Morning and Evening Devotions By Robert Hawker
Morning and Evening Devotions By Robert Hawker
MORNING JUNE 1
“The Lord said unto my Lord.”—Ps 110:1
Some have called this Psalm, David’s creed. Certain it is, that there is scarce an article of a true believer’s faith, but what is in it. My soul, look through it this morning, if thou hast time, and see whether it is thy creed. If not, look at this precious portion of it, and ask of the Holy Ghost to teach thee the blessed things contained in it. “The LORD said unto my Lord:” that is, Jehovah said unto my Adonai. Observe, my soul, that here, as in many other parts of the bible, one of these words LORD is in capital letters, the other in small characters. This no doubt was done by the translators, by way of telling the English reader that the two words in the original Hebrew are not the same. They had no better method of explaining the difference. But by using different sized letters, they meant to say that there is a difference, and the difference seems to be this: the word LORD, whenever used in the Bible in capital letters, signifies Jehovah; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: not as a name of office in the work of redemption, but as intimating his own glorious incommunicable essence. The word Lord in small letters, Adonai, is very frequently (as in this Psalm) applied to Christ in this his gracious office as the Christ of God, and of his people. And a most sweet and precious name it is. It signifies, in a double meaning, first, his own personal authority and power; and, secondly, that power as exerted and called forth into action for his redeemed. Look at thy Jesus, my soul, as thy Adonai this day, and every day, and, a thousand sweet and precious blessings such a view of him, as a ruler, and a support, and a sustainer, will open to thy meditation. Yes, all-lovely, all-powerful, all-gracious Adonai, thou art my Adonai! In this thy name, which is as ointment poured forth, would I contemplate thee. In this thy name would I rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness would I be exalted.
EVENING JUNE 1
“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power: in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.”—Ps 110:3
There is so much of the Lord Jesus in this sweet Psalm, indeed it is altogether so truly a gospel Psalm, that the morning portion, which was a selection from it, cannot be better followed than by taking another verse of it for the evening portion, that both together may furnish out blessed meditations to my soul, in the contemplation of our precious Jesus. Here are views of Jesus, in all his blessed offices, as the Prophet, Priest, and King of his people; and every verse is more or less descriptive of his glorious person, offices, and character. This precious portion for my evening thoughts, contains the promise of Jehovah the Father, in his covenant engagements, that the Redeemer should see the blessed fruits and effects of his undertaking in the hearts and minds of his elect people. “Thy people (saith the Lord) shall be willing.” So then Jesus had a people before his incarnation, and that people Jehovah engaged to make willing; willing to be saved, willing to receive Christ, and own him for their Redeemer? Sweet thought of encouragement to the poor sinner! The Lord undertakes to give the willing mind; so that this is enough to stir the humblest to attend the means of grace, where Jehovah will make Christ’s people willing in the day of Christ’s power. And while it furnisheth out encouragement to the sinner, it holds forth instruction to the saint; the former can plead no inability, and the latter can make no boasting; the willingness is of the Lord, and it is in the day of Christ’s power. My soul! thou canst subscribe to this truth. The first awakenings of grace in thine heart, thou knowest, were not the effect of thy strength, but the willingness there wrought by divine power. But there are in this verse, also, “the beauties of the Lord’s holiness” spoken of; “from the womb of the morning.” It is indeed to see “the King in his beauty,” and to worship in the “beauty of holiness,” when the Lord’s people are made willing in Christ’s power, and worship only in the beauties of Christ’s holiness. And such, the promise saith, shall be the fruitfulness of the womb of conversion in Christ’s strength, when he seeth the travail of his soul, that, as the dewdrops of the morning are incalculable, so shall be the multitude of redeemed souls that shall “flee as cloud, and as doves to their windows!” Precious Lord Jesus! rule thou as a King, the rightful Sovereign of Zion; subdue thine enemies to the sceptre of thy grace, and bring every knee of thy people to bend to the rod of thy power. And Oh Almighty Father! ever let my poor soul praise thee, love thee, obey thee, adore thee, that thou hast fulfilled this covenant promise to thy dear Son, in the instance of my soul. Thou hast indeed subdued the natural stubbornness of my nature, and made me willing to be saved in the Lord’s own way. And now, blessed Lord, I desire to bend the knee of my heart to Jesus, and daily, hourly ascribe the whole of my salvation “to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb that was slain, for ever!”
MORNING JUNE 2
“Living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.”—Zech 14:8
My soul, was not this fulfilled in part when the gospel went forth from Jerusalem? And is it not now fulfilling, while the same blessed gospel is going forth from sea to sea, and from the river even unto the ends of the earth? Surely neither the summer’s drought, nor the winter’s frost, shall dry up or congeal those living waters. But, my soul, hast thou asked of Jesus, as the woman of Samaria did in the moment of Jesus’s promise, for those living waters? Oh if thou knowest, my soul, this gift of God, and wilt daily, hourly, ask of him both in summer and in winter, he will give thee these living waters. Oh contemplate their property, and then, my soul, ask and receive, that thy joy may be full. Jesus himself is this well of living waters; and wherever he comes, like the waters in Ezekiel’s vision, he gives life, and quickens sinners dead in trespasses and sins. Also, Jesus in those streams maintains the life he hath first given. Moreover, Jesus not only maintains, but revives and renews them, again and again, when the graces of his people languish. Again, these living waters of thy Jesus are always running: here is nothing stagnant, but always flowing. Lastly, into whatever heart Jesus gives them, they shall be, as he hath promised, a well of water springing up to everlasting life. Are these things so; and have the saints in all ages, and under all dispensations of the church, both in the old testament and in the new, been thus supplied? Is it indeed He, my beloved, who is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever, that thus hath supplied, and is supplying, and ever will supply all? Is it thou, Oh thou precious Lamb of God, that art in the midst of the throne, leading the church above to fountains of living waters, and becoming the same to the church below! Wilt thou not give of thy fulness to satisfy my thirsty soul in this dry and barren land, where no water is? Yes, yes, my soul, exult with the church of old, for thy Jesus is the same; a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon is my beloved.
EVENING JUNE 2
“But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”—Rom 5:8
It is a very blessed heightening of divine mercies, when we behold them as not only bestowed upon those that deserved them not, but upon those that deserved the reverse of them. It is not enough, in our account of God’s love, to say that God was gracious when we had done nothing to merit his favour, but that God was gracious when we had done every thing to merit his displeasure. This is among the sweet features of the gospel. And the reason is very plain. God himself is an infinite Being, and therefore his love must be an infinite love. All the properties of it are infinite; it must be exercised to suit an infinite power; it must be such as corresponds to infinite wisdom; and its effects must be such as shall be suited to infinite goodness. Hence, therefore, in the display of it, such manifestations must be given as shall set forth, that the love of God, as an infinite Being, totally differs from the love of man, who is but a finite creature. Our love is bounded, like ourselves, by circumstances of a finite, limited, perishing, dying nature, such as ourselves, and all the creatures around us partake of. But in the love of God, there are “breadths and lengths, and depths and heights, passing knowledge!” Now God commendeth his love towards us by those properties; that is, he bids us take notice of it by those special marks and characters. And when the Lord surpriseth the souls of his people by the same astonishing instance of his grace, in those acts of goodness, he speaks as in these solemn words: “If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes, saith the Lord of Hosts?” Zech 8:6. How sweetly is this shewn to us in the gift of his dear Son Jesus Christ! When was Christ given? When we were enemies. On what account was he given? Purely on account of God’s love. And to whom was he given? Not to his friends; not to those who had never offended him; not to those who, by their affection, or by their services, could make some return of acknowledgment for such blessings; but to poor, helpless, barren, unprofitable sinners. So that the love of God in Christ is particularly recommended, sent home, pressed upon our hearts, by this rich display of it. To have blessed us, or to have loved us, if we had never offended God, would have been a stream too shallow, too trifling, to shew forth divine love. No! “God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Pause, my soul! mark these properties, admire divine goodness, and learn how to put a proper value upon the unparalleled love of God in Jesus Christ. So God commended his love towards us!
MORNING JUNE 3
“In his favour is life.”—Ps 30:5
Oh for grace to keep this always in view, for then, thou dear Lord, I should never consider my dead frames, or dead feelings, since I well know that thou ever bearest favour and goodwill towards thy people. For if thy providences frown, or seem to frown, do I not know that behind that aspect thy countenance is the same, always gracious, always favourable, and that thou art invariably pursuing the everlasting happiness of thy people? Let it please thee, my Lord, to grant me this morning such views of thy favour, that I may henceforth trace it in every thing. Was it not this favour that first opened a source of salvation? Was it not this favour that brought me into a participation of it? Was it not this favour that begat me to the knowledge of it—that quickened me to an enjoyment of it—that opened the communication of it, by which thy grace became imparted to my soul? And was it not the same favour that kept alive the incorruptible spark, and maintained it through all the attempts of sin, and the world, and the powers of darkness to extinguish it? Nay, blessed Jesus, what is it now but thy favour that secures me in thy love, and gives me all the inexpressible felicities of mercy, pardon, and peace now, and everlasting glory hereafter? And is not thy favour, then, better than life? Is it not more precious than rubies? Can there be aught desirable like it? Truly, Lord, in thee and thy favour I have life, for thou art both my light and my life; my heart trusteth in thee, and I am helped. “Remember me then, Oh Lord,with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people, Oh visit me with thy salvation.”
EVENING JUNE 3
Jehovahnissi, is the suitable inscription for every undertaking. The meaning is, “The Lord is my banner.” And how blessed is it to set this over us in all the conflicts of our warfare, because it appeals to God, and calls in God to our help in all emergencies. Hence the church cries out, “We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners.” Ps 20:5. And how lovely is the church described, when strengthened in the Lord her God, “looking forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners!” Song 6:10. But this inscription hath a yet more special reference to Jesus. The history to which it belongs, gives us an account of Amalek, with whom the Lord declared “he would have war from generation to generation.” Now as Joshua was a type of Christ, so Amalek became a type of the devil. There is nothing neutral in this war; “He that is not for us, is against us;” but what a blessed relief is it to the soul, that the issue is not doubtful! While Christ is our banner, and Jehovahnissi the glorious name under whom we fight, we shall be more than conquerors through him who helpeth us. The cause is his, the glory of God in salvation his, the everlasting issue of it his, and the whole termination his. Hence we go not forth as to a thing doubtful, but already sure. Sit down, try soul, this evening, and write Jehovahnissi upon all that concerns thee. The Lord is engaged for thee in this holy warfare. The Lord hath sworn that he will have war with all the enemies of his Christ, from generation to generation. Hence he will have a suited grace, and a suited strength, proportioned to the wants of all his people. The name, the person, the work, the righteousness, the finished salvation of the Lord Jesus, is, and must be a banner for triumph, because of the truth. Therefore, as David, who, long before he had possession of the kingdom, enjoyed it by faith; so in Jesus, our Jehovahnissi, we may with confidence cry out as he did, “Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine;” Christ is mine, and heaven is mine; yea, all things are mine; for “Christ is the strength of my life, and my portion for ever.”
EVENING JUNE 4
“Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thine hand.”—Deut 33:3
My soul, here is a very blessed portion to meditate upon in the night watches, and to lie down with, reposing in the bosom of Jesus. The word yea, is a sweet scripture word, and very strong to the purpose. God’s “yeas,” and “amens,” are firmer than all the oaths of creatures; and when Jehovah puts his yea to the love that he hath to his people, it ought to give great comfort and confidence to our faith. And Oh! what testimonies hath Jehovah, in his threefold character of person, manifested, in the Father’s love, the Redeemer’s grace, and the Holy Ghost’s fellowship, in proof of this affection! Blessed Lord! help me to keep it in remembrance. But, my soul, do not stop here. Mark what the Holy Ghost hath said, as a farther testimony of it: “All his saints are in thine hand.” In whatever point of view we read these words, they become blessed. Whether the saints of the Lord Jesus, here spoken of, be old testament saints, or new testament believers, the sense is the same. Jesus committed all his people into his Father’s hands. “Keep them,” cried the Saviour, in that divine prayer, the specimen of his holy intercession, “keep, holy Father, through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me!” John 17:11. And hence, the Redeemer elsewhere saith, “My sheep shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them me, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand; I and my Father are one.” John 10:28-30. Think, my soul, how eternally safe and secure must the church of Jesus be, thus kept by the mighty power of God, through faith, unto salvation! What shall unclasp the hands of Jehovah? Who shall wrest the weakest, the humblest, the poorest of Christ’s little ones, from the holding of his omnipotency? Why then art thou, my soul, so frequently exercised with fears, and doubts, and misgivings? It is the Lord’s love that is the foundation of thy assurance, and not the strength of thy graces! His own free mercy, and not thy merit, were the first causes of thy calling; and what is it now, in thy present preservation, but the same which holds thee up, and carries thee through every difficulty? “Yea, he loved the people:” that is, the source, the reason, the sole motive. And their safety he secures: “All his saints are in thy hands!” Precious Lord Jesus! it is enough. How shall a child of thine perish, when secured by such almighty support? Oh! to hear thy voice, in the soft whispers of thy love, comforting my soul, as thou didst the church of old: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget; yet, will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”
MORNING JUNE 5
“Have ye received the Holy Ghost?”—Acts 19:11
My soul, ponder over the solemn question again and again, and then see what answer thou canst give to a point so infinitely interesting and important. The Holy Spirit is clearly known by the exercise of his blessed offices in every heart where he abides, and where he is the glorious inhabitant. He comes in Jesus’s name as an ambassador, to propose to the sinner a rich and precious Saviour. He comes as an almighty teacher; and this condescending office he graciously exerciseth in convincing of sin, and convincing of the righteousness of Jesus. He comes as an advocate; and by his pleading the cause of a poor sinner’s own necessities, and the cause of a rich Saviour’s willingness and ability to supply all these necessities, he manifests himself a most powerful advocate, when, by his constraining grace, he makes the poor sinner willing in the day of his power. He comes as an enlightener of the dark and untutored mind of the sinner. And this he doth most effectually, when, by shining in the heart, he gives “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” Most gloriously he shines upon the soul, when, by the ministry of his blessed word, and by the influences of his divine grace, he leads the mind forth to the contemplation and love of the person, blood, and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He comes as a witness also to testify of Jesus. And this sweet office is manifested in the conscience when at any time he shews sin to be exceedingly sinful, and that nothing but the blood of Jesus can cleanse from it. And his witness in the soul is proved to the fullest demonstration, when he powerfully brings the guilty conscience under so deep a sense of sin, and so alarmingly concerned for the consequences of it, that nothing will satisfy until Jesus is revealed and brought home to the heart in all the beauties of his Person, and the fulness and suitableness of his salvation, and formed there the hope of glory. He comes also as a Comforter; and Oh how sweetly and fully doth he manifest both the power of his Godhead and the sovereignty and grace of his character, when, by his consolations, as he opens and explains them, and makes application of them as they are in Jesus, he revives the drooping spirit, relieves the depressed spirit, animateth, refresheth, sanctifieth the whole heart, and soul, and mind, and gives a joy and peace in believing, abounding in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost. My soul, what sayest thou now to the question? “Hast thou received the Holy Ghost?” Surely, I do know thee, thou gracious God the Spirit, by these sweet tokens of thy covenant office and character. Lord, I pray thee, be ever with me, and, agreeably to Jesus’s gracious promise, abide with me for ever. Oh may I never grieve thee, by whom my soul is sealed in Jesus to the day of eternal redemption.
EVENING JUNE 5
“Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed.”—Hab 3:13
Every view of redemption is blessed: but there are some views transcendently so. And when the soul is led out in the contemplation of Jehovah, in his threefold character of person, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all engaged, in their goings forth from everlasting, for the accomplishment of it, there is somewhat which overpowers the mind with the greatness, and the surpassing glory of the subject. As the salvation of the Lord’s people is from Jehovah, and from all eternity; so it is to Jehovah, and to all eternity. All the springs of it are from this one source, and tend to this one end. The song of heaven, which John heard; so proclaimed it: for while the address was to the Lamb, in ascribing to him all the glory of the work; the great purpose for which it was wrought, was ascribed to the Father: “Thou wert slain, and hast redeemed Us to God by thy blood;” Rev 5:9. My soul! mark the similar expression in this song or prayer of the prophet. Jehovah “went forth for the salvation of his people; even for salvation with his anointed.” And was not Christ the anointed of the Father! And did not Jehovah go forth with Christ, upholding, supporting, carrying on, and completing redemption work in, and by, and with Jesus? Yea, did not Jesus go forth from everlasting, when his delights were with the children of men before the world? Is it not of Jesus that it is said, “Then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men?” Prov 8:30-31. Oh! the soul-comforting subject! How truly blessed to see the whole Godhead thus engaged in the salvation of poor sinners! Yes! blessed Lord Jesus! it is plain, that in all the goings forth of Jehovah, the redemption of thy church was the one great object and design. Before time began to be numbered, thou wentest forth. In time, when thou camest in substance of our flesh, still the salvation of thy people was the object. And now in eternity, thou art still going forth, in thy priestly office on thy throne, which thou art carrying on in heaven to the same purpose, to make the salvation of thy people secure. Oh for grace to keep these views always in remembrance, that, while Jehovah is thus, in one eternal act, going forth for the salvation of his redeemed, all his redeemed may go forth in love, and adoration, and praise, in the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ: and here on earth begin the song which is never to end in heaven: “To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever, Amen.”
MORNING JUNE 6
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits.”—Ps 68:19
Behold, my soul, what a sweet portion for thy morning meditation is here. See what thou canst gather out of it to furnish new songs of praise to the bountiful Lord whose mercies it records. Blessed Spirit! I beseech thee open these precious words of thine to my view. Blessed be the Lord, it saith, yea, so say I; blessed be Jehovah; blessed be the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for they are the united source of all my blessings. And blessed be the majesty and glory of God for ever, who daily loadeth his people with benefits. Count over, my soul, each of these blessed expressions, for every word is weighty and ponderous. God not only gives blessings, but daily. His mercies are constant as the morning, unceasing, continual; strength suited to the day, and mercies adapted to every moment. Faith needs no hoards, no banking-houses: nay, it is faith’s precious property, and her blessedness, to be always empty, in order that the sweetness of being filled by Jesus may be the better known. But this is not all. God not only daily gives out blessings, but loadeth his people with benefits. He openeth the windows of heaven, and poureth out of his grace in such fulness, that there is not room to receive. He makes their souls like the heart of Elihu, as it is said of him, for want of vent, like new bottles he was ready to burst. So Jesus poureth out of his love into the souls of his redeemed, that they are overpowered with his goodness. Knowest thou not, my soul, somewhat of this! Oh yes, I trust I do. Why then, “blessed be God, who daily loadeth me with his benefits.” And what endears all this in a ten thousand times greater degree, is the assurance that the whole is in a way of salvation. So saith this sweet scripture. He that loadeth us with benefits, is the God of our salvation. He that is our God, even he is the God of our salvation. Oh precious, blessed consideration, then are these blessings everlastingly secured; for he that now daily loadeth us with benefits, will unweariedly do the same to all eternity. He is not only the portion of his people now, but will be so for ever. He not only gives strength equal to the day, but will himself be our strength to all eternity. And mark it down, my soul, as the most blessed part of those daily benefits; he that thus loadeth the soul with all the benefits of covenant blessings, in the grace, mercy, favour, love, blood, righteousness, and all the sweet tokens of redemption in Jesus, signs and seals every one of them in his dear name: and as he said to Abraham, so he saith to all Abraham’s seed, “Fear not, I am thy shield, and thine exceeding great reward.” Shout then, my soul, and henceforth let this be thy morning song: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth thee with benefits.”
