Daily Devotions for October.
Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has prevailed. Revelations 5. 5. He rose triumphantly and destroyed the works of the devil: therefore sin shall not have dominion over us. Romans 6. 14.
Many complain that though they will not turn back, yet they have no power to advance further. If this should be thy case, my reader, remember that the enemy of souls will discourage thee. Go to praying, and venture it evermore upon the Lord. Consider how he awakened you at first, how he has heard your prayers afterwards, and asisted you in many hard struggles. Surely he will help you now also. If that will not do, begin as it were afresh; acknowledge yourself guilty in every respect; and, as the chief of sinners, plead for mercy, and be instant in your humble supplications; looking at the same time upon God as a reconciled Father through Christ, who is willing to receive you, pardon, and bless you, in spite of all your misery; then you will soon make a better progress. To the despair of our own strength is good; but we must never despair of the power of Christ, who is risen from the dead, but be sure to overcome with him at last. He will certainly help you in the due and best season.
Hell and thy sins resist thy course,
But hell and sin are vanquish'd foes;
Thy Jesus nail'd to the cross,
And sung the triumph when he rose.
He dies; and in that dreadful night
Did all the powers of hell destroy:
Rising he brought our heaven to light,
And took possession of the joy.
Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But he chasteneth us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Hebrews 12. 6-10.
To these chastenings belong outward afflictions, which are precious means, and sanctified to believers. O my dear heavenly Father! thou art pleased with a true child-like confidence, but I am still of a distrusting heart, when anything comes upon me on a sudden. Help me always to entertain the kindest thoughts of thee, and to fear no adversity, looking upon it as a token of love, and not of hatred; and really believing it to be intended as a blessing for my good. Whatever providence may order, let me only be convinced of thy fatherly affection, and fall in with thy wholesome and loving designs.
Though for my sin I justly feel
Thy discipline, O God,
I wait thy gracious moment still,
Till thou remove thy rod.
For I have found 'tis good for me
To bear my Father's rod;
Afflictions make me learn thy law,
And live upon my God.
This is the comfort I enjoy,
When new distress begins;
I read thy word, I run thy way,
And hate my former sins.
The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. Psalm 119. 130. Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. Psalm 119. 113.
We may have a clear sight and a real taste of th gospel, and yet be soon deprived of the comfort of it again, if we do not walk in godly simplicity and poverty of spirit; for Christ will have none but humble child-like disciples. But if we abide in Christ, by a close and humble walk with him, we shall come to a great and lasting assurance. For neither a sweet sense of Christ, nor even faith itself in Christ, is the ground of our salvation, but Christ alone, received into the heart as the Saviour. Faith does not save, but enables us to receive the Saviour, and with him salvation. Neither does a sweet sense of Christ save us. It only shows the Saviour is present with us. Now the weakest true believer does receive Christ as well as the strongest, though he reap no present comfort from his faith. We must first believe before we can feel, and be thankful for our feeling, but not trust in them.
Thy mercies fill the earth, O Lord;
How good thy works appear;
Open mine eyes to read thy word,
And see thy wonders there.
When once it enters to the mind,
It spreads such light abroad,
The meanest souls instruction find,
And raises their thoughts to God.
'Tis like the sun, a heavenly light,
That guides us all the day;
And through the dangers of the night,
A lamp to lead our way.
Since I'm a stranger here below,
Let not thy path be hid;
But mark the road my feet should go,
And be my constant guide.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. Psalm 119. 37.
If you were to see a man endeavouring all his life to satisfy his thirst by holding up one and the same empty cup to his mouth, you would certainly despise his ignorance, but if you should see others of brighter parts, and finer understandings, ridiculing the dull satisfactions of one cup, and thinking to satisfy their own thirst by a variety of gilt or golden empty cups, would you think these were even wiser or happier, or better employed for their finer parts? - Now this is all the difference that you can see in the happiness of this life. The dull and heavy soul may be content with one empty appearance of happiness, and be continually trying to hold one and the same empty cup to his mouth all his life. But then let the wit, the great scholar, the fine genius, the great statesman, the polite gentleman, lay all their heads together, and they can only show you more and various empty apearances of happiness; give them all the world into their hands, let them cut and carve as they please, they can only make a greater variety of empty cups; for, search as deep, and look as far as you will, there is nothing here to be found that is nobler or greater than eating and drinking; than rich dress and human applause; unless you look for it in the wisdom and laws of religion. Reader, reflect upon the vanity of all orders of life who live without godliness, and see how all the ways of the world are only so many different ways of error, blindness, and mistake, that you may be earnest at the throne of grace to be turned from the creature, and seek for happiness in the Creator.
