let the life thou now livest in the flesh be by faith in the Son of God. Labour after a constant soul-reviving fellowship with the Father and the son, through the Holy Spirit. Watch over thy passions, conduct, and conversation, so as that the Spirit of the Lord be not grieved, nor his comfortable influences withdrawn from thy soul. Be ready to every good work, as thou hast ability and opportunity; and take special care thy good be not evil spoken of through the manner of thy performing it. Let no external services whatever, either respecting thyself or others, make thee neglect a constant watchfulness over the inward motions of thine own heart. Let the written word of God be thine invariable rule, both in principle and practice. Whatever persuasion advanceth not the Redeemer's honour, and tendeth not to magnify his grace, work, and salvation, be sure cometh of Him who calleth us. Be very earnest after meekness, humility, patience, self-denial, inward holiness, and all other graces of the Spirit; these carry their own evidence that they are wrought of God, and in their blessed effects will remain with thee for evermore.
"My son, if thine heart be wise, and experienced in these things, my heart shall rejoice, even mine."
Lord, fill my heart with love and joy,
And fill it with thy precious peace;
So will my tongue find sweet employ,
And bless the Lord my righteousness.
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Psalm 119. 18. Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. Psalm 13. 3. For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light shall we see light. Psalm 36. 9.
The Twenty Ninth of July.
Divine Answer: I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. John 12. 46. The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind. Psalm 146. 8.
Many imagine their eyes are opened, and that they have clear notions of religion in their heads; but they see just like Eve after eating the forbidden fruit; their hearts being corrupted, are destitute of Christian simplicity and godly sincerity; for he does not understand the word of God by the light of the Holy Spirit, through prayer and faith, but only by his natural reason, is certainly blind, Revelations 3. 17; and one devilish and plausible temptation to error and sin is enough to break the strongest chain of human reasoning, for it is only faith that gets the victory. 1 John 5. 4.
The soul enlighten'd from above
with joy receive the word;
They see what wisdom, power, and love
Shine in their dying Lord.
The vital savour of his name
restores their fainting breath;
But unbelief perverts the same
Th guilt, despair, and death.
Till God diffuse his graces down,
Like showers of heavenly rain,
In vain Apollos sows the ground,
And Paul may plant in vain.
Without me ye can do nothing; therefore,Abide in me. John 15. 4, 5.
I can no more do without thee, O my dear Saviour, than the branch can do without the vine. Keep me, therefore, always in thee, else I shall have recourse to my old fancied stock of grace, though I have been a thousand times convinced of its insufficiency. May I never be left in the least thing to my own strength, but be directed, assisted, and blessed by thee in all my doings; for as far as I trust to myself, I am distrustful of thee, and consequently weak; and, on the other hand, the more I distrust myself, the mor I trust thee, and shall be strengthened and blessed.
Son of God, thy blessing grant,
Still supply my every want;
Tree of life, thine influence shed,
With thy sap my spirit feed.
Tend'rest branch, alas! am I;
Wither without thee and die;
Weak as helpless infancy:
Oh confirm my soul in thee.
Unsustain'd by thee, I fall;
Send the strength for which I call;
Weaker than a bruised reed,
Help I every moment need.
All my hopes on thee depend,
Love me, save me to the end
Give me thy continuing grace,
Take the everlasting praise.
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most high: and call unto me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his conversation aright I will show the salvation of God. Psalm 50. 14, 15, 23. See also Isaiah 25. 9.
Nothing moves God more to hear us than the glorifying him by faith with thanksgiving, and keeping up a childlike confidence in him, as our reconciled Father in Christ: and nothing quickeneth faith more than the sure promises of answering our prayers. Thus God will certainly hear and deliver us, since all his ways are only designed to strengthen us in faith, and save our souls. What need we then to be afraid in times of trouble? Ought we not rather to draw near to God in prayer and thanksgiving, and glorify him even beforehand, confidently believing that we shall certainly meet with new deliverances and quickenings of faith?
The Thirty First of July.
To what a stubborn frame
Has sin reduced our mind;
What strange, ungrateful wretches we,
And God as strangely kind.
Turn, turn us, mighty God,
And mould our souls afresh
Break, sov'reign grace, these hearts of stone,
And give us hearts of flesh.
Let old ingratitude,
Provoke our weeping eyes;
And hourly, as new mercies fall,
Let hourly thanks arise.