EVENING JUNE 6
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”—Heb 9:28
My soul! pause over this blessed portion, for it is most blessed, and seek from God the Holy Ghost, grace to gather all its sweets for thine evening enjoyment. Every word is big with importance. And, first, who is it that is here said to have been once offered? Even Christ, the sent, the sealed, the anointed of Jehovah. So that when thou goest to a throne of grace, to plead for mercy in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; thou goest in his name, whom thy God and Father hath appointed. Thou then tellest thy God, what thy God first told thee. He, in whose name, blood and righteousness, thou askest redemption, is he whom Jehovah himself “hath set forth as a propitiation, through faith in his blood.” Hence it is impossible not to succeed. “I have given him (saith the Lord) for a covenant to the people.” Next, consider the fulness, the greatness, the all-sufficiency, of this sacrifice, which thy Jesus hath offered. He was once offered. Yes! it is enough: “For by that one offering, he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” There was, and is, more merit in that one offering of the Lord Jesus Christ, to take away sins, than there is demerit in all the sins of his people for ever. Mark this down also, when thou goest to the throne. Thou art seeking redemption, upon the plea and footing of a full and rich equivalent made by thy Surety, under Jehovah’s own appointment and authority. Then go on to that other most interesting part of this precious verse: “And unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Pause, my soul, over these words. When thy Jesus appeared the first time, he came as the burden-bearer of all the sins of his redeemed. And though in himself “he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;” yet he was made both “sin and a curse for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Hence all the sins of his redeemed were charged upon him, and “the Lord Jehovah laid upon him the iniquity of us all.” But when he had by himself purged our sins, the whole weight and pressure of sin, with all its tremendous effects, were for ever done away. And therefore unto them that look for him, when he shall appear the second time, it will be without sin unto salvation. He put away sin by his first coming; and by his second, he will put all his redeemed into the complete possession of that salvation which, by his one offering up of himself for sin, he hath eternally secured. What sayest thou, my soul, concerning thyself, and thy personal hope in these glorious things? Art thou one of that blessed happy number who are thus looking for Jesus? Dost thou believe that Jesus died and rose again? Art thou so well pleased with the merits and efficacy of this one offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all, as to seek no other, to desire no other; yea, to renounce and despise every other? Pause, and duly consider. These are solemn soul transactions. A mistake here, is a mistake indeed. Oh! it is blessed to be well pleased with what Jehovah hath declared himself well pleased with: and to be satisfied, yea, well satisfied, with what Jehovah is well satisfied. For then thou wilt be daily on the look out for thy Lord’s return, as one that is on the look out for a dearly beloved friend. And thus, if thou art in love with his appearing; loving all that appears to promote thy Redeemer’s glory on earth, in the conversion of sinners, and comforting of saints, loving his church, his Zion, his ordinances, his people; shortly the hour will arrive, in which the Master will come, and call for thee; thou shalt hear his chariot- wheels at the door, and his voice will be distinctly heard by the waiting spirit; “Arise, my fair one, and come away!”
MORNING JUNE 7
“If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness; then he is gracious unto him, and saith, deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.”—Job 33:23-24
My soul, how precious are those views, in looking back upon where the first discoveries of grace were made. Moses never forgot the first visions of God at the bush; neither did Jacob outlive the remembrance of the first Bethel-visit of a God in Christ to his soul; and why should I? Hast thou not known this messenger, this interpreter, one among a thousand to shew unto thee God’s uprightness? Oh yes, Jesus by his Spirit hath shewn to me that my “God is righteous in all his ways, and holy in his works.” When by the blessed discoveries which had been made to me in his word, by his ordinances, providences, judgments, mercies, like the poor creature described in this sweet scripture, when reduced to a mere skeleton, by reason of soul sickness, driven out of all resources in myself, and utterly despairing of ever seeing the face of God in glory, by any creature attempts, and by all creature righteousness, Oh then it was, thou blessed, glorious messenger of thine own covenant; thou faithful interpreter of the mind and will of Jehovah; then it was I was led to see the freeness, fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency of a Redeemer’s righteousness, and to cast my poor defenceless, naked, trembling soul upon the rich, powerful, and altogether-sufficient salvation, of thee, my God and Saviour! Oh how hast thou sweetly and mercifully explained to me the secrets of covenant mercies, the glories of thy person, and the greatness of thy finished work. And now at every step I take, at every portion of thy blessed word I read, when my mind feels the remains of indwelling corruption, and all the lurkings of the enemy’s suggestions within; then, then it is I hear the Father’s gracious voice, “Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.” Yes, precious Jesus, thou art my ransom, and my righteousness for ever!
EVENING JUNE 7
“He brought me to the banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love.”—Song 2:4
In whatever sense thou art led, my soul, to look at the banqueting-house of Jesus, thy joy will be great in the contemplation. And if he who hath prepared the banqueting-house, and well stored it with every thing to afford a spiritual repast, will lead thee thither, and regale thee there with the rich enjoyment of himself, and the fulness of blessings in him, thou wilt have a feast of fat things indeed! Come then, this evening, and take a view of Jesus’s banqueting-house, and wait on thy kind and condescending Lord. He hath been known to take home many a poor waiting hungry sinner, that hath been on the lookout for him, to his banqueting-house, and given him a gracious, full, and satisfying entertainment. Come then, my soul, and see this banqueting-house of Jesus. Some have looked at it as the covenant itself of redemption; for this is indeed a house of banquet, where every thing that can enrich the soul in the love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, is found. Oh! the blessedness of this covenant! Well might David, when he was brought into it, exult and say, “This is all my salvation, and all my desire!” And some have looked at the banqueting-house, and thought it meant the church, the house of God; for here all the blessings of the covenant are given to the guests which Jesus brings into it. And here again we find, that they who are blessed with a place in God’s house are so delighted, as to resolve to go out no more. “Here would I dwell (is the language that expresseth the sentiment of all): this is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein,” Ps 132:14. And some have looked at the banqueting-house of the Lord Jesus, and considered, that it is the blessed “word of God, the scriptures, of truth.” And certain it is, that “they contain the words of eternal life;” and open every day, and all the day, an everlasting supply to banquet the hungry soul, and to satiate the sorrowful soul. One, who could not be mistaken, said, when he had been feeding upon the rich things contained in it, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart,” Jer 15:16. And another, not less taught, cried out in a transport, “O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day,” Ps 119:9. But I see no reason why the whole may not be considered as the banqueting-house of Jesus. For when, by the sweet influences of his Spirit, he hath brought his redeemed into a heartfelt enjoyment of an interest in his covenant, his church, and scriptures, every word, ordinance, and means of grace, with all the promises, are the inheritance of his people. Pause, my soul, and inquire, whether the Lord Jesus hath thus brought thee in? Art thou acquainted with his banqueting-house, and convinced that none but Jesus could bring thee in? It is a solemn thought! Man may attend the church, may read the scriptures, follow ordinances; yea, go to the Lord’s table; but unless Jesus, by his Holy Spirit, lead the sinner there, meets him there, and blesseth him there, to what purpose will be the going? Look to it, my soul, that thy visits are by the Lord’s invitation, and thy welcome from him; yea, that he leads thee by the hand, meets thee, and blesseth thee; sets his banner over thee of love, and bids thee partake largely in the riches of his grace and salvation, in those well known words of thy Lord: “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”
MORNING JUNE 8
“A red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke. And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face.”—Num 19:2-3
I remember well it is said of our Lord Jesus, that, in order to sanctify the people with his own blood, he suffered without the gate. But though I clearly apprehend that the law, with all its sacrifices, was but a shadow of good things to come, and the body was Christ, yet, had not the Holy Ghost been graciously pleased to illustrate and explain, by other scriptures somewhat either direct, or by allusion, in reference to Jesus, I should have overlooked how, in many striking points, Jesus is here set forth in this type. Surely, Lord, thy spotless purity was beautifully represented in the spotless heifer here appointed for sacrifice. And the very rare colour of a red heifer plainly testified the singularity of thy sacrifice. Adam himself was so called, as a token of the red earth from whence he was taken. And when Jesus, as the Son of man, came to do away all the effects of Adam’s sin and transgression, he manifested, by the redness of his apparel, and the blood sprinkled upon his garments, the gracious purposes which all implied. But I do not recollect, in any other type of my Redeemer, a particularity which pointed to the freeness of thy voluntary sacrifice, Oh thou Lamb of God! as the one here represented, in that this heifer was to be one upon which had never come yoke: nothing, Lord, but thine own free, sovereign love, and at the call of God thy Father, prompted thine infinite mind to be the willing sacrifice for poor sinners. There was no yoke, no obligation, nothing to compel thee. Lo, I come, was thy gracious voice, when neither sacrifice nor offering could ransom thy people. Oh Lord! let the sense of thy freeness in salvation comfort my soul under all heart-straitenings in myself; and the consciousness that there was no yoke upon thee, Lord, but thine own everlasting love, be the sweet constraining yoke on my soul, to bind me to thy love and to thy service for ever.
EVENING JUNE 8
“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”—1 Pet 1:8-9
My soul! mark what a blessed testimony believers of the present hour are here said to give to an unseen, but dearly beloved Redeemer; and behold what blessed effects are induced in the soul by such lively acts of faith upon his person and righteousness! And, indeed, when it is considered who Christ is, what he is to us, what he hath done for us, and what he is for ever doing for us, and will do to all eternity, who but must love him? In his person all divine perfections center; whatever tends to make any creature lovely, in heaven or on earth, is found in Jesus in the most eminent degree. For there is nothing lovely in creatures of any character, whether angels or men, but it is derived from him: it is Jesus who gives all that excellency and grace which they possess; the whole is found in him, and received from him. And when to these views of what Christ is in himself, the believer adds the consideration of what he is to him, what he hath wrought, and what he hath accomplished in redemption for him, such thoughts of Jesus, under the teachings of the Holy Ghost, in his glorifying him to the soul, give “a joy unspeakable, and full of glory.” My soul! what saith thine own experience to these truths? Surely Christ is a portion full enough, and rich enough for every poor needy sinner to live upon to all eternity. And if thou hast been taught (as I trust thou hast long since been taught, and long proved) that all the fulness in Jesus is for his people; that his grace is magnified in giving out of his fulness to supply their need; yea, that Jesus waits to be gracious, and is as truly glorified, when a poor creature lives by faith and joy upon his bounty; as he is when that poor creature lays himself out in praises for that bounty; surely, though thou hast never seen Christ in the flesh, yet by faith thou hast seen him, and lived upon him, and hast such believing views of him, as giveth thee present peace, and immediate enjoyment of salvation. Oh! the felicity of thus realizing future things by present possession! Oh! the blessedness of substantiating things unseen by the strength of that faith which worketh by love! See to it, my soul, that thy God and Saviour is increasingly precious, and increasingly lovely, day by day. See to it, that he who is lovely to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost; the praise of all his saints in glory; the joy and adoration of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; and lovely to all creation, but to devils and poor blind unawakened sinners: see to it, my soul, that this lovely and all-loving Jesus is the first, and best, and completely satisfying object of thy delight; that this blessed testimony, which the Holy Ghost hath here given of the faithful, may be thine; and that though not having seen Jesus, you love him, and though unseen, you believe in him. This will be to “rejoice with a joy unspeakable, and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul.”
MORNING JUNE 9
“I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.”—Song 8:2
What, my soul, hast thou aught to offer to thy Jesus? Will he accept a present at thine hand? Yes, Jesus will accept those goings forth of his own grace, his own gifts, in the exercises of faith, and love, and joy, and praise; when, by his own sweet and reviving communications, he hath called to the north wind, and to the south wind, to blow a gracious gale upon my soul, and causeth the very graces he himself hath planted in my heart to send forth all their powers in the enjoyment of his person and righteousness. And do not forget, my soul, for thine encouragement to this lovely and becoming frame, these will be more grateful to thy God and Saviour than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. These will be indeed like spiced wine, and the juice of the pomegranate, when those tears of faith, and love, and repentance drop at the mercyseat, in the contemplation of that love of Jesus, which is better than wine. Help me then, thou dear Lord, thus to come to thee. Help me, as the poor woman at thy feet did, to shed my tears, and to offer thee this spiced wine: and no longer by sin and unbelief; and rebellion, to give thee wine mingled with myrrh, as the Jews did at thy crucifixion. Oh God, my Saviour! let it never be said of my soul, from neglect and indifferency to thee and thy sufferings, as thou complainest of them, “They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” No, precious Lord! if thou wilt shed abroad the influences of thy Spirit in my heart, so as to lead out my whole soul in love to thee, in living upon thee, in contemplating thy glory, thy suitableness, thine all- sufficiency, then will my soul praise thee with joyful lips; and then will my beloved say, as to his church of old, “Thy lips, Oh my spouse, drop as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under thy tongue.”
EVENING JUNE 9
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”—Ps 1:1-2
It is blessed to read every portion of scripture which speaketh of perfection in our nature, as referring to the person of the God-man Christ Jesus; and then, from our union with him, and interest in him, to mark our connection as his people, and our concern in all that is said or written of him. In the book of Psalms, particularly, there are numberless passages, which say that of holiness, which can be said of none among the fallen sons of men with the smallest shadow of truth. Who is the man, and where to be found, that hath never walked in the counsel of the ungodly; nor yet, which is more than walking, hath stood, as one not distressed at it, in the way of sinners; nor yet sat down, which is worse than all, in the scorner’s chair? None of the children of men could ever lay claim to the blessedness of such a conduct from his own personal holiness in it. But if we read the words with reference to the ever blessed and ever holy Jesus, all this, and infinitely more, is true; for such was the spotless purity of the Redeemer, that his whole nature was altogether clean; yea, “the law of Jehovah was in his very bowels.” See the margin of the bible, Ps 40:8. My soul! behold in this account, the true character of thy Lord; and in it behold the holiness and purity of that nature, in whose holiness and purity alone thou canst ever see the face of God, in grace here by faith, and in glory hereafter by sight, in open fruition. “Thus read, and thus accepted, the passage in this Psalm becomes blessed indeed. In his righteousness, his people are made righteous; and by virtue of an union with him, and interest in him, and in all that concerns him, being joined to the Lord by one spirit, the souls of the redeemed walk as he walked, avoid the society of the profane, and sit not in the counsel of the ungodly. Precious Spirit of all truth! do thou thus glorify the Lord Jesus to my view; take of the things of Christ, and shew them to me; and grant me daily fellowship and communion with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ!
MORNING JUNE 10
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, Oh Lord! In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”—Ps 5:3
Sweet thought, my soul, to encourage thee this morning, that thy God in Christ is a prayer- quickening, a prayer-hearing, and a prayer-answering God. Art thou dull, dead, lifeless? One look from Jesus, one influence of the Spirit, will kindle desire, and lead thee to the mercyseat, and to the throne of grace. Jesus will do more in one moment, to call off thy wandering thoughts, to open to thy views his glory, and to reveal to thee what thy wants are, and to give thee a spirit of prayer suited to thy wants and his praise, than all thy laboured attempts, without an eye to Jesus, can do for thee for ever. Whence is it, my soul, that prayer is ever a burden, but because we have lost a sight of Jesus? Why is it that thou art at times so little affected with the remains of indwelling corruption, and canst neither rightly value God’s mercies, or be humbled under thine own infirmities? Is it not because thou dost not look up, and behold Jesus in his priestly vesture, waiting to be gracious? Oh didst thou but eye thy God and Saviour under this blessed character, how wouldest thou feel the preciousness of his great salvation, and haste to unload thyself upon the Lord Christ, and cast all thy burden of coldness, deadness, and sin upon him who is mighty to save! Come, Lord, then, I pray thee, with all thy sweet influences, fill my mouth with arguments, and my heart do thou warm with love. I know, Lord, I shall surely speed this day, this morning, at the mercyseat, the moment thou hast loosed my tongue, and enlarged my heart with thy grace. Yes, yes, blessed Jesus, my voice shalt thou hear, my voice wilt thou hear in the morning; at the dawn of day, before cock-crowing, I will direct my prayers to thee, I will send them up to heaven; and through the day, and all the day, and seven times a day, will I praise thee, Oh thou God of my salvation, when thou hast caused me to praise thee with joyful lips.
EVENING JUNE 10
“And Jesus said, who touched me? When all denied, Peter, and they that were with him, said, Master, the multitude throng thee, and press thee, and sayest thou, who touched me? And Jesus said, somebody hath touched me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”—Luke 8:45-46
What a most interesting passage is here! What an evidence does it afford of the clear knowledge of the Lord Jesus; and, by an undeniable conclusion from such a proof of his omniscience, what a testimony does it bring with it of the Godhead of Christ! Pause, my soul, over the portion, and mark it well. Next pass on to another sweet improvement of it, and duly consider what a beautiful distinction is here drawn between the violent pressure of the throng, and the gentle touch of faith. Multitudes crowd to churches, and they hear of Jesus; but the personal knowledge and enjoyment of the Lord Jesus, is this touching him. Oh! for grace to have this right discrimination! It is very easy to attend the means of grace, to hear or read the holy scriptures; nay, to have a clear head knowledge of divine things, and even to press after information concerning Christ; but all these may be, and perhaps often are void of that life-giving, life- imparting knowledge and enjoyment of Christ in the soul, which is really touching Christ by faith, and believing in him to the salvation of the soul. Once more, remark yet farther, the knowledge Jesus hath of all the individual cases of his afflicted people. He saw this poor woman amidst the whole crowd. He knew her case, knew all that had passed. In the greatest throng, Jesus’s eye is upon each, and upon all. He knoweth what the needy require, and what the secret sighs of his poor people express: and it is Jesus that communicates virtue, grace, strength, comfort, and help, in all their vast varieties. What a sweet thought is it then, my soul, for thee to go in the greatest throng, as well as in the most secret retirement! Jesus encourageth thy faith, bids thee come and touch the hem of his garment, and, depend upon it, as in the instance of this poor woman, however unobserved or unknown by others, his eye is upon thee for good. The language of Jesus to every one of this description is, son! daughter! “be of good cheer, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace!”