No peace or lasting rest
Earth's flatt'ring joys impart;
The portion of the beast
Will not content my heart:
The God of spirits only can
Fill up the vast desires of man.
Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Psalm 55. 1. - Christ's Answer: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shal ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. John 16. 23. For the Father himself loveth you. verse 27 He has promised: Before they call I will answer: and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65. 24. Therefore I say unto you, What thing soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11. 24.
He that converses much with God in prayer, and has some child-like confidence in his word, shall certainly be heard; and these answers of prayer are undeniable evidences of the truth, the faithfulness, and the love of God, and greatly strengthen his faith; and at last bring him to be intimately acquainted with God. The more we receive, the more we are enlightened to see how much there is still wanting. This stirs us up to more fervent desires; and the more we desire and believe that we shall receive it, the more shall be granted. Unbelief receives nothing, Matthew 13. 58; but faith opens all the treasures of God, and never goes away empty.
Because on me they set their love,
I'll save them, saith the Lord;
I'll bear their joyful souls above
Destruction and the sword.
My grace shall answer when they can,
In trouble I'll be nigh;
My pow'r shall help them when they fall
And raise them when they die.
If I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1. 10. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. Romans 15. 2. Fear or love of men, and hypocrisy, very often, are nearly allied. A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet. Proverbs 29. 5. But he that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. Chapter 28. 23.
We are inclined to extremes, even then when God has begun his work in our soul. At one time we are apt to run into a false activity for the conversion of others, trusting too much to our own sufficiency and strength; at other times, perhaps, we fall into too much remissness and inactivity for the salvation of others. May the Lord therefore always guide me to steer the middle course, so as to walk in all singleness and humility of heart, as well as in true fervency of spirit, faith, and love, that it may be said, "I believe, therefore do I speak." Grant, O my dear Saviour, that I may shine as a light, and be useful to all about me: never seeking my own but only the salvation and good of others, with unfeinged love. Oh may that thy love may constrain me in all things! Amen.
My own glory still I seek,
Still, I covert human praise;
Still, in all I do or speak,
Thee I wrong, and rob thy grace.
And must that which is so good
Evil prove to sinful me?
Poison shall I draw from food,
Sin from grace, and pride from thee?
Oh forbid it, humble love!
Hide me, O Father, hide!
Far away this snare remove,
Save me from the sin of pride.
Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before before him. 1 John 3. 19.
The evidence of our assurance of eternal happiness is that which every soul, that makes serious reflections on matters of religion, pants after: It is therefore necessary to know upon what foundation this blessed evidence is built, and from what principles it arises; and those, I think, are chiefly faith, love, and obedience; since no man can have this assurance who does not feel in himself the principle of obedience; nor can he have obedience without the principle of love, nor love without the principle of faith; for it is a notorious contradiction to imagine that any one can be assured of God Almighty's pardon, without obeying him; of his favour, without loving him; or of the eternal enjoyment of him, without a firm and steadfast belief in him. But here many mistake the nature of these things: true belief in God represents him to the mind as infinite in glory, and power, and wisdom, and goodnesss, and in all perfections, with such charms, such beauty, such lovliness, as to captivate and ravish the affections of the soul, and smite it with Divine love; true love reigns triumphant in the soul, engrosses all its affections, strips other objects of their charms, nay, makes them appear vile and contempible, in comparison with the supreme good, true obedience strives to please God, to resemble him, to render himself acceptable to him, and ardently desires the enjoyment of him.
Faith only give me peace with God,
But, if my faith be true,
It surely shows itself by love,
And kind obedience too.
He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matthew 24. 13. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Revelations 3. 11. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10. 12.
He that stands in faith, and by nature is of a cheerful temper, must not magnify the measure of his own faith, nor undervalue that of weaker souls; for such conduct would declare that he is now fallen into pride, and a contempt of his brother; therefore, however fast we may seem to stand, let us be wary and watchful. We are never so near a fall as when we grow self-confident. He who knows the nature, and power of temptations will not discourage the weak, nor insist too much upon particular enjoyments and sensible assurances, which are not the constant witness and marks of faith. The Holy Spirit himself is the earnest and seal of adoption; who is to be known not only by this joy, but all his other fruits and operations. To trust too much upon feeling disturbs our peace as soon as it is gone; but to rely on the word of God preserves a settled assurance.
Jesus, shall I never be
Firmly grounded upon thee?
Strong in faith I seem this hour
Stripp'd of the next of all my power!
Plant and root and fix in me
All the mind that was in thee;
Settled peace I then shall find,
When I am renew' in mind.
Grant that every moment I
May believe and feel the nigh;
Steadfastly behold thy face,
'Stablish'd with abiding grace.