MORNING JUNE 11
“And my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord.”—Jer 31:14
Examine thine heart, my soul, this morning, and see whether this blessed promise is really and truly fulfilled in thy experience. Art thou satisfied with Jehovah’s goodness? Yes, if so be thou hast so received that goodness as manifested and treasured up in the person and work of Christ, and art so believing as to be living wholly upon it. This is a grand thing to do; and when it comes to be strictly enquired into, few, very few, are living so wholly upon it, and so completely satisfied with it, as to be seeking for no additional satisfaction elsewhere. Now, my soul, as there are but few that are so fully satisfied with the Lord’s goodness in every thing that concerns salvation, both in providence and grace, let thy morning thoughts be directed to see whether thou art one of that happy few. I will, for the sake of shortening the inquiry, take up the subject from this ground; that thou art satisfied thou hast an interest in Jesus. Thou hast a long time since been driven by thy necessities to Christ as a complete Saviour; and thou art resting all thy hopes, joys, and expectations, upon his blood and righteousness. I will consider this point as fairly and fully determined. Why then, perhaps, my soul, thou wilt say, is not this to be satisfied with Jehovah’s goodness? Alas, here is the great defect of God’s people! Though resting on this foundation, how often may they find their hearts exercised with endless perplexities how this grace is to be improved, or how that gift is to be employed. And according as it appears to their view they have improved the one, or employed the other, their peace and comfort is proportioned. My soul, do you not see that this is self-satisfaction, and not being satisfied with God’s goodness? This is setting up the comforts of Jesus’s graces and Jesus’s gifts above the glorious author of those gifts and graces. To be really satisfied with God’s goodness, implies living upon that goodness; and that is Christ himself. Living upon Jesus, acting faith upon Jesus, perceiving all our fresh springs to be in Jesus, and therefore drawing all from him. And, my soul, if thou art thus satisfied with God’s goodness, thou wilt find it is injurious to the comfort and blessedness of this life of faith to be ever looking off Jesus to any thing his grace and goodness worketh in thee, lest in the view of the work itself, be it what it may, the source of that work is overlooked, and self-satisfaction, instead of Christ-exalting, should creep into thy soul. In every act, my soul, see to it then that all thy satisfaction is in Jesus, as the goodness of Jehovah. Lord, fulfil this sweet promise, and make me satisfied with thy goodness!
EVENING JUNE 11
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”—Exod 13:21-22
My soul, look back this evening to the church’s history in the wilderness, and behold how Jesus watched over his people then as he doth now. Surely it is sweet, it is blessed, to mark the same evidences of the Redeemer’s love, and to observe, that in affection to his people (as in person so in love) he is “the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” Among many precious testimonies to this effect, that of the pillar of the cloud by day, and of fire by night, in the camp of Israel, is not the least. We are told in this scripture, that the Lord was in this cloud; and another scripture confirms it, saying, that Jehovah “spake unto them out of the cloudy pillar.” It is wonderful to conceive what effect must have been wrought on the minds of the people by this constant display of the Lord’s goodness. Contrary to all other clouds, it was always stationary, always near the tabernacle, and acted as the reverse of all other clouds, in that it shone bright by night, and was dark as a cloud to obscure the sun’s brightness and scorching rays by day. Besides these and other wonderful properties, its movements became the token for the camp of Israel to move, and when it rested, it implied that Israel was to rest also. And thus, not for a short transient march or two, not on any particular emergency, did it become the guide and protection of Israel, for forty years together, until all the people of God arrived in the promised land. Pause my soul, and ponder over the grace of thy covenant God in Christ, in this standing miracle; and when thou hast duly considered the wonderful subject, say, was not Jesus then as much, in type and figure, preached to the church of old, as he is now in sum and substance? Was the Lord veiled in a cloud then, and hath he not since veiled himself in our flesh? Did he go before the people then, and doth he not the same now? Was he stationary then, that is, ever with them, and is he not with his people “always, even unto the end of the world?” Was the cloud in the wilderness the reverse of all other clouds, shining by night, but becoming a grateful screen by day? And is not Jesus all this and more; shining most bright upon his people when they are in darkness, and sheltering them when the heat of persecution or distress is at the height? Did the cloud never depart from the people during their forty years’ journey through the wilderness until they arrived at Canaan? And doth not our Lord go before, and follow his redeemed, all the way of their pilgrimage, until he hath brought them home safe to heaven? Oh! thou glorious, gracious, great I AM! be thou, dearest Lord, still the light, the way, the truth, and the life, to all thy redeemed. And as now, since thou hast finished redemption-work by thine open presence upon earth, in substance of our flesh, and “washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning:” do thou, Lord, fulfil that sweet promise, and “create upon every dwellingplace of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and a smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defence!” Isa 4:4-5.
MORNING JUNE 12
“And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”—Heb 11:13
My soul, hast thou also witnessed this confession before many witnesses? See whether thou hast the same evidences they had. In the first place, they were led to see that here they had no continuing city. Sin, sorrow, sickness, death, inhabited this region. Every thing said to them in that sweet voice of God, “Arise ye, and depart, for this is not your rest, because it is polluted.” What sayest thou, my soul, to this first view of the subject? Look at it under another. Hast thou learnt, and so learnt as to prize it, the blessedness of that promise, “there is a rest that remaineth for the people of God?” What sayest thou to this also, my soul? Dost thou see that Jesus is that rest, and is he the object of thy desire in rest? For the prophet saith, “He is the rest wherewith he will cause the weary to rest, and he is their refreshing.” Isa 28:12. Hast thou heard and welcomed his invitation?—”Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!” Go one step further in the enquiry. Under these convictions of soul art thou travelling the heavenly road, asking the way to Zion with thy face thitherward, as a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth? Go further yet. Art thou guided, as Israel was in the way, by the pillar of cloud by day, and guarded by the pillar of fire by night? Art thou coming up out of the wilderness of this world, leaning upon Jesus? Advance yet further in the enquiry. While the Holy Ghost as the pillar of cloud is going before thee, and thou art resting upon Jesus as thy staff and stay, knowest thou God for thy Father, his word thy guide, his promises thy treasure, his ordinances thine inns, not to dwell in, but like the wayfaring man to tarry but for the night? And dost thou draw water with joy out of those wells of salvation? Pause, my soul, as thou seekest answers to these questions. Knowest thou the difficulties of a wilderness dispensation; and the sweets of those streams from that river which make glad the city of God? Art thou like other travellers, sometimes enjoying fine weather when Jesus’s face, his love, his mercy, are all in view; and sometimes walking in darkness, when storms of sin and Satan throw clouds over the gracious prospect? More especially, art thou the scorn and derision of the carnal? Do they make thee their subject of laughter, and art thou the drunkard’s song? And, lastly, to mention no more, knowest thou, my soul, what it is sometimes to be discouraged by reason of the way, while Satan would prompt thee to go back; but sweetly constrained by Jesus’s love, thou art still the patient follower of them “who through faith and patience inherit the promises?” Hast thou, my soul, these precious marks of the stranger and pilgrim upon earth? Oh then, remember what is said of them to whom the Holy Ghost bears testimony, and by thy covenant interest in Jesus behold thy vast privilege in the same blessed promise; God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.
EVENING JUNE 12
“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save. He will rejoice over thee with joy. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.”—Zeph 3:17
My soul! look at this old testament promise, through the medium of the new testament dispensation, and behold what a cluster of rich blessings it contains; and which, like all the other promises of the bible, is “yea and amen in Christ Jesus!” And observe how it opens. The Lord thy God, that is, Jehovah in his threefold character of person, in rich covenant engagements, is “in the midst of thee;” hath set up his throne in Zion, and lives, and reigns, and governs in the hearts of his redeemed. So said Jesus, and so that dear Lord explained it in after ages: “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him;” John 14:23. “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth;” John 14:16-17. Mark these blessed, precious truths, my soul, in the most lively characters, on thine heart; and hence learn, that the Lord thy God, in covenant engagements, dwelleth in the midst of his people, and in the hearts of his people; that, like the sun at midday, in the centre of the heavens, he may enlighten, warm, refresh, and give forth all his blessings to bless thee. Next mark what the prophet saith of this covenant Lord God, who is in the midst of his church and people: “He is mighty!” Shout aloud at this, my soul; for if he be mighty, then he will support thy weakness, and subdue thy foes. What can bear down, or destroy the soul, whom this mighty God upholds? What shall arise to distress a child of God, as long as God is almighty? And if he hath engaged to be for thee, who can dare to be against thee? sweet consideration! What signifies my weakness, while Christ is strong? Yea, his strength will be made perfect in my weakness. Go on farther, my soul, in looking over the many blessed things spoken of in this verse. “He will save.” Yea: he hath saved, and doth save, and will save. And this is the very cause, the angel said, for which his name should be called Jesus: for “he shall save his people from their sins.” Matt 1:21. Think of this, when at any time, sin or sorrow, trial or temptation, would cast thee down. Jesus is still Jesus, still on his throne: yea, thy Saviour. Amidst all thy changeableness, there is no change in him. And observe yet farther, how the prophet chimes on those sweet words: “He will rejoice over thee with joy: he will rest in his love: he will joy over thee with singing.” Pause, my soul, over this most gracious account. Jesus not only saves, not only pardons, but he doth it as God, as Jesus. It is his joy, his delight, his pleasure, to do so. As he saith in another scripture, “Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart, and with my whole soul;’ Jer 32:41. And as the poor timid believer, from feeling such coldness and deadness, as at times he doth in himself feel, is but too easily prevailed upon by the enemy, and by his own unbelieving heart, to suppose the same of Jesus: that he might not give way to this temptation, the Lord adds, “he will rest in his love:” will abide in it unmoved, and without change; for, as he saith in another scripture, “the Lord God of Israel hateth putting away:” Mal 2:16. Oh! what a multitude of sweet things are folded up in this verse! Jesus rejoiceth over his people; yea, Jesus joys over them with singing. How often have I seen, in some lovely evening, like the present, that sweet bird of the air, called the skylark, mount aloft from her nest, still looking at her young as she ascends; and when advanced to her height, warbling in the most delightful notes over her brood; until at length, with all the rapidity of love, she darts down to cover, to feed, and to protect them! Thus, but in an infinitely higher degree, doth Jesus joy over his children with singing, resting in his love; and is ever near, ever mighty to defend, to bless, to keep, and to make happy, those who rest in his strength; while he rests in his love, being their God, and they his people.
MORNING JUNE 13
“The master is come, and calleth for thee.”—John 11:28
My soul, mark how gracious the Lord is to his people in the special and distinguishing tokens of his grace. Jesus doth not barely send his gospel to the church, or house, or family; but he speaketh by the soft, but powerful whispers of his love, to the individual soul. “To thee is the word of his salvation sent.” Hence the soul who feels the sovereignty of his word in the constraining influences with which it is accompanied, cries out, I shall never forget thy word, for by it thou hast quickened me. But besides the calls of his grace in his house of prayer, in how many ways, and by what a variety of methods, is the Lord Jesus calling upon his people. My soul, I hope that thou art always upon the look out, and art getting to thy watchtower to hear what the Lord thy God hath to say to thee, by his word, by his providences, his chastisements in love, and in all the gracious manifestations of his favour. Behold, he saith, “I stand at the door and knock.” So Jesus calleth, and so let my soul hear. Now, Lord, thou art calling me by thy word and providence in a way of grace: by and by I shall hear thy voice in the hour of death and judgment. And who shall say how very powerful, sweet, and gracious, that call is, when Jesus cometh to take his people home to himself, that where he is, there they may be also? ‘I hear my Master’s voice,’ said a highly favoured servant of God in the moment of his departure. Perhaps a loud voice, a glorious distinguishable voice to him that is called, when no stander by is at all conscious of the sound. Hence another said, when he was dying, ‘I shall change my place, but not my company.’ Jesus, master, in that hour be it my happiness to say, “let me hear thy voice, let me see thy countenance: for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”
EVENING JUNE 13
“The golden pot that had manna.”—Heb 9:4
There is somewhat very blessed in the account given concerning the furniture of the second tabernacle. Some few evenings since, my soul, a glance was taken of the candlestick, the table and shewbread, in the first tabernacle. Perhaps the Lord the Holy Ghost will open to thy meditation some edifying considerations in the view of the contents of the second. The golden pot, which preserved the manna pure, that in itself was soon subject to corruption, was unquestionably a beautiful emblem of the divine nature of Jesus, imparting durableness and dignity to his human nature. We are told concerning the manna, that if the Israelites kept it, though but for a day (except when miraculously preserved pure on the sabbath-day, to remind them of that ordinance) it bred worms, and stank; Exod 16:20. But in this golden pot, an omer full of manna put therein, was laid up before the Lord as a memorial, and preserved pure. Precious Lord Jesus! do I not learn from hence, that it is thou, and thou alone, who givest life, and purity, and sweetness to our poor persons and offerings? Every thing in us, and from us, must, like ourselves, be corrupt, and is indeed part of ourselves, and subject to putrefaction: but in thee, and by thee, as the manna was preserved in the golden pot, we are preserved, made clean and holy, in thy holiness and purity. And surely, Lord, I learn, moreover, from this part of the furniture in the second tabernacle, that as thou art entered into the holy place, there to appear in the presence of God for us; so, by this emblem of the golden pot, is set forth the sweet communion and fellowship, which thy people now are privileged to enjoy, in thee, and from thee, and with thee! Yea, Lord, thou art still the bread of God, the living bread, which that manna represented: and still dost thou feed thy church above, and lead them to fountains of living waters. And surely, Lord, thou wilt no less feed thy church below, which yet remains in this dry and barren wilderness, where no water is. I hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches, and I feel delight: “To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” Rev 2:17.
MORNING JUNE 14
“Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved.”—Song 8:5
Who is it that asketh this question, my soul? Is it the holy angels, astonished as they well may, at the gracious condescension of thy Jesus in the grace and favour he hath bestowed upon thee? Or is it the world at large, looking on with amazement at the love of Jesus to his chosen? Is it the Jewish church, amazed that Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of God’s promise in Christ? Or, above all, is it Jesus himself, not because he knoweth not the grace he hath bestowed, but because he admireth the grace he hath given, and as he did the centurion’s faith which he himself was the author of, he looketh upon it with pleasure? And art thou, my soul, come up from the wilderness of nature, a dry, barren land, where no water of life is; from the wilderness of the world, and from all the unsatisfying and empty pursuits of it? Art thou leaning upon thy Jesus, cleaving to him, hanging upon him, strengthening thyself upon him, determining, like another Ruth, concerning Naomi, where Jesus goeth thou wilt go, and where he lodgeth thou wilt lodge? Is this thy conduct, and dost thou rest the whole stress of thy present and everlasting happiness upon his glorious person and righteousness? If so, angels may well look on, and cry out, who is this to whom the Father of all mercies hath been so gracious; to whom Jesus hath manifested his love, otherwise than he doth to the world; and on whom the Spirit hath shed his blessed influence to make thee willing in the day of his power? Yes, precious Jesus, I would come up from every thing near and dear in this wilderness state, forget mine own people, and my father’s house; I would lean wholly upon thy glorious person for my acceptance before God: lean wholly upon thy righteousness, as all-sufficient for my justification. I would lean upon thy fulness, day by day, for the supply of all grace here; and I would lean solely upon the divine efficacy and blessedness of thy blood to cleanse my soul for everlasting fitness for happiness hereafter. Witness for me, ye angels of light, that this is my beloved on whom I lean, and in whom I trust, and desire to be found in, for time and for eternity. Amen.
EVENING JUNE 14
“Aaron’s rod that budded.”—Heb 9:4
One view more of the tabernacle, and the articles of furniture therein contained, may be rendered profitable, under the Spirit’s teaching: and therefore, my soul, look at that standing miracle, which was preserved there, of the rod of Aaron. The history of it is related in the book of Numbers, Num 17. It was the method which the Lord was graciously pleased to appoint, for the determining on whom his choice rested for the priesthood. To this end, a rod was taken from every tribe, and laid up before the Lord in the tabernacle; the Lord having declared, that whichsoever of the tribes had the rod to blossom, should be the man. The rod of Aaron, on the morrow, had buds, and blossoms, and fruits. But in all these, Christ, in his everlasting priesthood, was typified. To behold a dry stick bring forth buds, and become green and flourishing, was miraculous, and only to be referred into the sovereign power and will of God. But, my soul, when we see Jesus, as the branch out of the root of Jesse, we behold him, as the prophet, ages before his incarnation, described him, growing up before Jehovah in his tabernacle, as the rod laid up before him, “a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground.” Isa 53:2. And as the rod of Aaron had in one and the same moment the whole product of the season in buds, and blossoms, and fruits; so in the everlasting priesthood of Christ are suited graces for the several ages of his church, and the several wants of all his people. Precious Jesus! may my soul unceasingly look unto thee, as my faithful, everlasting, and unchangeable High Priest! And do thou, Lord, “send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies!” Full sure I am, O Lord, that every thing in me, and from me, like the rods of the different tribes of Israel, will remain dry, and neither give forth bud nor blossom. To thee, and the rod of thy strength, therefore, will I look, that thou mayest give life and grace to my poor soul, to bring forth fruit unto God, by grace here, and glory for ever.
MORNING JUNE 15
“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”—Gal 4:28
Mark, my soul, the distinguishing characters of those who are the children of promise, and see whether thou art of this blessed family. For as the law and the gospel are strikingly distinguished from each other, so are the children of nature from those of grace. And how is this to be known? Look at the case Paul hath referred to: Isaac was the son of Abraham. And the apostle saith, “that they which are of faith, the same are children of Abraham. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” And as Isaac was a child of Abraham by promise, not by natural power, so believers in Jesus are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Hence Paul saith, “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not to seeds as of many, but as of one; and to thy seed, which is Christ.” Precious truth! The children of promise are of Jesus; for he himself is the one great promise of the bible. So that from everlasting they are the seed of Christ: their being, their well being, their everlasting being, all are folded up in Jesus, as the oak in all its foliage is contained and folded up in the first and original acorn. Hence they are spiritually begotten, born, nourished, fed, sustained, led, strengthened, and carried on, through all the gradations of grace, until grace is consummated in the ripeness of their full stature in glory. My soul, art thou, as Isaac was, a child of promise? Oh live by faith on Jesus, and in Jesus, and see to it, in all thy daily, hourly exercises and experiences, that all the promises of God in Christ Jesus are yea and amen, unto the glory of God the Father.
EVENING JUNE 15
“Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree.”—Ps 2:6-7
Here is a subject, my soul, opened for thy meditation, which neither the evening nor day of thy whole life, no, nor eternity itself, will ever be long enough to exhaust. Some of the outlines may be gathered here below, when God the Holy Ghost condescends to teach; but the subject itself will, no doubt, be among the glorious employments of heaven. It should seem, that the divine speakers here are God the Father and God the Son. We find similar instances in the word of God: see Isa 6 and Isa 49; John 12:27-28. And the beloved apostle was led into an apprehension of the same subject, for the church’s instruction, in that vision he saw, Rev 5:1-9. In this vision, Jesus is represented as taking the book, and opening it, and declaring the contents of it. Hence, therefore, when God the Father saith, as in this Psalm, “I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion;” Jesus, as King, declares the decree of the council of peace, which was between them both, for the salvation of his church and people. And what was the decree, but the decree from all eternity; namely, that Jehovah would give a church to his dear Son, and his dear Son to the church that Jesus should take the name of his people, and their nature; become their glorious Head and Representative; redeem them from the ruins of the fall, and make them altogether glorious and lovely, from his comeliness that he would put upon them? Upon Christ’s thus undertaking the salvation of his people, “the decree went forth,” that all power should be his, as Mediator, in heaven and in earth. It began from everlasting: for from everlasting, by this decree, Jesus was set up as the glorious Head and Mediator before all worlds. The same power became his in time; and the same power is his to all eternity. Hence, therefore, Jesus is no sooner seated on his throne, on his holy hill of Zion, but he sends forth the decree; and God the Father confirms the whole, in giving him “the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.” Hail then, thou sovereign Lord! thou almighty King, upon thy holy hill of Zion! Gladly do I acknowledge thee to be my King and my God; for by Jehovah’s appointment, by thy conquest of my heart, and by the voluntary surrender of myself since thou hast brought me under the power of thy grace, am I thine, and no longer my own. Oh! for grace so to acknowledge thee, so to obey thee, so to love thee, that while the Lord Jehovah hath set thee upon thy throne, his grace also may give thee the throne of my heart! And while all thine enemies must bow before thee, may all thy friends and followers rejoice in thy service! Even so, Amen.
MORNING JUNE 16
“He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom.”—Isa 40:11
My soul, mark in this sweet scripture how Jesus is described, in not only attending to all the various wants of his fold, but to the very method of imparting to their several wants in a way corresponding to his own character and their state. In the fold of Jesus, like the sheepfold among men, some are sheep and some are lambs: some of advanced age, and some of younger standing. Well, where will Jesus put the lambs and the weaklings of his fold? Certainly, if there be one place in the heart of Jesus softer and more tender than another, there the lambs shall lay. And as Jesus himself lay in the bosom of his Father, so the lambs of his flock shall lay in his bosom. Sweet thought to encourage thee, my soul, and all the followers of Christ! Jesus will not thrust out the lambs into the dangers of the wilderness, where the prowling beasts of prey are, nor expose them to overdriving, or the speed with which the more mature sheep can travel. But he will proportion their burden to their back, and their day to their strength. And besides this, he will keep them nearer to himself; his arms shall clasp them; the warmth of his bosom shall nourish them; if they cannot walk they shall be carried; and when they cannot find their way, they shall be led. Oh thou great Shepherd of thy sheep, is it thus thou sweetly dealest with thy little ones? Hence I see then explained why it is that young believers, in the first seasons of their knowledge of thee, find so many blessed refreshings, which they afterwards do not so sensibly enjoy. Yes, Lord, it is thus thou gatherest the lambs and carriest them in thy bosom. And sweetly and seasonably dost thou do all this, and in a way which fully proves thy love and compassion to the necessities of thy flock.
EVENING JUNE 16
“Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming: but my people know not the judgment of the Lord.”—Jer 8:7
When the Lord would expostulate with his people, what methods he graciously adopts! There are no creatures in nature so dull, so senseless, and stupid, as God’s people are, by reason of the fall. Every animal hath an instinct, prompting to self-preservation. Are they exposed to danger? how speedily do they endeavour to remove! Are they apprehensive of a storm? they flee to some covering to hide them! The birds of passage, when the first symptoms of winter appear, gather together, to depart to a warmer climate. But man, poor blind improvident man, no winter of death can admonish him; no approach of the departing day of life can prevail, to induce him to flee from the wrath to come. My soul! look round on human life, and mark this, by way of admiring, more and more, distinguishing grace, which enabled thee to estimate thy privileges, and discern that sovereign bountiful mercy, which maketh thee to differ from another. “What hast thou, which thou didst not receive?” But, dearest Lord, is it not to copy after that gracious feeling of thine, which thou hadst in the days of thy flesh, when thou hadst compassion on the multitude, in beholding them famishing, and wast moved in pity towards them; when we behold the great mass of thoughtless sinners, whose concern for self-preservation doth not come up to that of the brute which perisheth? In common life, all are interested, and earnest in the pursuit of the different objects of the world: the traveller is full of thought, in his way home, to see that his path be right; the mariner would not run contrary to the direction of the compass; the man of trade never acts in opposition to the gain of that trade; neither does the man of pleasure lose sight of what will most likely promote that pleasure. But thy people, blessed Jesus, are everlastingly pursuing what they have proved a thousand times to be vain and unsatisfying; yet they pursue it again, and do not learn “to know the judgment of the Lord.” Blessed Lord! undertake for me: pity, compassionate, direct, guide, keep me! Oh! for grace to learn, and rightly to value the things of salvation! And, convinced that Christ is all and in all, may I never seek from the creature what only can be found in the Creator! And having discovered the vanity of every thing out of Christ, may I, where Christ is not, from henceforth learn, with the church to say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee: my flesh and my heart faileth: but thou art the strength of my heart and my portion for ever!”
MORNING JUNE 17
“He restoreth my soul.”—Ps 23:3
Yes, Lord, it is indeed thou that bringest back the strayed sheep; for as no man ever quickened, so none can keep alive his own soul. It was indeed thy promise, and most graciously dost thou fulfil it!—”As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep, so will I seek out my sheep, and bring again that which was driven away.” Ezek 34:11-16. My soul, mark this trait of character in thy Jesus for thy morning meditation. It is well for thee that restoring work, reclaiming work, reviving work, all is with Jesus; begins in him, and is carried on and completed by him, and through his grace in thee. And it is well for thee, my soul, that though thou so often failest in all things towards thy Jesus, yet he never faileth in his love to thee in any thing. Sweet consideration! his love, and not thy deserts, become the standard for all his tenderness to his people. And mark it down, my soul, in strong characters, that Jesus’s grace is much shewn this way. He doth not wait our return, for then we should never return at all; neither doth he wait our cry for help, but he puts that cry into the soul. Alas, how often have we wandered and gone away, even before that we were sensible of our departure. How blessed is it then to see and know that Jesus’s eye is upon us, and that before we return to him, he is coming forth to us. His love, his pity, his compassion, are the security of his people’s recovery. Yes, Lord, it is thou that restorest my soul. Praises to thy name, for thou doest it all in such a way as proves it to be for thy great name’s sake, that thy grace comes freely and without upbraiding. “He restoreth my soul, and leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
EVENING JUNE 17
“I shall behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the world.”—Isa 38:11
My soul, though thou art, I trust, prepared for thy great change, and in an habitual state for death, whenever the Lord shall come to take thee home; yet there is also an actual state of being on the lookout for it, so that it is proper at times to go down to the grave in imagination, before thou art carried thither in reality; that by earthing thyself, thou mayest consider what will be the immediate consequences of death in those things which are now most about thee, and with which thou art necessarily much occupied. “Thou wilt behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the world:” would it not be proper, therefore, to wean thyself from too great an acquaintance with them now, that the separation may be the less felt? Thou wilt be called upon to enter upon a state altogether new, and a path thou hast never before trodden; and would it not be wise to send forth enquiries concerning them, such as scripture gives the clearest answer to, and study the best way to make preparation in Jesus for thy change? What a blessed example hath the apostle Paul left upon record of his conduct in this particular; “I protest,” said he to the Corinthian church, speaking on this subject, “by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily,” 1 Cor 15:31. Such were both the habitual and actual frames of Paul’s mind, that he was every day, and all the day, waiting and looking for his Master’s call. The fact was, he knew the certainty of the ground on which he stood; he had no farther questions to ask concerning his safety in Christ; and therefore, he rather wished to bring the hour on, than to put it off. His whole heart, his whole affections, centered in Christ; and as such, though to live was Christ, yet to die was gain. My soul, what sayest thou to this blessed frame? Oh! for the same earnestness, and from the same cause; that whether this night, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning, when the Lord comes, though thou wilt behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world, yet thou wilt behold the face of God in glory; and when thou awakest after his likeness, thou wilt be satisfied with it.
MORNING JUNE 18
“To him whom man despiseth; to him whom the nation abhorreth.”—Isa 49:7
My soul, let thy longing eyes be directed to him this day whom man despiseth, and whom God honoureth, and to whom he hath given a name above every name. Pause, in the contemplation of the wonderful mystery. Was Jesus indeed despised, and by the very creature he came to redeem? Did angels hail his wonderful incarnation, and man despise, hate, and abhor him? “Be astonished, O ye heavens; and wonder, O earth!” But, my soul, go further in the contemplation of this mysterious subject. What man, what individual man, was it that could thus requite the unparalleled love of Jesus? Alas, not an individual only, but a whole nation; nay, the whole nature, both Jew and Gentile abhorred him; for while in a state of unrenewed nature, to the one he is a stumblingblock, and to the other his cross is foolishness. Ah, is it so, my soul? Why then it follows, that thou, even thou, my soul, wert once in the same state of hatred, and wert by nature, as well as others, a child of wrath, despising this wisdom of God in Christ for the salvation of sinners. And art thou then, my soul, recovered by almighty sovereign grace from this deadly hatred of nature, and dost thou look this day with love, with joy, with rapture, and unspeakable delight to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth? Is Jesus indeed lovely, the altogether lovely to thy view? Is he precious, nay, infinitely more precious than the golden wedge of Ophir? Yes, thou Holy One of God, thou art the all in all to my soul. Witness for me, O ye saints that are now around his throne, that I have none in heaven or in earth that I desire besides him. My whole soul desires to know him, to follow hard after him, to trust in him, to cleave to him, to hang upon him, and to accept and receive him, and to make use of him as the wisdom of God, and the power of God, for salvation to my soul, as he is to every one that believeth. Oh ye sons of men, who are still in the unrenewed hatred of your heart, in your hatred against the precious Christ of God, what will ye do when he whom ye now despise shall come to your everlasting shame? Well might the apostle echo the words of the prophet, for from age to age the astonishing truth remaineth! “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.”
EVENING JUNE 18
“Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”—1 Pet 1:2
Of all blessings, surely this is the highest, and the best, which holds forth to a poor sinner the assurance of redemption, as the united result of the love, grace, and mercy of all the persons in the Godhead. My soul, pause over the glorious truth, and sweetly mark the testimony of each cooperating and acting together in the great work of salvation. Behold thy God and Father setting apart, from all eternity, the chosen vessels of mercy, foreknowing and fore-appointing every event, in his own counsel, purpose, and will. What a blessed thought, in the mind of the redeemed, is this, to live upon, to cherish, and keep alive in the soul, from day to day, to call up the unceasing fruits of adoration, love, duty, and praise, in grace here, and in glory to all eternity. Go on, my soul, to the contemplation of the second chapter in his holy volume of grace and mercy; and mark what the apostle hath here said of “the sanctification of the Spirit.” So that the blessed hand of the Holy Ghost is as much engaged in this beneficent act of redemption, in the existence of every individual, as the foreknowledge and appointment of God the Father, or of the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Yea, all the glory of redemption, in the grace provided by the Father, and the merits of the Son’s blood and righteousness, depend, for the personal enjoyment of it, in the case of each believer, upon the Holy Ghost’s revelation of it in the soul. Oh! it is blessed to see, to feel, to know, and to enjoy those gracious communications of God’s Christ in the soul, which God the Holy Ghost awakens, and excites, and brings home to the mind. And no less, as the meritorious cause of all (the third chapter in this wonderful volume) do thou contemplate, my soul, the two united branches of thy redemption; the obedience, and atonement in the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. How comprehensive, yet how full and satisfactory! It is Jesus, as God’s righteous servant, who, by his perfect obedience hath justified his people. And it is the death of the cross which hath fully atoned for their transgression; “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.” Behold then, my soul, in these three glorious chapters of redemption how all the great charter of grace is summed up and contained. Take it with thee as thine evening portion; let it lie down with thee, and arise with thee; and carry it about with thee, for thine unceasing meditation during the whole of thy day of grace, until grace is swallowed up in eternal glory!
MORNING JUNE 19
“Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.”—Eccles 9:7
My soul, here is a sweet subject for thy morning thoughts. Art thou accepted in the Beloved? Hast thou accepted Jesus, and God accepted thee in Jesus? Well mayest thou then eat of the bread of common providences, and drink of the sweet of all sanctified mercies, for every thing is blessed in Jesus, and Jesus is blessing thee in every thing. Surely an accepted soul is a blessed soul, for he is blessed in his basket and in his store; blessed in his lying down, and blessed in his rising up; blessed in his going out, and blessed in his coming home; yea, blessed in time, and blessed to all eternity. Yes, thou blessed Source of all my blessedness, thou precious Jesus, I will go my way, for thou art my way; I will eat my bread with joy, for thou art my bread of life; I will drink the wine which thou hast mingled for me, for thy love is better than wine. And as God my. Father accepteth me in thee, this forms an everlasting cause of everlasting joy; joy in what I have; joy in what I expect; joy in even what I want, for those very wants will lead me the closer and the nearer to thee; joy in what I fear, for my fear will keep me depending upon thee; joy in what I suffer, for my sufferings are sweetly blessed when they afford a renewed occasion for my Jesus to soothe me under them, and in his time to deliver me out of them; and joy in all I lose, for lose what I may I cannot lose thee, I cannot lose God’s Christ; I cannot lose his love, his favour, his grace, his Spirit, the efficacy of his blood, and the merits of his righteousness. Oh precious security, precious salvation in the Lord our Righteousness! Shall I not then live up to this heritage, and live under its influence, in the thankful, joyful use of it from day to day? Go thy way, my soul, go in Jesus as thy way; every day, and all the day, eat thy bread with joy; eye Jesus as the spiritual food, and always present at thy table; drink hourly of his cup of salvation, with a cheerful heart, for thou art accepted in the Beloved.
EVENING JUNE 19
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise.”—Ps 57:7
My soul! here is a delightful subject proposed for thine evening meditation, in the fixedness of the heart. The only possible way of really “singing and giving praise to the Lord” with the heart, is when the Lord hath fixed thine heart to the service. Many rush to ordinances, as the unthinking horse rusheth to the battle: not so, my soul, be thy practice. See to it, that He who alone can give a fixedness to the heart, hath fixed thine; for then, when the view of a God in Christ is brought home by the Holy Ghost to thy warmest and most devout affections, then, and not before, will there be a going forth of those affections, awakened and led by the same Almighty Spirit, upon the glorious person of thy Lord, and faith will be in lively exercise, in a way of praise, and love, and obedience, and joy. Then thou wilt sing and give praise “with the spirit, and with the understanding also.” Sit down now, in the coolness of this sweet summer evening, and wait upon thy Jesus in silence and in meditation before him, until the Lord hath given thee this fixedness of affection on his person and righteousness; and then thou wilt find a fitness for devotion, and a fitness in devotion, from the sweet influences of God the Holy Ghost. Oh! how blessed is it to retire from every eye but his, who seeth in secret and to remember, that while thine eye is looking upon Him, he is ever looking upon thee! Such a thought as this begins to give a fixedness to the heart; for the whole current and stream of the affections are directed, and therefore pour in to this one channel; so that, like a river not divided, nothing of it runs another way. And when the full tide of thine affections is thus tending to the person of Jesus, shall not such a fixedness of thought make thee cry out, as David, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise?” It is this state of the heart which makes all the difference between the gracious and the carnal. Both may use closet duties; both may read, yea, study the word; yea, become proficients in the outer understanding of the word; the meditation may furnish the head, but not feed the heart: but it is the gracious soul that enjoys. It is a solemn consideration, how many are employed from year to year, in spiritual things, whose hearts all the while remain carnal. But where there is a fixedness of the heart, by the Spirit of the living God, upon the person, offices, and character of the Lord Jesus Christ, the meditation doth not settle for the mere discharge of a duty, but for the joy of the soul. “Oh how I love thy law!” is then the language of the fixed heart; “it is my meditation all the day.” My soul, dost thou know these things by heartfelt testimony? Doth God the Holy Ghost shine in upon thee with his light, to give thee sweet views, engaging views, soul-arresting views of Jesus? Are thine eyes, I mean the whole affections of thy soul, fixing themselves on Jesus, as a longing woman fixeth upon the one object of her desire, which nothing beside can satisfy? Oh! it is blessed to have this fixedness of mind at all times upon the person of Jesus. For this is to enter into the heart, and to shut to the door, (as Christ expresseth it) by shutting out all thoughts besides, and then looking in every direction for Jesus, and finding him in all, and upon all. His word, his grace, his secret whispers, his communications, are like so many rich cabinets of jewels, which the soul turns over, and finds Jesus in every one. Oh! thou dear Lord Jesus! grant me this happy frame of mind, that I may say, with David, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise!”
MORNING JUNE 20
“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.”—Eph 6:24
And dost thou, my soul, with the same affection and love as the apostle, bend thy knee this morning before His throne, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth are named? Dost thou look up, and pray that all grace may abound? Oh what a delightful thought is it, my soul, to warm thy affections, that in the moment thou art waiting at the mercyseat, thousands are waiting also for the morning blessing. Go then, my soul, and tell thy Redeemer this; tell him that he hath all suited grace, and that the eyes of his redeemed, as the eyes of one man, are all directed towards him. Yes, thou glorious, rich, and gracious Saviour, we do behold thee still as the Lamb in the midst of the throne, leading thy church which is above in glory to fountains of living waters. And, Lord, we know that thou art equally attentive to thy church in the dry and barren wilderness here below, where no waters are. Vouchsafe, blessed Lord, to supply each soul. Thou hast every grace, and all grace, suited to all wants; grace to pardon, grace to save, grace to renew, grace to strengthen, grace to bless. Oh Lord, awaken, convince, humble, comfort, and pour out of thy fulness as our several necessities may be, in calling, cleansing, justifying, adopting, sanctifying, and building up thine household, that all grace may abound, according to God’s riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Oh ye attendants at the heavenly gate, see that ye come not empty away. Remember Jesus is on the throne; eye him there. Behold, the very grace you need is in his hand; read the love that is in his heart, and remember that he hath not only the very grace you need, but every grace, and every mercy for all that wait upon him. Tell every poor sinner this, and bid him ask in faith, nothing doubting. Tell all you know, and all you meet, and all you see, that He who is on the throne hath abundant grace, and wants vessels, the empty vessels of his people, to give out into: tell them that his grace exceeds all sense of grace, all thoughts, all prayers, all praises, all desires; nay, that he hath exceeding abundantly above all that they can ask or think. Behold, then, O Lord, thy children, thy redeemed, thy family, and let all grace be with all them, and upon all them that love thee in sincerity. Amen.
EVENING JUNE 20
“Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given.”—Eph 3:8
My soul, hear what the great apostle to the gentiles speaks of himself. He calls himself “less than the least;” a thing almost impossible in itself; but he doth it with a view to magnify the riches, the exceeding great riches of grace. And in the same moment that he views himself so low and abject, he is lost in amazement at beholding the exalted office to which he was called. So that Paul cries out, “Unto me,” a poor, sinful, unworthy creature of the earth, “to me was this grace given!” My soul, leave for a moment the view of the apostle, and make the subject personal, by looking to a renewed instance of that grace, most freely given, in a case as far surpassing Paul in the greatness and undeservedness of it, as the imagination can conceive. Perhaps every sinner feels the same; this at least is certain, all may well feel the same. But the subject is not properly improved, either in the apostle’s instance, or any other, unless there be connected with it the one great object of the whole, the promotion of the Redeemer’s glory. This was and is the first and ultimate design for which grace was given. “This people,” saith Jehovah, speaking of the redeemed in Christ, “have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise.” Isa 43:21. And how do they shew forth the Lord’s praise, but by the gifts of the Lord’s grace? When Jesus calleth a poor sinner, and manifests himself to him, this is the display of his grace; for it is on such more especially, that he maketh his grace to shine. It would have been no grace had we merited his favour. But because we merit nothing, yea, are justly entitled to punishment, and yet God gives mercy, grace, and favour; this is what illustrates the exceeding riches of his grace, and demonstrates God’s love to be indeed the love of God which passeth knowledge, because it differs altogether from creature love. And what tends yet more to display the riches of grace, that the glory of God in Christ, in following up the blessed plan of redemption, may be great indeed, the crown of Jesus, as Mediator, depends upon bringing to glory the objects of his love, on whom he hath made that grace to shine. And who shall calculate the rich revenue of love, adoration, and praise, in glory, which Jesus will have, and be for ever receiving, from the millions of redeemed souls gathered from sin and Satan, by the alone sovereignty of his grace? My soul, it is truly blessed thus to contemplate the person and work of Jesus, and the sweet effects of his grace. And what an addition to the subject is it, to say, with the apostle, each poor sinner for himself, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given!”