If any man have not the Spirit of Christ (but the spirit of the world), he is none of his. Romans 8. 9. See also verses 7, 8, 14.
For not only gross wickedness, but even a carnal mind, and "the friendship of the world," is enmity against God. James 4. 4; Philippians 3. 18, 19. But how do I know that I have the Spirit of Christ? - Answer. I have prayed for him earnestly; this cannot be in vain. Luke 11. 13. He works also hatred and sorrow of sin; rebukes, comforts, and drives me to Christ and to prayer. This is his abiding witness, built upon the word of God, which no man of this world can have, but even the weakest believer enjoys.
Holy, true, and righteous Lord,
I seek to know and do thy will,
Be mindful of thy gracious word,
And stamp me with thy Spirit's seal.
My conscience purge from every blot,
My idols all cast aside;
Rebuke each vain and sinful thought,
And crucify both self and pride.
Within me thy good Spirit place,
Spirit of health, and love, and power,
And grant me such victorious grace,
That inbred sin may reign no more.
Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. Matthew 13. 12. For the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4. 14.
Of the remarkable increase in the kingdom of God, even from the least beginning, see also Matthew 13. 31-33: And that beautiful figure, Ezekial 47. 1-12. This well being opened, it highly concerns us to draw living water out of it daily by fervent prayer, and then it will spring up freely. But, reader, if you begin to be slothful, and distracted with worldly cares, not abiding closely with Christ, nor diligently on him, your spirit will soon be dried up, and you will scarcely be able, with anxious groans, to draw a single drop from this well. Therefore, take heed to your spirit; and if you desire your own comfort and God's glory, keep near the well's mouth, and be drawing its water continually by prayer, and drinking it sweetly by faith.
Glory to God that walks the sky,
And sends his blessings through;
That tell his saints of joys on high,
And gives a taste below.
Cheerful I feast on heav'nly fruit,
And drink the pleasures down;
Pleasure that flow hard by foot,
Of the eternal throne.
But ah, how soon my joys decay,
But how soon my sins arise,
And snatch the heavenly scene away
From these lamenting eyes.
When shall the time, dear Jesus, when,
The shining day appear,
That I shall leave these clouds of sin,
And the guilt and darkness here?
Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 25. 30.
Look at this man to whom his lord had given one talent; he could not bear the thought of using his talent according to the will of Him from whom he had it, and therefore choose to make himself happier in a way of his own. "Lord," said he, "I know thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast no strewed," etc. But his Lord having convicted him out of his own mouth, dispatched him with this sentence, - "Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness," etc. Here you see how happy this man made himself by not acting according to his own account, a happiness of murmuring and discontent: "I knew thee," says he, "that thou art an hard man:" it was a happiness of fears and apprehensions; "I was," says he, "afraid:" it was a happiness of vain labours and fruitless travels; "I went," said he, "and hid thy talent;" - and after having been awhile the sport of foolish passions, tormenting fears, and fruitless labours, he is rewarded with darkness, eternal weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Look at the man with his five talents: "Lord thou gavest unto me five talents; behold, I have gained beside them five talents more," etc. Here you see a man wholly intent on improving his talents; he hath no uneasy passions, murmurings, vain fears, and fruitless labours, like the other; but his work prospers in his hand; his happiness increases upon him, the blessing of five becomes the blessing of ten talents; and he is received with a "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
With careful hand may I employ
The talents God has given;
Yet not my profit, but my faith,
Must bring my soul to heaven.
Through desire a man having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. Proverbs 18. 1. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, genleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Galatians 5. 22, 23.
Through pride and self-will, a man having separated himself from the written word of God, and the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, seeks to set up and pull down, and to establish everything according to his own wisdom, self interst, or ambition, instead of humbly following the truth as it is in Jesus. Self-will never becomes a Christian, and much less reviling those who differ from us. The Lord was not in the strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire; but in the still small voice. 1 Kings 19. 11, 12. He that taketh offence in everything that differs from him, shows great weakness. It is written, "Destroy it not." Isaiah 65. 8. Though the grape be young, there is wine in the cluster. All spiritual exercises are good: brotherly love renders them beautiful and lovely. The Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ breathes love to him, holy joy in his salvation, and a divine and peaceable temper, with long-suffering and gentleness towards the weakness and infirmities of all around us. The fruit of the Spirit is real goodness in heart and life, steadfast fast faith in a precious Jesus, a partaking of his divine meekness temperance, etc. By these things let us daily try our own spirit, instead of sitting in judgment of the spirit of others.
Lo! what an entertaining sight
Are brethren that agree;
Brethren whose cheerful hearts unite,
In bands of piety.
What streams of love from Christ, the spring
Descend to every soul,
And heavenly peace, with balmy wing,
Shades and bedews the whole.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13. 35.
"God is love; and every one that loveth is born of God:" if we love one another as brethren in Christ, and love all saints as saints, not because they are this or that party; and if we love, not in word only, but in deed, and show the truth by works and labours of love - this is solid proof to ourselves and to others that we are real disciples of Jesus: it is a clear testimony that we have his Spirit and his love is shed abroad in our hearts; that we are of the family and household of faith, and shall enjoy all the family privileges. This is a better eveidence, and more convincing to all around us, of what we are, than all knowledge, gifts, attainments, and outward priviliges whatever. O God of love, cause me to love thee, and all thine; the poor, the weak, and feeble as well as the strong; for all are thine.
The Thirteenth of October.
Let party names no more
The Christian world o'erspread;
Gentile and Jew, and bond and free,
Are one in Christ, their Head.
Among the saints on earth
Let mutual love be found;
Heirs of the same inheritance,
With mutual blessings crown'd.
Let envy and ill-will
Be banish'd far away;
Those should in strictest friendship dwell,
Who the same Lord obey.
Then will the church below
Resemble that above;
Where streams of pleasure overflow,
And every heart is love.
Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. Matthew 24. 42.
To watch is the wise exercise of a gracious soul, who is sensible of his own weakness, loves his Saviour, and fears to grieve his Spirit; who is well acquainted with the depth of corruption in fallen nature; is well apprized of the invisible powers of darkness; and hearkens to the voice of his kind and adorable Shepherd. This watchfulness discovers an awakened attention to spiritual concerns, and has the love of Christ for its motive, and is attended with constant dependence on Christ for protection from dangers, and for strength against all enemies, together with supplies of grace in every time of need. If our religion be only in outward profession, it may pass without watching; but if it be true grace in the heart from Jesus Christ, that sacred treasure will need to be guarded by circumspect watchfulness. The exhortation is to all God's children necessary in every condition, in every stage of a Christian's life; in youth, manhood, old age; in prosperity and adversity, in the seasons of consolation, and in the times of temptation; in company and alone. O blessed Jesus, help me to watch and pray; let me be always ready; keep me in thy love, and preserve me by thy power, till my change shall come.
Lord, help me to watch,
And help me to pray
Lest the enemies catch,
By night and by day.
The world and the devil
Are spreading their net;
My heart, too, is evil,
And full of deceit.
As the hart panteth after the water brooks so pantest my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God. Psalm 42. 1, 2.
The Fifteenth of October.
Divine Answer: Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Isaiah 55. 1, 2.
There is a great difference between a legal and a faint-hearted soul: the former is puffed up with self-righteousness; the latter humbly thirsts after Christ's righteousness; therefore he is not under the law, but has grace already. It is only the child, or the new actually born, that can cry and thirst. And though he cannot so fully believe it, yet to have grace is one thing, and to feel and enjoy it is another. Therefore, let not the weak be confounded, which is done very easily, the enemy himself contributing to it as much as he can; but let it be declared, even the weakest, that they have saving grace when they are brought to be earnestly panting, and made truly willing to receive all without price. Matthew 5. 3.
Eternal wisdom has prepared
A soul reviving feast,
And bids our longing appetites
The rich provision taste.
Jesus, the Lord, invites us here,
To this triumphal feast;
And brings immortal blessings down
For each redeemed guest.
O glorious God! what can we pay,
For favours so divine?
We would devote our hearts alway
To be for ever thine.
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? Psalm 13. 2.
God's Answer: Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4. 6. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall sustain thee. He shall never suffer the righeous to be moved. Psalm 37. 5; 55. 22. Thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. Isaiah 25. 1.
"Be careful for nothing," is a wall against a thousand troubles. But if we give room to any care and unbelief, it is like a leaven that spreads through all our actions. Therefore, we ought never to despair in our lawful calling, but rely in all things on the good providence and faithfulness of God; firmly believing he will never fail to carry us through the most difficult and intricate circumstances, though there should be ever so little appearance of it in our own eyes.
He that can dash whole worlds to death,
And make them when he please,
He speaks, aand that almighty breath
Fulfils his great decrees.
His very word of grace is strong
As that which built the skies;
The voice that rolls the stars along
Speaks all the promises.
He said, "Let the wide heav'n spread,"
And heav'n was stretch'd abroad;
"Abram , I'll be thy God," he said,
And he was Abram's God.
It is done. Revelations 21. 6.
When Jesus bowed the head, and gave up the ghost, he said, "It is finished." - The arduous and important work of obedience and suffering, which I had undertaken in my mediatorial capacity, is finished. I have glorified my Father on earth; I have finished the work he gave me to do.
The Seventeenth of October.