MORNING JUNE 21
“Men wondered at.”—Zech 3:8
Men wondered at indeed, and every redeemed soul may truly say, I am a wonder unto many, a wonder to myself. Oh thou whose name is Wonderful! both thou and the children the Lord hath given thee, are for signs and wonders. Behold, my soul, how it was fulfilled in him whose name was Wonderful, and then thine astonishment will be the less that it should be fulfilled in his followers. I would contemplate thy person, blessed Jesus, and behold thee, not barely wondered at, but despised and rejected of men. The world gazed at thee, but saw no beauty nor form of comeliness in thee to desire thee. In thine offices also, how did the multitude despise thee as a prophet; when blindfolding thee, and smiting thee on thy sacred head, they tauntingly cried out, “Prophecy, thou Christ, who is he that smote thee!” As a priest, what blasphemy did they utter, when they saw enough to be convinced, and to confess, that thou didst save others, but thyself thou couldst not save. As a King, when having nailed thee to the tree, they demanded a proof of thy power in coming down from the cross. And wert thou not, blessed Jesus, wondered at in thy word, when they acknowledged, “never man spake like this man;” yet charged thy doctrines with blasphemy, and derided thee in them? Wert thou not the wonder and the hatred of the world, when thy miracles astonished them, but were ascribed to the agency of Beelzebub? Wert thou not, O thou spotless Lamb of God, wert thou not charged with immorality and called a winebibber, a sabbath-breaker, the friend of publicans and sinners? Did the world thus treat Jesus, and call the Master of the house Beelzebub? Oh then, my soul, well may they so treat them of his household! And must it not be so? Yes. The world knoweth them not, because it knew him not. They are made a spectacle, a gazingstock, a reproach, a byword. How unknown in their new birth from God, how little understood in their union with Jesus, how perfectly hidden from the world their life in the Spirit! What an everlasting opposition to carnal men are their pursuits, their pleasures, their happiness, their conversation, their desires—how wondered at their life of faith on the Son of God! They have meat to eat the world knoweth nothing of, for they feed upon the person, body, blood, grace, and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. My soul, hast thou this rarity of character? Hast thou this blessed singularity? Art thou wondered at because thou runnest not to the same excess of riot, but art blameless and harmless among the sons of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation? Oh blessed, for ever blessed, be his name, who hath called thee to this high, this glorious, this distinguishing honour, of being wondered at and reproached for Jesus’s sake! Yes, Lord, I will not regard the reproach of men, neither be afraid of their revilings, for “the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but thy righteousness shall be for ever, and thy salvation from generation to generation.”
EVENING JUNE 21
“Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”—John 4:29
Those are sweet and blessed views of the Lord Jesus, which he himself gives, when, by letting the poor sinner see himself, how wretched he is, and at the same time how glorious the Lord is, and how exactly suited to his wants and necessities, he makes the soul cry out, as this woman of Samaria did, “Is not this the Christ?” For who but Christ can read the heart, and tell all that passeth there? And as she found it, so all taught of Jesus find the same, that every true discovery of Christ must end in condemning ourselves, and exalting the Redeemer. My soul! there are numberless instructions to be gathered from this scripture, and the history connected with it. Sit down, this evening, in the coolness of the shade, and look at a few of them. The Lord the Holy Ghost will open them to thy meditation. Jesus, we are told, “must needs go through Samaria.” Yes; there was this poor sinner to be convinced of sin, and to be brought acquainted with her Saviour. Hence the opportunity soon offered; and Jesus as soon accomplished the purpose of his going thither. The Lord opened her heart to her own view, and gave her to see the vileness within. He opened, at the same time, her heart to the knowledge of himself, gave her to see his salvation; and the effects were as might have been expected: she hastened to the city, to tell other poor sinners, who also stood in need of a Saviour, that she had found “him of whom Moses and the prophets did write.” Come, said she “see a man, which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?” My soul! hast thou so learned Christ? Hast thou “met with the Lord God of the Hebrews,” and learned from him self-humbling thoughts, and a true conviction of sin? Hath he taught thee who he is, and what need thou hast of him? Hast thou seen him to be indeed the Christ of God; the man, whose name is Wonderful; who, in his divine nature, is “one with the Father over all, God blessed for ever;” and in his human nature, “the man, whose name is the Branch;” and by the union of both natures, the one glorious and true Messiah, “the Lord our righteousness?” And hath such a conviction of the infinite importance of knowing Christ been wrought thereby upon thy mind, that thou hast taken every method of recommending him to others? Surely, my soul, no truly regenerated sinner, who hath known, and seen, and felt that the Lord is gracious, but must be anxious that others should know, and see, and feel it also. And, therefore, like this poor woman, thou wilt be taking every proper opportunity of calling upon all, as far as thy sphere of usefulness can extend, to come and enjoy the same blessings, which the Lord hath imparted to thee. Precious Lord! I would not only invite every poor needy sinner to come to thee, but I would desire to accompany them. I would not say, “Go to Jesus,” as if I needed thee no more myself; but I would say, “Come to him,” let us go together, for “he will shew us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” And Oh! that multitudes may come, and find to their soul’s joy, as the Samaritans did, on the invitation of this poor woman, and be enabled to say, as they said, “Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”
MORNING JUNE 22
“And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with a cluster of grapes.”—Num 13:23
Was not this single cluster of God’s earnest to the people of the sure possession of the land where those delicious fruits grew? And was not the size and weight of this one branch a sample how full and extensive all the blessings, both of the covenant and of the promised land, should be to the after possession of God’s people? My soul, dost thou not see in it then a precious representation of Jesus, that one branch, and of all that cluster of blessings which are in him? Well might the church cry out concerning the Redeemer, “My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.” For whether this camphire, this copher, denotes the vine of Cyprus, or the fruit of the palm-tree, in either, or in both, the soul-strengthening, soul- exhilarating, soul-healing virtues of this unnumbered excellencies, may well be set forth under the beautiful similitude, of the cluster of grapes from the brook of Eshcol. Yes, thou dear Lord! thou hast condescended to compare thyself to the vine; and to thy people thou art indeed a cluster of all that is lovely, sweet, gracious, and endearing. In thee dwelleth, like the berries of the richest cluster, all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. In thee is found all the purity, holiness, harmlessness, and perfection of the human nature, as God manifest in the flesh. In thee, as God- man Mediator, we behold the cluster of all spiritual graces, all spiritual, temporal, eternal blessings, all divine promises, all, all are in thee, to give out to thy people. Neither is there a mercy thy people can want, of grace here, or glory hereafter, but what is treasured up in thee, in a fulness perfectly inexhaustible. Precious Jesus, revive my spirits this day with this view of thee. Give me to see when my soul desireth the first ripe fruit, that thou thyself art all my soul can need. Bring me to the brook of Eshcol, and there let my eyes, my heart, my whole soul, and body, and spirit, feast itself in the contemplation and enjoyment of thy person, thy graces, gifts, and fulness, until, under the full satisfaction my soul findeth, in being eternally filled with thy goodness, I cry out with the church, my beloved is unto me as the richest of all the clusters of copher in the vineyards of Engedi.
EVENING JUNE 22
“Look when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?”—2 Kings 6:32
It is blessed to watch every dispensation of the Lord’s providence, as well as his grace; for Jesus is in all. So that when messengers of heaviness come, and with sad tidings, as in this instance of the prophet, if we shut to the door as they enter, and suffer them to open their commission, we shall hear the sound of their master’s feet behind them, confirming every one. There are no events which can happen to a child of God, but they ought to be thus dealt with. They are like letters personally directed, and speak, in their whole contents, the causes for which the king’s post hath brought them; and they cannot be mistaken, if they are well read, and pondered over; for they point to the individual, as the prophet’s servant to Jehu. “To which of all us, (said Jehu) is this errand?” The answer was, “To thee, O captain!” 2 Kings 9:5. Now, my soul, learn hence how to receive all the messengers of thy Lord. Shut the door upon them, and detain them, until thou hast well studied, and perfectly understood their commission. Oh! my Lord Jesus! in all thine afflicting providences, cause me to hear my master’s feet following every one. “I know, Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in very faithfulness causeth me to be troubled.” I know, Lord, also, that they are graciously commissioned, and the issue must be blessed. And I know, Lord, that even during their exercise, however sharp, they will be sweetly sanctified, if, through thy blessing upon them, they cause my poor heart to cleave the closer to thee. So long then, dear Lord, as thou causest me to entertain right conceptions of these soul exercises, let me never shrink from shutting the door, that I may the more earnestly meditate upon thy messages; and if I see Christ in every one, and blessings in every one, sure I am, the issue of no one will ever be doubtful. I shall then learn the same precious lesson that Job did, and through thy grace, like him, make it practical: and bless a taking God, as well as a giving God: for, let the Lord take what else he may from me, never, never will he take Christ from me; and while I have him, in him I shall possess all things. Oh! for grace so to receive all the sable messengers of my Lord, as to hear my master’s feet behind them. Sure I am, that when their black covering is removed, I shall behold a fulness of blessings which they have brought with them under their garments. Like the angel to Peter in the prison, they may smite roughly on the side; but the very stroke will cause the chains to fall from my hands, and open the prison doors, to give liberty and joy. Acts 12:7.
MORNING JUNE 23
“And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.”—Isa 25:7
What a precious promise was this with which the Lord comforted the church under the old testament dispensation, that the faithful might look forward to the new testament dispensation, when Jesus, in the holy mountain, where he finished transgression by his triumphant death, would effectually remove the covering which had blackened all faces, and had separated between God and guilty sinners. And, that the gracious promise might be had in everlasting remembrance by thy people, the evangelists were commissioned to tell the church, that in the moment Christ died, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, by an invisible hand, from the top to the bottom. My soul, see how Jesus, thy Jesus, hath most effectually fulfilled this precious promise. There was a vail of covering spread to separate thee for ever from God, had not Jesus taken it away, even the covenant of perfect obedience. God’s injured perfections formed also a total separation. And as if these were not sufficient, the vail of sin would have for ever kept up this distance: “Your iniquities have separated between God and you,” saith the prophet. But now by this precious undertaking in fulfilling the whole covenant of works, restoring the honour to God the Father’s injured perfections, and opening a new and living way by his blood, which he hath consecrated through the vail of his flesh, he hath opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Precious Jesus, how endeared to my heart is this view of thee and of thy great salvation! Yes, thou Lamb of God! I have seen by thy Spirit’s teaching, this deadly face of covering, which by sin hath been cast over all people; and I have seen, by the same almighty grace, that vail removed by thee. Now, Lord, in thee, and through thee, and by thee, I am led to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And having fled for refuge to the hope that is set before me, this hope I have in thee, as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and have cast it within the vail, whither thou, our forerunner, hast for us entered, even our glorious High Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.
EVENING JUNE 23
“All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”—John 6:37-40
My soul, commit this blessed portion to thy memory; yea, beg of God the Holy Ghost to commit, and write all the gracious things contained in it, on the inner tablets of thine heart! It is in itself a gospel, yea, a full gospel. Methinks, I would have it proclaimed on the housetops, and published, day by day, in every place of public concourse throughout the earth, until the saving truths were every one of them known, and felt, and enjoyed, by every poor awakened and needy sinner. Mark, my soul, the several contents of what thy God and Saviour hath here said: take the whole with thee to thy bed, this night, and drop asleep, in faith of the whole, in the arms of Jesus; and if the Lord bring thee to the light of the succeeding morning, let those sweet and gracious words, which proceeded out of Jesus’s mouth, salute thee with the first dawn of the morning, arise with thee, and go about with thee, in thy remembrance, until the whole be fulfilled in the kingdom of heaven. Now mark their immense blessings, according to the order in which they stand: “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me.” All; not one, or two, or ten, or a million only, but all. And observe wherefore? They are the Father’s gift to Jesus, and therefore they must come. He saith elsewhere, “that I should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given me,” John 17:2. Hence, therefore, there is a blessed provision, a blessed security, that they shall come; for they are the Father’s gift to Christ, as well as the purchase of Christ’s blood; and the promise is absolute in the charter of grace; “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,” Ps 110:3. And, to give every possible encouragement to the poor coming sinner, whom God the Holy Ghost is leading by the hand to all-precious Jesus, however unconscious that poor soul is of the gracious influence under which he is coming, Jesus adds, “And him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” Observe the tenderness of our Lord’s words. He had said, all shall come: but Jesus well knew the most humble are the most timid, and the most apt to be discouraged; and therefore he makes each one’s case to be expressed by the word him: “him that cometh.” As if Jesus had said, ‘Let that poor creature, who is most afraid, by reason of a conscious sense of his transgressions, take comfort: if he cometh, let him know, that “I will in no wise cast him out.”‘ And to confirm it still more, Jesus adds, ‘For this is the very purpose for which I came down from heaven; not only because it was my full purpose to seek and save that which was lost, but it is the will of my Father also, who sent me.’ And, as if to impress this grand truth upon every poor sinner’s heart, he repeats the gracious words: “And this is the will of him that sent me.” He saith it twice, that there might be no mistake. And yet farther: if a poor sinner should say, ‘But how am I to come, and in what am I to come; what are the qualifications for coming?’ “This,” saith the all-gracious Redeemer, “this is the will of my Father, the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth an him, shall have everlasting life.” And what is it to see the Son, but so to behold him by the eye of faith, as to believe in him to the salvation of the soul; to see him as the Christ, the Sent, the Sealed, the Anointed of God; the one, and only one ordinance of heaven, for the redemption of poor sinners; whose blood cleanseth from all sin, and whose righteousness freely and fully justifieth every believing sinner? Pause, my soul, and well ponder these precious, saving truths; and then take comfort in the blessed assurance, that thou hast all these testimonies in thine own experience, from having long since come to Christ, and long found the certainty of these promises. Lie down, my soul, this night, yea, lie down, my body, this, and every night, until the last night, even the night of death shall come; for thou sleepest in Jesus by faith, and his words are thy security: “Of all my Father hath given me, I should lose nothing; I will raise him up at the last day.”
MORNING JUNE 24
“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which was before the throne.”—Rev 8:3
My soul, behold this mighty Angel, even thy Jesus, in his priestly office. Look at him with an earnest eye of faith before thou goest this morning to the mercyseat. See his golden censer, with his much incense, and contemplate both the fulness of merit in his own glorious Person, and the fulness of efficacy in his work and righteousness for the sure acceptance of all his redeemed. Go near, my soul, having boldness to enter now into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. Hear thy great High Priest bidding thee to take shelter under his golden censer, and behold him presenting thy person and thy poor offerings upon the golden altar, even his divine nature, before the throne. Yes, Lord! I would draw nigh in thee, and by thee, convinced that it is wholly from thee, and for thy sake, either my person or my prayers can find acceptance. For thee, and for thy sake, my sins are pardoned, my offerings are accepted, grace is bestowed, communion and fellowship is obtained; peace in this life, and glory in that which is to come, are the portion of thy people. Hail, thou glorious, gracious, all-sufficient, High Priest! To thee be glory in the church, throughout all ages. Amen.
EVENING JUNE 24
“And they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”—Rev 4:8
Make a solemn pause, my soul, over these words; and when thou hast found a fixedness of thought, that every faculty may be engaged in the contemplation, ponder well this divine perfection of Jehovah, the holiness of his nature, by which an eternal distinction is drawn between him and all his creatures. None but Jehovah can be essentially holy. Angels, who have never sinned, have indeed a holiness; but it is derived from Him, it exists not in themselves, and, in point of comparison, is but as the shadow to the substance; moreover, being in their nature mutable creatures, their holiness may be changed also: the fallen angels are proofs in point. But with Jehovah, holiness is in himself, the peculiar glory of his nature, and inseparable from his very existence. Pause over this view, for it is scriptural, and truly blessed. Go on to another observation. Thrice is the ascription of holiness given, in this sublime song of the blessed in heaven, as if to point out the personality of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the Holy undivided Three, “which bear record in heaven, for these three are one,” 1 John 5:7. When these glorious truths are suitably impressed upon thee, pause once more, and consider with what distinguishing characters the holiness of Jehovah is set forth in the word of God. The heavenly host are said to rest not day and night in proclaiming their deep sense and adoration of Jehovah in this glorious attribute. Now here is somewhat for the mind to lean upon, in contemplating Jehovah’s holiness. Jehovah is eternal also, and hath commanded the church to know him as the faithful God, Deut 7:9. But we never read that the host of worshippers thrice repeat his eternity, or his faithfulness, in their hymns of adoration and praise. Moreover, Jehovah himself seems to have pointed out this divine attribute as among the distinguishing excellencies he will be known by; for he singles it out to swear by: “I have sworn once by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David,” Ps 89:35. Precious thought for the poor timid believer to keep always in view! For it is as if Jehovah had said, ‘I have pledged my holiness, as an attribute essential to my very nature, that what I have promised to David’s Lord, even my dear Son, of the redemption of his seed, as sure as I am holy, I will most certainly perform.’ Moreover, my soul, holiness is the glory of Jehovah. Hence the song of the church: “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods! who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness!” Exod 15:11. And hence Jehovah is said to be worshipped “in the beauties of holiness;” Ps 110:3. My soul! keep this also in remembrance. If the representation of an angel, or a man, were to be made, we should figure to ourselves the most beautiful countenance; and if Jehovah be represented to us, how is it done? Surely in the beauty of holiness; for God the Holy Ghost gives us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ!” 2 Cor 4:6. Pause over these infinitely solemn meditations, and while thou art overawed (as, indeed, it is impossible but to be so) in the contemplation of distinguishing a perfection of the divine nature; and, moreover, as this view of God’s holiness is so directly opposed to the unholiness of a poor fallen sinful creature, as thou art, look up for grace from the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and take relief in the sweet and consoling consideration, that to this glorious God thou art permitted, yea, commanded and encouraged, to draw near, in and through the holiness of thy Redeemer. Hail, blessed Jesus! upheld by the right arm of thy righteousness, and washed from all our sins in thy blood, all thy church may here draw nigh by faith, and send forth their feeble breathings in the same strain as the church in thy presence doth above, while in their hymns day and night, they shout aloud, “Holy! holy! holy! Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come!”
MORNING JUNE 25
“The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.”—Ps 34:15
My soul, never more allow thyself to suppose that thou art overlooked or forgotten amidst the immensity of God’s works. Is it not the province of a father to attend to the wants of his children? And will not God regard his own, that cry night and day unto him, though he bear long with them? This was the very argument of our Redeemer. Do you, saith Jesus, “that are evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; and shall not your heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” But, my soul, while thou art taking comfort from this view of divine love, take with thee another sweet thought from this precious verse of scripture. Whose eyes are thus upon thee, and whose ears are thus open to thy cries, but those of the Lord Jesus? Oh how sweet the thought, that by reason of the Son of God, as Christ, being in our nature, and he having taken upon him our nature, he hath eyes to see, and ears to hear, such as we have. What a blessed light the Holy Ghost hath thrown over all those precious passages in which God is spoken of as having eyes, and ears, and an arm, and the like, describing himself by human powers; that it is indeed the divine nature of the Man Christ Jesus. It is Jesus, the Mediator, the Redeemer, the exalted and triumphant Saviour, who hath all power in heaven and in earth; who “having loved his own which are in the world, hath loved them unto the end.” My soul, learn then to behold in all these sweet portions, that it is Jesus, thy Husband and Brother, as well as thy God and Saviour, and both forming one glorious Christ, whose eyes are always upon thee, and whose ears are always attentive to thy cries, and to the cries of all his redeemed.