When all the redeemed are gathered, He who sitteth on the throne beholding those he purchased with his blood, and brought to glory, rejoicing in these of his hands, thus expresseth himself, It is done. The means and helps appointed for training you up, and preparing you for glory, are now laid aside, being no longer necessary; the scaffolding is now taken down, when the grand and glorious building in all its parts is finished. "That which is perfect is come, and that which was in part is done away." What depth of wisdom , what beautiful order, in the plan of salvation and in the tendency of its various parts, to perfect the glorious redeeming love, agreeably to the eternal counsel of peace! How harmoniously connected to all the links of the golden chain! Romans 8. 29, 30.
This is the doing of the Lord; and is it not marvellous in my eyes? When receiving the Spirit that is of God, I see things that are freely given of God, do I not see and admire my dear Immanuel in the whole of the plan; in him the beginning and finishing of this grand design? Am I part of the plan? Is not his eye upon me, his hand about me? O amazing wisdom and love! Shall no part ne neglected? Can nothing fail in the Redeemer's hands? Shall even the weakest be supported? Shall none be lost? Shall all his have eternal life? Why then should I fear? The mighty One will do all his work in me and for me. Is the prospect by faith of this finishing work pleasant and transporting? what must the immediate blessed vision be? O my God, I will live in hopes of one day joining with all the redeemed in the song of Moses and the Lamb; keep me by thy power to everlasting salvation.
When all the saints are gather'd home,
And time its course has run,
What shouts the ransom'd souls will give,
When Jesus cries, "'Tis done!"
We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14. 22. Therefore, let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12. 1. Ye have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin. verse 4.
Some licentious professors think there is no need to strive against sin; and some would seem so holy as to be above it; but here we are plainly told of striving against it. While St. Paul speaks of the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit, is to the same purpose, Galatians 5. 17., and the most experienced Christians are witness to it. The word of God is said to be a sword, our prayers a wrestling, and our faith the victory. Thus our whole race consists in strivings and conquests. There is always an enemy to be conquered first, before we can make a considerable progress in anything that is good; and none of our enemies are very easily to be overcome, but some are very stubborn. Therefore courage and patience are required; and thus we may be sure to have the victory at last.
In Jesus' strength, seek, O my soul,
Thy glorious warfare to pursue,
He only can thy sins control,
And give thee vict'ries ever new.
The land of triumph lies on high,
There are no fields of battle there;
Lord, make me conquer till I die,,
And finish well the glorious war.
Assist me with supplies of grace,
To bring thy gospel good renown,
And let me, when my labours cease,
Receive through Christ the promised crown.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righeousness for the remission of sins that are past. Romans 3. 24, 25.
How sweet are the words, "By grace (without merit) ye are saved!" Here is an overflowing fountain of comfort and Divine strength. But how little are the generality of vain and worldly people, who still feed upon husks, acquainted with these words. How little are they relished by our self-righteous moral Christians. But oh! how deliciously does a poor hungering sinner fare upon them. There is hardly anything less known and understood, as to the power and experience, than the mystery of Christ's suffering and dying for us, and justification by faith in him; though it is the only paradise and element of believers, and the greatest jewel restored by the Reformation. Such talking and representations of sin as only strike the imagination are not sufficient; but we must also feel the mortal wounds of sin, by which the flesh is mortified, and be actually healed by the stripes of Christ.
The Nineteenth of October.
God, the great God, that rules the skies,
The gracious and the just,
Makes his own Son a sacrifice,
And here lies all our trust.
Here rest my faith and ne'er remove;,
Here let repentance rise,
While I behold his bleeding love,
His dying agonies.
With shame and sorrow here I own
How great my guilt has been;
This is my way t' approach the throne,
And God forgives my sin.
See that ye fall not out of the way. Genesis 45. 24.
Joseph, having shown himself fully reconciled to his brethren, dismisses them with this caution; "See that ye fall not out by the way." He knew that they were but too apt to be quarrelsome. One might say. "It was you that upbraided him with his dreams;" another, "It was you that said, 'Let us kill him;'" another, "It was you who stripped him of his coat;""It was you that threw him into the pit;" another, "It was you that sold him to the Ismaelites," etc. Thus their journey to their father's house would be very uncomfortable, if this spirit of quarrelling and upbraiding once got possession of them. Fellow Christians, what a lesson is here for us! Whar says our Lord Jesus to us? Love one another; live in peace: whatever occurs, let us not fall"out by the way." Are we not all brethren? Have we not all one Father? Are we not all subjects of free and sovereign grace? Are we not all agreed in essential points? Are we not all sinners by nature and practice? Have we not all one onject of faith? Are we not all travelling the same road? Oh, then, why should we fall out by the way? Suppose we be of different denominations, yet, holding the same Head, why cannot we love as brethren? (the best and most enlightened of all "see but in part, through a glass darkly:" and what a powerful reason is here for mutual forbearance. Let not the strong despise the weak, nor the weak judge the strong. Suppose our way should part a little as to externals; yet all setting out for the same spiritual Egypt, all under the same Leader, why may not we all hope to meet at last in the true Canaan? Have we not open and secret enemies around enough, but we must quarrel one with another? Satan, false professors, and the ungodly world, are unanimous in their opposition to us; let us be united, that they prevail not against us. Philippians 2. 1, 2.
Our Jesus is the Prince of Peace,
Who made God's quarrel with us cease
And now he bids the children come,
But quarrel not as they go home.
Where shall I find rest? Answer: Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6.16. See also Matthew 11. 28, 29.
The Twenty First of October.
In our own way there is nothing but trouble; but giving ourselves entirely up to be guided by God at his own pleasure, we may always be easy, since we know that by every step he brings us nearer to heaven. The only way to rest is the way of repentance and faith, in which we consider ourselves, from the beginning even to the end of our Christian life, as utterly lost and condemned by the law, and as perfectly reconciled and justified through Christ. Thus to abide in him, to let him work alone, and be truly resigned to his ways, will certainly have the desired effect; whilst, by the righteous and workings of our own heart we can never attain to it, and, which is worse, may be lulled into a false rest.
Lord, I believe a rest remains
To all thy people known;
A rest, where pure enjoyment reigns,
And thou art loved alone.
A rest where all our soul's desire
Is fix'd on things above;
Where grief, and pain, and fear expire,
Cast out by perfect love.
This is the feast of saints on high,
But I may taste below;
And sweeter tastes will God supply,
As into Christ I grow.
Ye are complete in him. Colossians 2. 10.
Think, O believer, with wonder and amazement, reflect with gratitude and love, that whilst thou art deploring the common ruin of human nature, and mournfully feeling its sad effects upon thy own soul, thou mayest yet look through all thine imperfection, fraility, and unworthiness, to thy glorious Representative, and see thyself complete in him. The law which would condemn thee, he has completely satisfied: the obedience which it requires, in order to thine acceptance with God, he has completely paid; and that eternal life, from which thy sinful imperfections must have for ever barred thee, is now become thine unalienable inheritance, as a reward of His righteousness who lived and died for thee. Go forth, then, and glorify him in heart and life; the more thou believest in him, the more wilt thou love him; and the more thou lovest him, the better wilt thou serve him; and till he shall remove thee from this vale of sin and sorrow, let thy song in the house of thy pilgrimage be this - "Complete in him."
To all my vileness, Christ is glory bright;
To all my mis'ries, infinite delight;
To all my ign'rance, wise without compare;
To all my deformity, th' eternal fair.
Sight to my blindness; to my meanness wealth;
Life to my death; and to my sickness, health;
To darkness, light; my liberty thrall,
What shall I say? - My Christ is all in all.
Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him? Job 13. 7. Thy word is truth. John 17. 17.
The Twenty Third of October.
When Moses saw an Egyptian and an Israelite striving together, he killed the Egyptian, and saved the Israelite. Exodus 2. 12. But when he saw two Israeltes striving together, he laboured to reconcile them, saying, "Ye are brethren, why do ye strive?" So when we read, or see, the Apocryphal books, or Heathen story, or Popish traditions, contradicting the Scriptures; as, for instance, Jacob curseth the wrath and anger of Simeon and Levi for murdering the Shecemites, Genesis 49. 7. and Judith blessed God for killing them, Judith 9; - here, and in such like places, let us kill the Egyptian, but save the Israelite - set a value on the Scriptures, but slight the Apocrypha. But when we meet with any appearance of seeming contradiction in the canon of Scripture, as where it is said, "God did tempt Abraham," Genesis 21. 1. and God "God tempteth no man," James 1. 13; - here now, and in other places, we must be reconcilers, and distinguish between a temptation of trial, which is from God, and a temptation of seducement, which is by the devil; and these two seemingly different friends will appear to be brethren, and agree well.
Though various Scriptures seem to clash,
And leave the mind in doubt,
Yet if you read them well with prayer,
You'll find their meaning out.
And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, Hebron for an inheritance. Joshua 14. 13.