EVENING JUNE 25
“Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”—Isa 6:5
My soul! thy last evening was deeply exercised on that glorious subject, the holiness of Jehovah. Let this evening’s meditation call thee to what ought immediately to follow; thy unholiness and corruption. What a transition! And yet what more suited for meditation? The prophet Isaiah, who had been admitted to the view of a vision, like that which John the apostle saw in the after ages, beheld the glory of Christ, and heard those who cried, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts! and the effect was as is here related. His consternation was so great, concluding that he should be struck dead (agreeably to what holy men of old had conceived, that the sight of God would produce death), that he cried out, “Woe is me, I am undone.” Pause, my soul! thou art also “a man of unclean lips!” How dost thou hope to see the face of God in glory? How art thou prepared for such an overwhelming sight? Convinced of thy uncleanness, and convinced also that God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, neither can any evil dwell with him; how art thou looking for acceptance here by grace, and the everlasting acceptance and admittance of thy person hereafter in glory before God? Ponder the subject well, and consider, under this particular, as in every other, the blessedness of an union with Christ, and an interest in Christ. Here lie all thy hopes, all thy confidence, all thy security! Undone as thou art in thyself, and unclean as thy lips and thy whole nature are, by reason of sin, both from the original state in which thou wast conceived and born, and the actual transgressions which thou hast committed; yet looking up to the throne, in and through Jesus, thy Husband, thy Surety, thy Sponsor; here it is, my soul, and here alone, that thy confidence is well founded, and all thy hopes secure. And dost thou not feel a holy joy, a sweet undescribable delight, in contemplating the divine holiness; while contemplating, at the same time, thine own interest and right in the holiness of the Lord Jesus? Art thou not full of rapture in beholding the glory of God’s holiness, for which, rather than an atom of it should be tarnished by the sinner, the Son of God assumed the nature of his people, and died on the cross, to make atonement? And art thou not comforted in the blessed view, that God’s holiness hath received more glory, more honour, by the obedience and sacrifice of the Glory-man, Christ Jesus, than could have been given by the everlasting obedience of men and angels to all eternity? And say, moreover, dost thou not at times take delight in drawing nigh to the throne of grace, and offering thy poor feeble praises of “Holy, holy; holy, is the Lord God of Hosts,” when thou art approaching, and holding communion with God, in and through the holy Jesus, thy Redeemer? Oh! thou dear Emmanuel, in whom alone, and by whom alone, all my hopes and confidences are founded, I fall down at thy feet, and as the prophet cried out, so do I desire unceasingly to exclaim, “I am a man of unclean lips!” But do thou cause the iniquity to be taken away, and my sin to be purged, by the live coal, from thee, who art our new testament altar, and I shall be clean; for thou art the Lord my righteousness.
MORNING JUNE 26
“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way: before his works of old, I was set up from everlasting.”—Prov 8:22-23
Pause, my soul, over those most blessed words, and see what glories are contained in them. May God the Spirit glorify Christ to thy view while pondering these words! Who is it that speaks them? Is it not wisdom! Even Christ, the wisdom of God, as the apostle elsewhere calls him? But how was he possessed by the Lord, and how set up from everlasting? Not openly in the human form, that he was in the fulness of time to take upon him for the purpose of redemption; but, as it should seem, secretly, as subsisting in covenant engagements from everlasting. As Mediator, was it not? Not as yet made flesh, but if we may from another scripture draw the conclusion, “as the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature,” Col 1:15. What a glory, beheld in this view, doth this precious scripture, with all that follows it in the chapter, hold forth! The Son of God, in covenant engagements from everlasting, was in time to take into himself manhood, and from the union of both God and man become one Christ. Hence, from everlasting, wisdom, one of those natures, is set up and speaks as a person, not separate or distinct from the other nature of the Godhead, but as in union, and from both, forming in covenant settlements the one glorious Mediator. So that it is not wisdom, as a person, speaking, without subsisting in the Son of God, neither is it the Son of God without wisdom subsisting as such in him, but both forming one identical person, and that person the Mediator, whose name was then secret, but afterwards was to be called Wonderful, when by the open appearance of the Son of God, tabernacling in a body of flesh, redemption work from everlasting, covenanted for and agreed upon by the several persons of the Godhead, was to be completed. What a blessed contemplation is here opened, my soul, to thy diligent and humble inquiry. Here direct all thy researches; here let prayer ascend for divine teachings to guide thee; and here behold him, who in the after ages of his love, made an open display of himself, as the God-man, when he manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him; thus, as the wisdom-man, declaring himself as possessed by Jehovah in the beginning of his way, and set up before all worlds as Jehovah’s delight, while his delights were with the sons of men. Oh the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world began!
EVENING JUNE 26
“The Urim and the Thummim.”—Exod 28:30
There is somewhat very interesting in this account of “the Urim and the Thummim;” though in the present distance of time, we can at the best form nothing more than conjectures as to what it was. But through grace, and the teaching of the Holy Ghost, we can have clear views of what it meant. The general acceptations of the Hebrew words, are, lights and perfections. And as Aaron, as high priest, became a lively type of Christ, so, by bearing on his breastplate “the Urim and the Thummim,” there can be no difficulty in beholding Jesus represented as the light and perfection of his people. And as Aaron bare all the names of the people upon his breast, where “the Urim and Thummim” were worn; how delightful is it to see Jesus thus represented, as bearing all the persons of his redeemed, in his own light and perfection, when he goes in before the presence of God for us! Sweet and precious thought to the believer! And now the church cries out: “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm;” Song 8:6. And so important did this appear to Moses, when dying, that he expressly prayed, that “the Thummim and the Urim might be with Jehovah’s Holy One;” Deut 33:8. Now here we have at once the application of the whole; for who is Jehovah’s Holy One, but the Lord Jesus Christ? With him it eminently remained, and with him only. For during the captivity, it was lost with the temple, and was never again restored. But with Jesus, the continuance of it was everlasting, for he hath “an unchangeable priesthood, and is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Precious Lord Jesus! be thou “the Urim and the Thummim” to my soul; for thou art both the light and perfection of thy people, in grace here, and glory for ever.
MORNING JUNE 27
“I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.”—Rev 1:11
My soul, if the precious meditation of yesterday be not wholly gone off from thy poor forgetful mind this day, here is another blessed view to revive the thought afresh, in looking at the Mediator, as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, in the same covenant engagements. Jesus is indeed, as Rev 1:8 expresses it, the Alpha and Omega, as one with the Father, over all, God blessed for ever. But he is also here the Alpha and Omega, as the Mediator, both God and man. For he is the first and the last of all God’s thoughts, and in his covenant engagements, of all Jehovah’s work; for every thing in creation begins and concludes in him. From everlasting he was set up. So that though Adam was the first man openly, yet not the first man secretly, and as subsisting in covenant engagements. Here again, as was remarked before, and from an authority not to be disputed, “he is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature, that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Precious Jesus, be thou to me the Alpha and Omega. And as it is plain that Jehovah possessed thee as the glorious covenant head of thy people in the beginning of his way, and before his works of old, so cause me to possess thee as the all in all, the first and the last, the author and finisher of my salvation.
EVENING JUNE 27
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”—Phil 3:12
My soul! take the apostle for an example in thine evening’s meditation. Here he freely and fully confesseth himself, after all his attainments in the life of grace, to be far short of what he longed to attain. And observe the aim of the apostle: all his pursuit, and all his desire was, like an arrow shot at a mark, to apprehend Christ, as Christ had first apprehended him: to grasp Jesus, as the Lord Jesus had held, and did hold him. Happy desire! happy pursuit! and blessed mark of grace! For let the Lord have given out to the soul ever so largely, there is more to give out, more to be received, more to be enjoyed. And the Holy Ghost, who is leading a child of God out of himself, more and more, to lead him more and more to the enjoyment of Jesus, is sweetly training that precious soul, and advancing him to the highest lessons in the school of grace. Paul felt this, when he cried out, “Not that I have already attained, either were already perfect.” To be sure not: for if we thought we had enough of Christ, it would be more than half conviction that we had nothing at all. Now, my soul, learn from Paul, in what the life of God in the soul consists: to be always pursuing the person of Jesus, for the farther enjoyment of him; never sitting down satisfied with what is already attained; but “pressing (as the apostle did) towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus:” in short, to make Christ the sum, the substance, the all of every desire; and ever to keep in remembrance, that the more we receive, the more Jesus hath to impart; the more he gives out, the more he is glorified; and, like some rich spring, the oftener we receive from him, the more rich and full he flows: Oh the blessedness of such a state! What a heaven upon earth would it be, if closely followed! To be always living upon Jesus, coming to Jesus, thirsting after Jesus; and the more we receive out of him, and of him, to have the soul’s desires after him the more increased by all we enjoy. Precious Lord! grant me this felicity, that, like Paul, I may say, “Not as though I had already attained:” but all my longings are, so to apprehend and hold fast Christ Jesus, as Christ Jesus hath apprehended and doth hold me fast.
MORNING JUNE 28
“Carry down the man a present.”—Gen 43:11
Ah, poor Jacob, how unconscious wert thou that this man, the governor of Egypt, was so near and dear to thee, and that his bowels yearned to tell thee how much he loved thee. And O ye sons of Israel, who would have had power to convince you while you were bowing down before Joseph under the dreadful apprehensions which agitated your minds, and he was assuming a voice of displeasure, that this very man was your brother? My soul, and what was all this, heightened to the greatest possible degree in the real love and affection of Joseph towards his family, compared to that love of Jesus which passeth knowledge? Jesus is thy brother, and he is the governor, not of Egypt only, but of heaven and earth. The famine, it is true, is sore in the land, and to him thou must go for sustenance, or thou wilt perish for ever. But wilt thou carry down the man a present? My soul, what hast thou to carry? Not thy duties, nor thy prayers, thine alms, thy righteousness; these are all filthy rags. Besides, he to whom thou goest needeth not the gifts and offerings of his creatures. His terms are, without money and without price. Go then, my soul, poor and wretched as thou art, go to him with a broken and a contrite heart, for that he will not despise. And O what a volume of mercies, blessings, and graces is contained in that one word of his, when he shall say, I am Jesus, your brother! Precious Jesus, I would say, thou art indeed a brother born for adversity. “Thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise, and all thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.”
EVENING JUNE 28
“And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth, say, come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”—Rev 22:17
My soul, doth not the evening bell, which calleth to the ordinance, in all its melodious sounds, seem to express these gracious invitations? Wilt thou not attend? Private meditation is indeed sweet; but public ordinances are of more avail. “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob!” What a blessed sight is it to see the house of God well filled! What a refreshment to my poor weary sin-sick soul, to hear Jesus in his word saying, “Come unto me, all ye that are weary, and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And every part and portion of the service proclaims the gospel cry:—”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.” Isa 55:1. And do observe, my soul, how, in the close of scripture, the invitation is repeated; as if to leave the impression fresh and lasting upon every soul. Yea, the Spirit confirms it; “come,” is the call of the Holy Ghost; “come,” is the call of the whole church, the bride, the Lamb’s wife; yea, every one that heard of the free, and full, and glorious salvation; the angels, the ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation, they join the pressing invitation, and cry, “come.” And surely every thirsty soul will not cease to say the same, for whoever the Lord the Spirit hath made “willing in the day of his power,” may come in the day of his grace. And if Jesus, with his great salvation, be welcome to his heart, that heart is welcome to come to Jesus. My soul, with what a cloud of witnesses is the church of the living God encompassed; and how many and numerous are the invitations of grace! Wilt thou not then, in return, echo to the cry, and hasten thy Redeemer’s coming, in the same earnest language? Come, Lord Jesus! to thy bride, the church, and be thou to all thy redeemed the water of life, and the fountain of life; until thou take home thy church, which is here below, to join thy church above, that they may unitedly dwell together, in the light of thy countenance for evermore!
MORNING JUNE 29
“And they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance, and found him not.”—Luke 2:44- 45
May we not gather a lesson of sweet instruction from the anxious and fruitless search the parents made for Jesus in the days of his flesh? What kinsfolks and acquaintances shall we now search among for the Saviour? My soul, how little of Jesus is to be found in this Christless generation! What parlour conversation makes mention of his name? Is it not plain and evident, from the general, nay almost universal silence observed in all companies concerning his name, and offices, and characters, and relations, that Christ is not there? Shall we seek him among the professors of the gospel? Who are they that honour Jesus? Not they who deny his Godhead; not they who deny the influences of his Holy Spirit; not they who set up their own righteousness as part, or the whole of their justification before God. Jesus is not in that house, in that family, in that heart, among that people who live in sensuality, profaneness, and impiety. Where shall we seek Jesus? Blessed Lord, mine eyes are unto thee to be taught. I would say unto thee, in the language of the church, “Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon. Oh when I shall find thee without, I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother’s house, who would instruct me; and I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.”
EVENING JUNE 29
“Let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”—1 Cor 5:8
My soul, hast thou duly considered the unsuitableness of all leaven to mix up with the unleavened bread of the gospel of Jesus? Whatever sours, and gives a principle of taint to the mind, is indeed a leaven, carefully to be avoided. And “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump!” So that it was expressly enjoined, in the divine precept of the law, on the passover, that “there should be no leaven found in their houses; the soul that did eat of it was to be cut off from the congregation.” Exod 12:19. Sweet instruction, couched under the prohibition! With Jesus there is to be no mixture; nothing of creature leaven, of selfwill, or self-righteousness to mingle. My soul, thou hast been at the gospel feast, and sat with Jesus at his table. Surely thou hast kept the feast then, as here enjoined, and allowed nothing of leaven, in the old nature or in the new, to be with thee. Oh! the blessedness of thus receiving Christ with “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth!” Oh! the felicity of receiving a broken Christ into a broken heart; preciously feeding upon his body broken, and his blood shed, as the sole, the only, the all-sufficient means of salvation by faith! Oh! Lamb of God! keep thy table sacred from all leaven, both in the persons approaching it, and the offerings made upon it. Let not the children’s bread be received, or given to the leaven of hypocrisy and wickedness; but let all who meet around thy board be of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth! And do thou, Lord, come into thy house, to thy table, to thy people; and let each for himself hear, and joyfully accept the invitation of the kind Master: “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved!” [Song 5:1]
MORNING JUNE 30
“In thee the fatherless findeth mercy.”—Hos 14:3
Sweet thought! In Jesus, and the relationship which he hath condescended to place himself in, all his poor followers may find a supply to fill up every vacancy. My soul, contemplate Jesus in this blessed feature of character. What relation do we need? The fatherless are commanded to look to him whose name is the everlasting Father. The motherless also; for he hath said, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort thee.” Doth death make a breach between the husband and the wife? Then the scripture saith, “Thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name.” Are we friendless? “Jesus is the friend that loveth at all times, that sticketh closer than a brother.” In short, there is no situation among the affinities of life, the kinder charities of nature, but what Jesus fills and infinitely transcends all. Pause, my soul, over this view of Jesus, and behold how he graciously proposeth himself to supply all wants, and to fill all vacancies. Jesus is both the Father, the Friend, the Brother, the Husband, the whole in one of all relationships and of all connexions. And amidst all the changes, the fluctuating circumstances of human affairs, the frailties, and infirmities of our own hearts and the hearts of others, which sometimes separate chief friends, what a blessed thought it is; “Nothing can separate from the love of Christ!” Precious Lord, give me to cry out with the church, under the full assurance of thine unalterable love; “This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
EVENING JUNE 30
“With the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.”—1 Thess 4:16
Before I drop into the arms of sleep, I would call upon my soul to ponder these words. I know not, each night, when retiring to rest, whether my next awakening may not be “with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” As what may be my state in this particular, and hath been the state of many (for the hour of a man’s death is to all intents and purposes the day of judgment) becomes an infinitely momentous concern; how can I better close the day and the month together, than by a few moments’ consideration of the solemn event? What is meant by “the voice of the archangel?” I do not recollect the name of the archangel being mentioned any where beside in scripture, except Jude 9, and here, as well as there, the person spoken of is but one. We have no authority to say, archangels; yea, it should seem, from what the apostle Jude hath said concerning the archangel, in calling him Michael (if compared with the vision of Daniel, Dan 10:21, and also with what is said in the book of the Revelations, Rev 12:7.) that it means the person of Christ. Jesus himself hath said, that “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and all that are in their graves shall come forth.” John 5:25-28. At any rate, if the Holy Ghost speak but of one, and there be but the shadow of a probability that that one is Christ, it becomes very faulty to join others in the name, by making the word plural. With respect to “the trump of God,” we may understand, that as the law was given with solemn splendour and glory on mount Sinai, so the consummation of all things will testify the divine presence. My soul, meditate on these things; give thyself wholly to the frequent consideration of them. And, by the lively actings of faith upon the person of thy Lord, contemplate thy personal interest in all the blessedness of this great day of God. If this “voice of the archangel,” be indeed the voice of Jesus, and thou knowest now by grace thy oneness and union with him, shall not the very thought give thee holy joy? It is true, indeed, the day will be solemn, yea, profoundly solemn. But it is equally true, that it will be glorious to all the redeemed. And if the Lord Jesus commanded his disciples to look up, and lift up their heads with holy joy, when their redemption drew nigh, shall we not suppose that it must be pleasing to the mind of our God and Saviour that we welcome and hail the fulfilment of it? Yea, must it not be pleasing to our God and Father, that we believe in his Son Jesus Christ to this day of eternal salvation? We find the apostles thus encouraging the faithful. Paul tells Titus to be “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13. Surely, if the hope be blessed, and the appearing of Jesus, as the Redeemer of his people, glorious; our souls should triumph in the expectation. Peter goes one step farther, and bids the church not only to be looking but hasting unto the coming of it; as souls well assured of their safety in Jesus; and therefore to cry out with holy faith, “Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!” 2 Pet 3:12. What sayest thou, my soul, to these things? Are they blessed? Are thy hopes thus going forth in desires after Christ’s coming? Oh! the blessedness of falling asleep each night, in the sleep of nature, in the perfect assurance of a oneness with Christ? And Oh! the blessedness of falling asleep in Jesus, when the Lord gives the signal for the sleep of death! All the intervening lapse of time, from death to this hour of the “voice of the archangel,” is totally lost to the body, like the unconscious lapse of time to the labouring man of health, whose sleep each night is sweet. When the patriarchs, of their different ages, arise at “the trump of God,” their bodies will be equally unconscious whether the sleep hath been for one night, or several thousand years. Think, my soul, of these solemn but precious things. Frequently meditate with holy joy and faith, upon this great day of God. Recollect that it is Jesus who comes to take thee home. And having long redeemed thee by his blood, he then will publicly acknowledge thee for his own, and present thee to the Father and himself, as a part of his glorious church, “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but to be for ever without blame before him in love.”
MORNING JULY 1
“Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth.”—Song1:3
Why, my Lord, is thy name so truly blessed, but because thou hast so endeared it to thy redeemed, by every tie which can gain the affections. Didst thou, even before I had being, enter into suretyship engagements for me, that thou wouldest redeem me when fallen, that thouwouldest take my nature, live for me, die for me, become a sacrifice for me, shed thy blood for me, wash me in thy blood, clothe me with thy righteousness, justify me before God and thy Father, become my Advocate, High Priest, Intercessor, betroth me to thyself here in grace, and everlastingly unite me to thyself in glory hereafter? Didst thou do all this, and art thou still doing it, making my cause thine own, and following me with love, and grace, and mercy, every day, and all day, and wilt never thou leave me nor forsake me? And must not thy name be as ointment poured forth? Can there be a savour as sweet, as fragrant, as full of odour, as the name of Jesus? Precious ointments, it is true, have a smell in them very grateful; but what savour can be like that which to the spiritual senses manifests Jesus in his person, love, grace, and mercy; in whom there is every thing desirable, and nothing but what is lovely; all beauty, power, wisdom, strength, an assemblage of graces more full of odour than all the spices of the east? Precious Lord Jesus, let thy name be written in my heart, and let every thing but Jesus be for ever obliterated there, that nothing may arise from thence, but what speaks of thee; that through life and in death, the first and the last, and all that drops from my lips, even in the separation of soul and body, Jesus may form in the close of grace here, and in the first opening of glory to follow, the one only blessed precious name, as ointment poured forth.
EVENING JULY 1
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man, came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”—Dan 7:13-14
Bless the Lord, my soul, who giveth thee “songs in the night,” from the night visions of the prophet. Read this sweet scripture, explained as it is, most fully and completely, by the evangelists, in their account of Jesus, as “the Son of man;” and what a wonderful coincidence and agreement is there between them! It is in the human nature of the Lord Christ, that the glories of this kingdom shine so full and resplendent. “The Ancient of Days” can be no other than God the Father, who is truly the Ancient of Days, being self-existent, and from everlasting to everlasting. And the Son of God, as God, one with the Father, is the same from all eternity. But here he is spoken of as the Christ of God, and particularly revealed to Daniel, in the visions of the night, as “the Son of man.” Ponder this well, my soul. Contemplate the dominion, glory, and kingdom given to Jesus, in thy nature. Recollect also, in the moment of thy meditation, that it is by virtue of this nature, united to the Godhead, that the exercise of all sovereignty, wisdom, and power, is carried on, and Christ’s kingdom established for ever. It saith, in this scripture, that these things were givento him. They could not have been given to him as God; for all things were his before: but as Christ, the Son of man; the Son of God having taken into union with the Godhead our nature, became one Christ, and as such, received them. And what endears the subject, in the greatness and everlasting nature of it is, that Jesus is all this in our nature. For here it is that that sweet scripture unfolds all its beauty: “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; because he is the Son of man!” John 5:26-27. Mark the peculiar blessedness of the expression, for the meditation is most sweet. Jesus, as Jesus Mediator, hath life in himself. He doth not hold it as at pleasure, or like creatures, which, because once given, may be taken away. It is in himself in the human nature, because that human nature is taken in, united to, and become one with the Godhead, and therefore not liable to be recalled. Pause over this subject, this glorious, blessed, joyful subject! Thy Jesus, my soul, hath life in himself, in his human nature, because he is the Son of man. Think, then, of thine everlasting safety in him; and thine unceasing glory from him: for he saith himself, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” Hallelujah. Amen, Amen.
MORNING JULY 2
“And thou shalt not be for another man; so will I also be for thee.”—Hos 3:3
My soul, was not God the Holy Ghost representing, by the similitude of his servant the prophet’s marriage with an adulteress, the astonishing marriage of Jesus with our nature, and his personal union with every individual of his church and people? Look at this scripture, and see how sweetly it points to Jesus. The prophet was commanded to love this woman beloved of her friend, and yet an adulteress. He was to buy her also to himself: and he was to charge her to abide with him, and not to play the harlot any more, saying unto her: “And thou shalt not be for another man, so will I also be for thee.” Precious Jesus, do I not behold thee in all this? Can any thing more strikingly shadow forth thy grace, thy mercy, thy love, to thy people? Was not our whole nature estranged from thee, when thou camest down from heaven to seek and save that which was lost? Were not all in a state of daring adultery, when thou hadst from everlasting betrothed thyself to us, in standing up our glorious Husband and Surety? And how striking the expression: “Then said the Lord unto me, go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend!” Surely at the command of God thy Father, and not uncalled, unsent, unauthorized, didst thou come. Our nature was indeed yet beloved of thee, our best and dearest friend, though in a state of spiritual adultery, and wholly gone away from thee. Yes, blessed Jesus! in defiance of all our multiplied transgressions, it might be truly said, we were yet beloved of thee our Friend and Brother, born for adversity: for thou wert then, as now, unchangeable in thy love, the same Jesus yesterday, today, and for ever. And surely, Lord, in another feature the prophet shadowed thee forth; for as he purchased the harlot, so thou, Lord, before we became thine, didst purchase us by thy blood. And dost thou now say to me this day: “Abide with me, and thou shalt not be for another man, so will I also be for thee?” Oh condescending God! Oh precious, lovely, all loving Saviour! Lord, make me thine; yea, altogether thine! Let my whole soul, and body, and spirit be all thine, both by the conquests of thy grace, as they are justly thine, and by the purchase of thy blood, that never, never more, I may depart from thee, but with the same full consent as the church of old, I may exult in this blessed assurance, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.”
EVENING JULY 2
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”—Heb 5:14
My soul! of what age art thou in the divine life? It is high time to inquire: high time to know. And the information is not far to attain, if thou dost wish it. A state of full age not only can receive, and relish the strong meat of the gospel, but really desires it, longs for it, and can be satisfied with nothing else. And what is the strong meat of the gospel? Surely the person, the work, the glory, the grace, the love, the every thing that is in Jesus, which belongs to Jesus, and flows from Jesus. And depend upon it, that if thy spiritual senses are so frequently exercised upon Jesus, as to relish this food, to delight in it, yea, to loath all else, there will be a sweet savour of Jesus in thy whole life and conversation. And in the exact proportion that thou takest a fulness of this spiritual food, so may thine age be estimated. All we hear, all we see, all we read of, or meet with, of Jesus, will be food to the soul. Jesus is as the sweet flower of the field: and faith, like the bee, gathers from it, and brings home, both the golden honey and the wax to the hive, and lives upon it: so that then Christ is in the heart, dwells in the heart, as the apostle terms it, by faith, and is “formed in the heart the hope of glory.” Now, where there is no fulness of age, yea, no age at all, not a babe in Christ, nor even born again, the strong meat of the gospel can neither be received, taken in, nor enjoyed. An unawakenedheart is not only incapable of strong meat, but is disgusted at it. Persons of this kind may hear of Jesus, and apparently, for the time seem pleased. For as all men, when they die, would desire to go to heaven, so a discourse about it, may amuse, as a subject at a distance. But there is nothing within them, with which the subject can incorporate: no digestive powers to receive such strong meat; and consequently no relish. A shower of rain in a dry season may wet the surface, but if it soak not to the root, the plants find no good. My soul! what saith thine experience to these things? Hath the Lord so manifested himself to thee in all his glory, that nothing short of Jesus can satisfy thee? Hast thou found a transforming power accompanying this view of Jesus, so that, by faith, his glory hath excited thy desires to partake of him? And do the daily hopes which arise from such thoughts and views of thy Lord, so give rest, comfort, and joy to thee, that these refreshments are like “the spiced wine of the pomegranate?” Blessed Redeemer! may I be able to ascertain the real ripeness of my age by testimonies like these; and sure I am, in this view and enjoyment of Jesus, I shall find cause to give thanks, yea, unceasing thanks, to “God and the Father, who thus maketh us meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light.”
MORNING JULY 3
“Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.”—1 Tim 1:5
See, my soul, what Jesus hath secured for thee by his gracious undertaking and accomplishment, and which his servant was commissioned to tell the church, was the very end of the commandment; namely, charity, or love. And this law of love is given thee, that thou mightest manifest whose thou art, and to whom thou dost belong; not as a rule of acceptance, for then that would be to make thy love a covenant of works; but as a sweet testimony of thy affection in the hand of Jesus. It is a law of love indeed, because the cords of love, by which thou art drawn, prove it to be so. Thy obedience is not from slavish fear, for then this would be bondage; but the love of Christ constrains thee. Thy love to him makes thee long to be like him. Thy love to him makes his commandments not grievous but gracious. Thy love to him makes ordinances precious, because Jesus is the whole of them. And thy love to him makes all that belongs to him dear, and in which Jesus requires thy proofs of affection; not in thy strength, as the poor Israelites were demanded to make brick without straw, but by living in thee, and working in thee, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Here, my soul, thou truly findest strength and grace equal to thy day. The end of every commandment, as well as the beginning, is love; for it begins in Jesus, is carried on in Jesus, and ends in Jesus, and he is all love. And in him, and by him, the conscience, the heart, faith, all are kept pure, undefiled, and unfeigned, because love in Jesus is at the bottom; like the chariot of Solomon, paved with love. Oh thou glorious pattern of all holiness, make me like thyself!
EVENING JULY 3
“The waters of Jordan.”—Josh 4:23
The sacred streams of Jordan, so often and so highly celebrated in the word of God, open a very blessed subject for meditation. Sit down, my soul, by the side of that ancient river, and call to mind the faith exercised on that memorable spot by the multitude of the faithful gone before, who were heirs with thyself of the promises; and see, whether the Holy Ghost will not graciously, this evening, make thy meditation sweet? Recollect, as thou viewest the hallowed ground, that here it was, in this river, Jesus received the first public testimony from God the Father; and the first open display of the descent of God the Holy Ghost. Here Jehovah began to magnify the Lord Christ. And here, in ages before, had the Lord begun to magnify that memorable type of Jesus, his servant Joshua. And as, from the baptism of Jesus at this sacred river, the Lamb of God opened his divine commission, so here Joshua, his type, commenced his ministry. From hence he led the people to the promised land. And from hence Jesus, in the baptism of his Holy Spirit, leads his redeemed to the possession of the everlasting Canaan, in heaven. There is, indeed, a double view of our Lord’s ministry, in these waters of Jordan; not only of baptism, as introductory to the wilderness-state of temptation that follows to all his people; but also, as the close of the wilderness-dispensation, in the Jordan of death, when, finally and fully, Jesus leads them through, to their immortal possessions. And as the children of Israel had been exercised for forty years together, through a waste and howling wilderness, until they came to Jordan, which opened a passage to them of life and liberty, to a land flowing with milk and honey; so the followers of the Lord Jesus, having passed through the pilgrimage of this world, amidst the various assaults of sin and Satan, pass through the Jordan of death, conducted and secured by their almighty leader, unto the possession of that kingdom of glory and happiness which is above. Pause, my soul, over the review! behold, by faith, the wonderful events which passed here. In this sacred river, once rested the ark of the covenant of the Lord of the whole earth. Here Jesus, whom the ark represented, was baptised. Here Israel passed over. And here, my soul, must thou pass over in the hour of death. Oh! how sweet and blessed, in the swellings of Jordan, to behold Jesus, and hear his well-known voice, “Fear not; for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name: thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee!”
MORNING JULY 4
“I am among you as he that serveth.”—Luke 22:27
Surely there is a blessedness in these words that affords substance to feed upon. My soul, read them again and again; pause over them, pray over them, and look up to him that thus so humbly, graciously, and lovingly, expressed himself. Art thou, blessed Jesus, among thy people as he that serveth? I know, Lord, that thou didst condescend to become the servant of Jehovah, though thou wert Lord of all, when for the salvation of poor sinners thou didst undertake to veil thy Godhead, and in our nature to become our surety. And I know, Lord, also, that thou didst, in a very memorable moment, and at a time when as the evangelist had it to relate to the church, thou knewest that the Father had given all things into thine hands, thou didst condescend to wash thy disciples feet. But art thou still among thy people as one that serveth? Be astonished, O heavens, and wonder, O earth! All power is thine in heaven and in earth. And is Jesus among his people, among his redeemed ones, his exercised ones, as he that serveth? Pause again, my soul—meditate upon the blessed gracious words. Was there not a circumstance of trial, when Christ was upon earth, but what he felt in his human nature, when fulfilling all righteousness? Then will it follow, that there cannot be a circumstance of trial which his members now feel, but what he knows; nay, what he appoints. And if he appoints it, is he not looking on; nay, measuring out suited strength, suited grace, as the circumstances shall require? And if all this be in Jesus, now and every minute event both his ordering, supporting under, carrying through, crowning in all, is he not, though Lord of all, servant of all; and doth he not now say to every poor disciple in the present moment, as fully as he did to them in the garden with him, “I am among you as he that serveth?” My Lord and my God, would I cry out, under the same conscious shame of my dreadful unbelief, as Thomas did under his Yes, Lord, thou art still ministering, still serving! And though I lose sight of thee in a thousand and ten thousand instances, where nothing but thy imparted strength could carry me through; yet plain and most evident it is, that in all the blessings of thy finished redemption, thou thyself art giving out, and serving up, grace to thy people. Thou didst first purchase all blessings with thy blood; and now thou ever livest to see them administered by thy Spirit. Precious Jesus, thou art ever with me. By and by I shall be with thee, I shall see thee as thou art, and shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.
EVENING JULY 4
“A wedding garment.”—Matt 22:11
My soul! let this evening’s meditations be directed to the subject proposed in these few words: “a wedding garment.” Very many are the instructions which the passage contains. The Lord Jesus is representing, under the similitude of a wedding feast, the rich provision God the Father had made in the gospel, on account of the marriage of his dear Son with our nature. And most beautiful, indeed, is the representation. For what feast, in point of fulness, richness, and satisfaction, can come up to that which is furnished for the poor, needy, and perishing circumstances of famished and dying sinners? This feast of fat things (as the scripture calls it) is indeed a rich feast, a royal feast, and a true wedding feast: for as Jesus, on whose account it is made, hath united our nature in general to himself, so hath he united each individual of that nature in particular to himself, who is truly, and in reality, made a partaker of it. But the parable supposes (which, though not said, is implied) that the rich and bountiful Donor not only provides a feast for the hungry, but a covering for the naked; and that the very entrance to his table is inadmissible without this wedding garment being accepted, put on, and worn by every individual who partakes of the supper. The case is here stated of one unworthy creature (and that one is a representative of all in like circumstances) who, when the King came in to see the guests, was found deficient of this covering. My soul! pause over this part. This man, it should seem, was not observed by any around him. He had come in with the crowd, and gained admittance with the rest. It was only when the King came in, that he was discovered, and that by the King himself. What a volume of instruction is contained in this short representation? So Jesus comes in the midst of his churches. He presides at his table. Every individual is seen, is known by him, with every secret motive for which each cometh. It should seem, that at this supper there were great multitudes present, and but one without a wedding garment. And yet that one could not be hidden from the King’s eye. My soul! while this furnisheth a subject for awful consideration, so doth it no less for joyful thought. Hast thou been at this gospel feast? Wert thou clothed in this wedding garment? Surely, if so, thou art not at a loss to know. If the feast and the garment were both of the King’s providing, thou must know whether thou camest to be clothed as well as fed; and whether the Lord, that provided the food, gave thee also raiment? Say then, when Jesus invited thee to his supper, didst thou go to it, as those in the highway, poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind? And while he bade thee come, didst thou regard his counsel; and buy of him, as he had said, without money, and without price, “white raiment, that thou mightest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness should not appear?” Rev 3:18. Oh it is blessed, very blessed, to go hungry to such a feast, and clothed in the wedding garment of Jesus’s righteousness, and have the robe put on by God the Holy Ghost. Sure will be the acceptance, and gracious the reception, to every poor, famishing, naked, sinner, that thus comes to the gospel feast. Do remark, my soul, one circumstance more in this man’s case. It doth not appear that he was naked; for then it would have been said so; and, if conscious of it, the bountiful Lord that made the feast would have clothed him. He had a garment, but not a wedding garment. One of his own providing; like those who have a righteousness of their own, of whom the Lord elsewhere speaks: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin;” Isa 30:1. Precious Lord Jesus! clothe me with the wedding garment of thy righteousness; and feed me with the rich food of thy body and blood; yea, Lord! be thou my covering, my joy, my all; that when at thy church, at thy table, at thine house of prayer below, and at thine kingdom of glory above, the King cometh in to see his guests, my soul may cry out, in thine own blessed words, and with a joy unspeakable and full of glory: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels;”Isa 61:10.
MORNING JULY 5
“Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.”—Deut 22:11
Though the true believer, who like the king’s daughter is all glorious within, cannot but know, that as meat commendeth us not to God, so neither doth the necessary dress, which, since the fall, is become suited to cover our sinful bodies, make a part of our holy faith; yet it is highly proper, that persons professing godliness should use great plainness of apparel. The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, we are told, is of great price in the sight of God. But who should have thought that such a precept as this of Moses had a gospel signification! And yet as Christ was preached under types and figure through the whole law, we may reasonably suppose that not a single command was then given but what had an eye to him and his great salvation. But if we find the Lord so strict respecting the outward dress of the body, what may we conclude the Lord would enjoin respecting the inward clothing of the soul? If woolen and linen were offensive to be worn together, surely, we cannot appear before God in the motley dress of Jesus’s righteousness and our own. The fine linen, scripture saith, is the righteousness of saints. With this, which Jesus puts on his people, nothing of our own woolen garments must be worn. The righteousness of a creature, had we any, which in fact we have none, cannot be suited to mix with the righteousness of the Creator. And no man that is wise for salvation, would put the old piece of our corrupt and worn out nature upon the new garment of the renewed nature in Christ Jesus. When therefore the Lord saith, “thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts;” my heart replies, no, Lord! let me be clothed with the robe of thy righteousness, and the garment of thy salvation; then shall I be found suited for the marriage supper, when the King comes in to see his guests at his table.
EVENING JULY 5
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience, by the things which he suffered.”—Heb 5:8
My soul! behold what a precious verse of scripture is here! How blessedly doth it set forth thy Redeemer! See here what an example Jesus shews to all his people, and how sweetly accommodating is that example to every case and circumstance, into which any of them can be brought! Surely, if any might have done without going into such a school of suffering, for the purpose of learning, it must have been Jesus; but yet even Jesus would not. And wouldestthou, my soul, after such an illustrious pattern, desire to be excused? Hath not Jesus dignified it, and made it blessed? Oh! the honour of following his steps. There is another beauty in this scripture. The apostle, in a verse or two preceding, took notice of Jesus in his human nature, that he sought not, as such, the high priest’s office uncalled. “Christ (saith he) glorified not himself, to be made an high priest, but was called of God, as was Aaron.” And by reading this verse in connection with that, it is as if the apostle had said, ‘Yea, such was the wonderful condescension of the Son of God, in his divine nature, that, though of the same nature and essence with the Father, yet would he have his human nature trained up in all the exercises of suffering; that, by a fellow feeling, his people might know how he understood their exercises by his own.’ Oh! thou gracious, condescending Lord! Surely nothing can soften sorrow like the consciousness that thou hast known it in our nature for thy people; and nothing can moreeffectually reconcile all thine afflicted members, humbly and patiently to learn obedience in the school of suffering, as that Jesus, though a Son, and the Son of God, in the eternity of his nature, was pleased, in his human nature, “to learn obedience by the things which he suffered.”