The spies that went up to view the promised land, all, except Caleb and Joshua, made a formidable report of the gigantic inhabitants of Hebron, saynig, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." Caleb (answering well to his name, which signifies All-heart) stilled the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome." We are told he had another spirit with him, and followed God fully. Moses, therefore, because he wholly followed the Lord his God, was commissioned to make him a grant of all the land whereon his feet had troden, which was the mountain of Hebron. Caleb was eighty-five years old when he reminded Joshua of this promise; he was forty when when Moses sent him to spy out the land; thirty-eight years the Lord kept him in the wilderness, through the plagues of the desert, and seven years in Caanan, through the perils of war. The city of Hebron was already reduces, but the inhabitantshad repaired to the fastness of the mountain: these he wanted to dispossess, assuring Joshua he had now the same strength of body and holy confidence in God to engage in this dangerous enterprise, as he had at forty years of age, when he was sent as a spy. Joshua blessed him, acknowledged his claim and deserts, besought God to prosper him in his undertaking, and gave him the country: thus was his fidelity and uprightness rewarded. Reader, are you like-hearted with Caleb? Are you longing after Hebron, that is, communion with God? Are you eager to fight against your spiritual foes, those sons of Anak, lusts, passions, the devil, and the world? If so, remember the promise, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be;" keep up the fellowship with God, and no enemy shall be too strong for you; follow God fully; eye the captain of your salvation; fight in his name and strength, and you shal conquer every foe.
All heart, like Caleb, may I be
Against each spiritual foe;
And like him, trusting in the Lord,
To fight and conquer go.
And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon Exodus 12. 29.
The Twenty Fifth of October.
The death of every first-born of the Egyptians carried so lively a resemblance, and bore so natural a relation, to their sin in destroying every male of the Israelites, that they must needs perceive it was inflicted as a punishment for that very cruelty; and cosequently must conclude that the God of Israel took particular notice of human transactions, and sooner or later rewarded every man according to his works. The gradual increase of judgment inflicted on Egypt is somewhat remarkable, and equally expressive of the mercy and justice of God. The first four plagues were loathsome rather than fatal to the Egyptians; but after that of the flies came the murrain, which chiefly spent its rage upon the cattle; the boils and blains reached both man and beast, though there was still a reserve a reserve for life; the hail and locusts extended, in a great measure, even to life itself; the first by an immediate stroke, and both, consequently, by destroying the fruits of the earth. That of darkness added consternation to their minds, and lashes to their consciences: and when all this would not reclaim, at length came the decisive blow; first, the slaying of the firt-born, and then the drowning of the incorrigible tyrant and all his host. Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."
Let no proud sinner grow secure,
Who has through dangers pass'd;
If former judgments turn thee not,
Thy life shall go at last.
Draw me, we will run after thee. Song of Solomon 1. 4.
Divine Answer: I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31. 3.
Many and various are the ways the Almighty takes in bringing his children to himself, and to a knowledge of the things of peace. Sometimes he draws by the silken hand of love; sometimes by the still small voice of his Spirit; sometimes by the knotted cords of pain and sickness; sometimes he drives them by the storm and tempest of his broken law; but most effectually in giving his Son to die for them. Reader, pray always to him to make you sensible of the secret tender drawings of his love, and willing to follow them directly. This praying always is very needful, because we are always in want, and without being instant and earnest we cannot receive much. Therefore, it is not a hard command, but a great benefit and privilege: as God should say, "You are a poor child, always wanting something; but you may always pray to me, and I will always hear, and assist, and draw thee after me."
Oh draw me Saviour, after thee,
So shal I run and never tire;
With gracious words still comfort me,
And be my hope and whole desire;
No lust can stir, nor guilty fear,
Nor worldly wish, if thou art there.
Oh that I, as a little child,
May follow thee, nor ever rest
Till sweetly thou hast pour'd thy mild
And lowly mind into my breast;
Nor ever may we parted be
Till I become one spirit with thee.
Them that honour me I will honour: and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 1 Samuel 2. 30.
This is the part of the prophet's message to Eli, when he honoured his sons above God: he had indeed reproved them, saying, "Why do ye these things? for I hear of your evil doings by all the people." But he did not exert his authority in punishing them as they deserved when they slighted his reproof. This was accounted by God as winking at their sin. He therefore acquaints him that Hopphi and Phineas, as they had sinned together, should die together, and his posterity be cut off in the flower of their age, and from the high-priesthood. Eli was not much affected with this prophecy, till the threatening was repeated by Samuel, an artless child, who did not know the voice of Lord till Eli instructed him. It appeared then much more terrible than from the mouth of the prophet; and led him humbly to acknowledge the justice of God, and to submit to the sentence with a truly penitent heart. This is written for our admonition. Are we valient for the truth, regarding neither father nor mother, nor the most tender relation, where the interest and honour of our God is concerned? Parentts, let this be a warning to you, to train up your children in the fear of the Lord.
The Twenty Seventh of October.
The Lord Jehovah calls,
Be every ear inclined;
May such a voice awake each heart,
And captivate each mind.
Oh harden not our hearts,
But hear his voice to-day
Lest ere to-morrow's earliest dawn
He call your souls away.
Abraham against hope believed in hope. Romans 4. 18.
O my soul, thou hast not one single promise only, like Abraham, but a thousand promises, and many patterns of faithful believers, before thee; it behoves thee, therefore, to rely with confidence upon the word of God. And though the Lord delayeth his help, and the evil seemeth to grow worse and worse, be not weak, but rather strong, and rejoice; since the most glorious promises of God are generally fulfilled in such a wondrous manner, that he steps forth to save us at atime when there is the least appearance of it. He commonly brings his help in our greatest extremity, that his finger may plainly appear in our deliverances. And this method he chooses, that we may not trust upon anything that we see or feel, as we are often apt to do, but only upon his bare word, which we may depend upon in every state.
How large the promises, how divine
To Abra'am and his seed!
"I'll be a God to thee and thine,
Supplying all their needs."
The words of this extensive love
From age to age endure;
The Angel of the cov'nant proves,
And seals the blessing sure.
Our God, how faithful are his ways!
His love endures the same:
Nor from the promise of his grace
Blots out the children's name.
Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood. Galatians 1. 16. For the king's commandment was urgent; much more the commandment of the King of kings. Daniel 3. 22. Therefore, be not slothful in businesss. Romans 12. 11.
The speediest and easiest method to accomplish our desire of overcoming evil, and doing the good, is an immediate compliance with our first convictions, without conferring with flesh and blood. If we delay the work, we give room to other people without, and to Satan and to our sinful hearts from within, to persuade us to the contrary; by which the flesh can easily renew its strength, and the spirit will be weakened. And what will be the consequence of this, but that either we miscarry in our design, or that the conflict will be afterwards so much sharper; and the good work, if not stifled, dropped entirely? Yet, if it be done, it will not be done completely, and with such singleness of heart, as it should be. But if we narrowly watch our hearts, and directly engage with every the least opposition when it stirs, then our enemies will not be so strong; and we shall have no reason to despair.
The Twenty Ninth of October.
Jesus, mighty to renew,
Work in me to will and do;
Turn my nature's rapid tide,
Stem the torrent of my pride.
Take away my darling sin,
Make me willing to be clean;
Make me willing to receive
What thy goodness waits to give.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of un-righteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God. as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6. 13.
If God has my members as weapons and instruments in his hands, I shall certainly be able not only to work, but also to conquer, since he understands full well how to manage them. May the Lord only give me grace not to wind myself out of his hands else I must needs be like a dead, useless carcass; for how can a pen write alone, without being in the hand of a writer? It is true, indeed, that it is very hard, nay, impossible, to be really good, and to do all that is good, if we undertake it alone; but God himself living and working in us, and we truly delighting in him, it is very easy and pleasant. Therefore care is only to be taken that our hearts may be always the working-place, and our members the instruments of God, in which and through which he can perform everything himself.
Now God I serve; to him alone
My thankful homage pay;
My only master, Christ, I own,
And him will I obey.
To him my members I present,
Which he will not refuse;
The meanest, basest instrument
His glory deigns to use.
Servant of sin too long I was,
But Christ has set me free;
Glory to his victorious grace,
Which freely ransom'd me.
The fear of man bringeth a snare. Proverbs 29. 25. Be not conformed to this world. Romans 12. 2. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2. 15.
How many people swell with pride and vanity, for such things as they would not know how to value at all, but that they are admired in the world! How fearful are many of having their houses poorly furnished, or themselves meanly clothed, for this only reason, lest the world should make no account of them, and place them amongst low and mean people. How often would a man have yielded to the haughtiness and ill-nature of others, and shown a submissive temper, but that he dares not pass for such a poor-spirited man in the opinion of the world! Many a man would often drop a resentment, and forgive an affront, but that he is afraid, if he should, the world would not forgive him. How many wish to be real Christians, and would carefully practise temperance and sobriety, were it not for the censure which the world passes upon such a life! Others have frequent intentions of living up to the rules of the Christian religion, which they are frighted from considering what the world would say of them. Thus does the impression which we have received from living in the world enslave our minds, that we dare not attempt to be eminent in the sight of God and holy angels, for fear of being little in the eyes of the world. Reader, how is it with thee? Art thou still hanging between God and the world? Consider, for a moment, what can the world give thee in exchange for the favour of God? What can it help thee in sickness, death, and judgment? Make serious reflection on this with prayer unto God, and the snares of the world will be broken.
The Thirty First of October.
Lord, save me from the fear of man,
Which surely brings a snare;
And make me hear their scoffs and jests
With an unconcerned ear.