MORNING JULY 6
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.”—Rom 8:37
“More than conquerors!” mark that, my soul. Conquerors all the soldiers of Jesus must be, for in his strength they fight, and he has himself subdued all our foes, even death, the last enemy, and Satan, whom the God of peace will bruise under our feet shortly. So that victory is sure. For we overcome by the blood of the Lamb, by the sword of the Spirit, and by the shield of faith, whereby we subdue all the fiery darts of the wicked. But though conquerors, how are we more than conquerors? Yes, through him that loved us, believers absolutely conquer him that is himself unconquerable. For, by union with Jesus, we may be said to have power with God, and to prevail. “I will not let thee go,” said the praying Jacob, “except thou bless me.” A blessing he came for, and a blessing he would have. So all the praying seed of Jacob have power through the blood and righteousness of Jesus, in like manner. Hence Jesus saith to his church: “Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me.” Sweet and precious thought, my soul, never lose sight of it. Through him that loved thee, and gave himself for thee, thou art more than conqueror: nay, thy present victories are more than the victories of the church in heaven. For they have now no more conflicts with tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword; but, by him that loved us, we arise above the midst of them now, and while troubled on every side, we are not distressed; while perplexed, are not in despair. The love of Jesus is seen in these very exercises, and that in very love, and very faithfulness, the Lord causeth us to be afflicted. Hence, through him we conquer them; nay, we are more than conquerors. We love him that sends the affliction, because we discover his love in it; and as without that affliction, the love of our Jesus in sending it would in that instance not have been known, therefore here we have a blessed victory the church above cannot know. Precious Jesus! to thy love, however, and thy grace, be all the praise and all the glory; for under thy banner of love alone it is that we are more than conquerors.
EVENING JULY 6
“A sheaf of the firstfruits.”—Lev 23:10
This was a most interesting service in the Jewish church, and full of gospel mercies; when the Lord appointed “a sheaf of the firstfruits” of their harvest to be brought before him, and waved towards heaven, as a token that all fruits were of the Lord, and that he was both the giver and proprietor of all. And it hath reference to the person of Christ, both in his death and resurrection. For “a lamb of the first year, without blemish,” was to be offered as a burnt-offering with it, to testify that the death of Jesus sanctifies and sweetens all; and Christ himself, in his resurrection, is the “firstfruits of them that sleep.” My soul! dost thou observe this Jewish service in a gospel dress? Surely, the service is a reasonable service, and, if possible, more heightened now than then. When this law was given, the Israelite had no power to perform it; neither indeed was it intended to be observed, until the people arrived in Canaan. There was neither tilling of land, nor sowing of seed, in the wilderness; for the people were victualled by the immediate bounty of heaven; and we are told, that they ate the manna until that they came to Canaan. But when they were settled in the land which the Lord had promised them, and God gave them “fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness,” surely it was meet thus to acknowledge God in his providences, as the providence of God had owned and blessed them. What sayest thou to it, my soul? Here was Jesus in the sheaf of the firstfruits. Here was the Father’s blessing, acknowledged in the gift of Jesus. Here was Jesus represented in the lamb, which accompanied the service. Here was the waving it towards heaven, and a prohibition not to eat bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until God’s portion had been first offered! Oh! my soul, wilt thou not learn hence, to trace Jesus in every one of thy blessings, and to bless thy God and Father for a sanctified use of every thing in Jesus! Help me, Lord, I pray thee, in my heart, in my house, in the field, in the city, in the church, in the closet, in the world, in the family, to be for ever waving before my God, “the sheaf of the firstfruits” in all his bounties. In Jesus I have all; in Jesus would I enjoy all; and then shall I most assuredly have that sweet promise for ever fulfilling in my heart: “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine;” Prov 3:9-10.
MORNING JULY 7
“Hope deferred, maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”—Prov13:12
Surely, my Lord and Saviour is the sum and substance of this sweet verse! For art thou not the hope of Israel, and the Saviour thereof? And if thou deferrest giving to my soul renewed views of thy pardoning love, or withholdest the renewed visits and manifestations of thy grace, will not my soul languish and my whole heart be sick? Can I, dear Lord, continue for a moment in health of soul without thee? And art thou not my desire, when thou art the desire of all nations? And when thou comest to my soul in all thy freeness, fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency, art thou not the very tree of life in the paradise of God? Precious, precious Jesus! give me to sit down under thy shadow with great delight, for surely thy fruit is sweet to my taste. Do not defer thy blessed visit to my soul this morning, for thou knowest, Lord, that though, through thy grace, that sickness of sin which is unto death, thou hast already cured by the application of thy blood and righteousness; yet there is a sickness not unto death, and which my soul will pine and languish under, unless thou renewest me from day to day. Oh, blessed Jesus, I want every moment fresh manifestations, renewed discoveries of thy presence, grace, and favour. I want to know thee more, to love thee more, to live to thee more; and the deferring these precious mercies maketh my heart sick. Come then, thou blessed Lord, with all thy fulness; my desires are to thee, and to the remembrance of thy name. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; and now, with the first dawn of day, would I seek thee early. And surely, when thou comest, as I know thou wilt come, thou wilt be in deed and in truth the tree of life. Methinks my soul is now opened by thee for thy reception; and therefore, Lord, do thou now make such rich discoveries of thy person, glory, grace, and love, as may fill every portion of my heart; nay, Lord, I pray to feel such goings forth of my poor soul, in waiting for thy coming, that, like the queen of Sheba, overpowered in the view of the riches and wisdom of Solomon, my views of thy condescending grace, and a sense of my unworthiness to be so blessed of my God, may melt my whole soul before thee; and, like her, there may be no more spirit in me from such ravishing enjoyments of thy presence.
EVENING JULY 7
“Jesus wept.”—John 11:35
My soul! look at thy Redeemer in this account of him. Was there ever a more interesting portrait than what the evangelist hath here drawn of the Son of God? If the imagination were to be employed for ever in forming an interesting scene of the miseries of human nature, what could furnish so complete a picture as these two words give of Christ, at the sight of them? “Jesus wept.” Here we have at once the evidence how much the miseries of our nature affected the heart of Jesus; and here we have the most convincing testimony, that he partook of all the sinless infirmities of our nature, and was truly, and in all points, man, as well as God. We are told by one of the ancient writers (as well as I recollect, it was St. Chrysostom) that some weak but injudicious Christians in his days, were so rash as to strike this verse out of their bibles, from an idea, that it was unsuitable and unbecoming in the Son of God to weep. But we have cause to bless the overruling providence of God, that though they struck it out from their bibles, they did it not from ours. It is blessed to us to have it preserved, for it affords one of the most delightful views we can possibly have of the affectionate heart of Jesus, in feeling for the sorrows of his people. And methinks, had they judged aright, they would have thought, that if it were unsuitable or unbecoming in Jesus to weep, it would have been more so to put on the appearance of it. And why those groans at the grave of Lazarus, if tears were improper? Precious Lord! how refreshing is it to my soul the consideration, that, “Forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, thou likewise didst take part of the same; that in all things it behoved thee to be made like to thy brethren!” Hence, when my poor heart is afflicted, when Satan storms, or the world frowns, when sickness in myself, or when under bereaving providences for my friends, “all thy waves and storms seem to go over me;” Oh, what relief is it, to know that Jesus looks on, and sympathizes! Then do I say to myself, will not Jesus, who wept at the grave of Lazarus, feel for me? Shall I look up to him, and look up in vain? Did Jesus, when upon earth, know what those exercises were; and was his precious soul made sensible of distresses even to tears; and will he be regardless of what I feel, and the sorrows under which I groan? Oh no! the sigh that bursts in secret from my heart, is not secret to him; the tear that on my night couch, drops unperceived and unknown to the world, is known and numbered by him. Though now exalted at the right hand of power, where he hath wiped away all tears from off all faces, yet he himself still retains the feelings and the character of “the man of sorrows, and of one well acquainted with grief.” Help me, Lord, thus to look up to thee, and thus to remember thee! Oh! that blessed scripture; “In all their afflictions, he was afflicted; and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them, and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old,” Isa 63:9.
MORNING JULY 8
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen.”—Isa 43:10
Doth God indeed appeal to the souls of his people for the truth of his covenant love! Oh the gracious condescension! It is sweet, it is blessed, and a testimony enough to make the heart of every child of God that possesseth it to leap for joy, when the Spirit witnesseth to our spirits that we are the children of God. But it is still carrying on that blessedness with increasing delight, when the people of God themselves become witnesses of covenant love and faithfulness; and, from numberless experiences in themselves, can, and do set to their seals that God is true. See then, my soul, this morning, whether thou art one of thy God’s witnesses, and thy Redeemer, as the servant of Jehovah, witnesseth for thee, and by his sweet influences in thee, all that thine heart can wish concerning the word of his grace, and thy fellowship and communion with him. Run over a few leading points in which thou canst, and dost bear witness for thy God. Did he not remember thee in thy low estate, when he passed by, and bid thee live? Did he not convince thee of sin, and put a cry in thine heart of salvation? Did not God the Holy Ghost convincingly prove to thee, both the infinite glories and perfections of Jesus, and by his gracious leadings constrain thee to a love towards him, dependence upon him, and a perfect approbation of having him for thy Saviour? Did not Jesus so graciously visit thee, shew thee his love, his tenderness, his power, his suitableness, his all-sufficiency, as to warm all thy frozen affections into a warmth for him and attachment to him. And did not thy God and Father, again and again, manifest to thee his covenant love, in accepting thee in Jesus, blessing thee with all spiritual blessings in him, hearing and answering prayer, and proving by all these tokens that he is thy God, and that thou art one of his people? And art thou, my soul, day by day looking up for salvation only in Jesus, and renouncing all other saviours? Dost thou know all these precious things, my soul, and a thousand more of the like nature, in which thou art bearing daily testimony to the word of his grace? Then surely thou art one of those to whom Jehovah appeals in the blessed scripture of the morning. Think then, my soul, what an honour thou art called to! What a privilege is thine! See to it, my soul, that thou witness for Jesus, whom God hath given for a witness to the people. And while Jesus takes up thy cause before the throne in heaven, do thou plead his cause, and be valiant for his truth here upon earth. And do ye, angels of light, and ye spirits of just men made perfect, witness for me that this Lord is my God.
EVENING JULY 8
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.”—Heb11:30
Never, in the annals of mankind, in the history of all wars, is there a parallel instance to be found, of exploits like what the Holy Ghost hath recorded here, of faith. The walls of a city actually fell down at the blasting of rams’ horns; and yet not from the blasting of horns, but from faith in the almighty power of God. My soul! let thy meditation, this evening, be directed to the subject, to see whether it will or not, under divine teaching, give strength to the exercises of thy faith? We find, in the relation given of this memorable siege, that no ramparts were thrown up, no mounds raised, nothing of any human attempt made, either to sap the foundations, or to harass the enemy. The simple process adopted to intimate to the besieged the appearance of war, was an army marching round the walls, once every day, for seven days together. I have often thought how the despisers of God and his army, in the city of Jericho, ridiculed the Israelites in their daily exercise. And what an apt resemblance were they of thedespisers, in the present day, of God and his Christ! But what an effect must have been induced, when on the seventh day, and after seven times marching round (perhaps in honour of the sabbath) at the shout of Joshua and his army, the whole of the walls fell flat to the ground! My soul! such, but in an infinitely higher degree, will be the consternation of all the enemies of Jesus, when “he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all that believe!” Do not overlook the testimony the Holy Ghost hath given to this memorable event, that it was wrought “by faith!” And what cannot faith in Jesus accomplish? Hadst thou been present at this siege, and beheld the stupendous event, when, at the command of Joshua, the Israelites shouted, and the walls fell, thou wouldest have seen a sight not more wonderful and supernatural, than when, at the command of our new testament Joshua, the Lord Jesus Christ, the weapons of sin fall out of the hands of the sinner, and the strong holds of Satan give way in the heart, to the victorious grace of the Spirit. Lord! I would say, in the review of this subject, increase my faith, and make my soul strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus!
MORNING JULY 9
“But he answered her not a word.”—Matt 15:23
Mark, my soul, this feature in thy Redeemer’s conduct towards the poor woman that so long and so earnestly entreated him—”Jesus answered her not a word.” And yet, from the close of the subject, nothing can be more evident, than that the Lord had determined, not only to grant her petition, but to throw the reins of government, concerning herself, into her hands so completely, that it should be as she would. Learn then from hence how to interpret silence at the throne upon every occasion of thine. In every dark providence, under every dispensation of grace, never forget that Jesus’s love is the same. What though he answereth not a word; yet his whole heart is towards his redeemed. Whatever frowns there may be in outward things, there can be none in what concerns the real happiness of his people. Jesus may try, as in the instance of this poor woman, the graces he gives. Faith may be hard put to it, and silence at the throne may make temptation and exercises of every kind more sharp and painful. But Jesus is the same, his love the same, the merits and efficacy of his blood and righteousness the same. These speak for thee, my soul, when they may not speak to thee. That is a precious thought; never forget it. And remember, moreover, covenant mercies are not suspended upon our deserts. The free grace of God in Christ depends not upon the will or the worth of man; according to the beautiful account by the prophet of the rain or dew of heaven, which waiteth not for man, neither tarrieth for the sons of men. Henceforth, therefore, my soul, do thou learn to wait at the mercyseat as cheerful, and with as lively actings of faith, when Jesus answereth not a word, as when thy petitions are all complied with. “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint,” saith one that could not be mistaken. Oh for grace and faith to take God at his word, and like Job to say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
EVENING JULY 9
“By faith, the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.”—Heb 11:31
It were a pity to disconnect what the Holy Ghost hath joined; and as the relation of the destruction accomplished by faith on the walls of Jericho, is followed in the scripture history, with an account of a deliverance, from the same principle, in this wonderful woman, who was an harlot, do thou, my soul, let thy last evening’s meditation on the one, be followed up in this, by the exercise of thy devout thoughts on the other; for both are expressly intended to one and the same purpose, which is to encourage the Lord’s people to be “followers of them, who now, through faith and patience, inherit the promises.” What extraordinary events are there in the scripture account of Rahab, the harlot; that such a woman, and an harlot, should be distinguished with such grace! That in such a city, even an accursed city, the Lord should have so illustrious an instance of faith! That faith so illustrious should be found in the heart of an harlot! And that the eminency and greatness of it should be such, that God the Holy Ghost hath thought proper to have it recorded, both in its principle and effects, by the apostle Paul, in one epistle, and by the apostle James in another. Yea, and what is more marvellous still, that our Lord, after the flesh, should arise out of such a stock! Oh! what a world of wonders is folded up in the great plan of salvation! But while thou art beholding the wonders of grace in the instance of this woman, and admiring the triumph of faith wrought in her, do not fail to connect with it the still more blessed view of Him who is the author and finisher of faith, and from whom, and in whom, and by whom, the whole is accomplished. Precious Jesus! it is all by thee, and thy glorious undertaking, that Rahab, the gentile, found faith to believe, while the spies of Israel doubted. It was thou, and thy grace, O Lord, that wrought so effectually, and therefore be thou eternally loved and adored in this rich dispensation of thy mercy, that Rahab the harlot perished not with them that believed not. Oh! thou bountiful Lord! publicans and harlots, thou hast said, go into the kingdom of God, before the self-righteous pharisees!
MORNING JULY 10
“And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”—Col 1:17
How doth the apostle mean that Jesus is before all things? Not as God only, for then the observation would have been needless; and not as man only, for then how could all things consist by him? What is it then, my soul? Is it not as Mediator, both God and man? And was not Christ thus set up from everlasting? Not openly revealed indeed, neither openly manifested in a body of flesh, until the fulness of time; but secretly, and in the divine counsels. What a blessed thought for the redeemed to exercise their rapturous meditations upon! And is it not this which the apostle hath said; “He is the image of the invisible God?” The image! Yes, that representation of what is in itself invisible; that identical image concerning which Jehovah when calling Adam into existence, said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” So then Adam was the first man indeed openly, but not so secretly; for it is plain that Adam was made after this likeness which was set up from everlasting. Hence this union of natures, subsisting in one person, formed the one glorious Mediator, who is, and was, before all things, and by whom all things consist. Here is the foundation then of the church, and that from everlasting: without this, the church, and indeed all things beside, had wanted foundation. For there is nothing created that can stand out of God; and there was nothing created that could stand in God, by a personal union, but him. What a glorious thought! Cherish it, my soul! Never lose sight of it. In Christ the Mediator, all things consist. The church is preserved, redeemed, sanctified, glorified: and how are all his redeemed ones personally and individually secured, but by the same? By him all things consist. Hence their consisting is in him; they are living in him, feeding on him, made righteous in his righteousness, and hereafter will be glorified in his glory. My soul, think what a world of mysteries thou art in; think what an unspeakable life, is a life of grace here; think what a world of glory in Jesus hereafter. Now see if thou canst better enter into an apprehension of those divine words of Jesus: “Because I live, ye shall live also.” And again: “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
EVENING JULY 10
“How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!”—Song 7:6
My soul! thou hast been refreshed, many an evening, through grace, in beholding thy Lord, both in his person, and in his comprehensive fulness for his redeemed; nor wilt thou be without refreshment this evening, if thy Lord, in his sweet influences, be with thee, to make what is said in this lovely scripture, life and spirit in thine heart. They are the words of Jesus; and they express the love and complacency of delight which Jesus takes in his church. Surely nothing can be more blessed, than to see the high value the Son of God puts upon the church, which the Father gave him, endeared as it is yet more in being the purchase of his blood! But what astonishment is it to the soul of a poor sinner, to be told, and by the lip of truth, that sinners are fair in Jesus’s eyes! “Thou art fair, O love, yea, pleasant.” Now remember, my soul, and in that remembrance let Jesus have all the glory, that this loveliness and beauty in the sinner, of every degree, that is regenerated, and made anew in Christ, is from Jesus. It is wholly from his righteousness, in which he beholds her clothed: “I washed thee with water, (saith the Lord) and I decked thee also with ornaments; and thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God,” Ezek 16:5-14. My soul! bow down under the conviction of all that remains of indwelling inbred sin; and, in language like that of the astonished apostle, cry out, ‘Lord! how is it that thou hast set thy love upon creatures so polluted and unworthy; and dost “manifest thyself to them otherwise than thou dost to the world?”‘
MORNING JULY 11
“If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thouwouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.”—John 4:10
Amidst a thousand precious things concerning Jesus, there are two views of him which are peculiarly so, and which those words of his to the woman of Samaria bring home to the heart in the plainest and most blessed manner. The one is, who, and what, Christ is in himself; and the other is, the Father’s authority in him, so as to give faith in him a divine warrant to act by, when a poor sinner comes to make use of Christ. It is our ignorance in those two grand points concerning salvation, which is the sad cause of all our miseries and the little enjoyment even gracious souls, for the most part, have in Jesus. Now, my soul, do thou meditate upon both these things this morning, and from these sweet words of thy Saviour see if thou dost not prove what he so graciously saith to be true. First, consider who, and what Jesus is, as he is in himself. Let thy faith have for its object of meditation, the Person, and the work of God thy Saviour. In all he wrought, in all he did, in all he accomplished, it was as the Surety of his people. And in all thefulness, by virtue of it, which is treasured up in him; it is not for himself, for he cannot need it, but it is for his people. So that a poor sinner is as much suited to Jesus for him to give out of his fulness, as Jesus is suited for a poor sinner to supply his emptiness. And therefore, if we did but thus know him, and thus come to him, we should find that he is as earnest to receive every poor sinner, and to give out of his fulness, as that poor sinner can be to come and take. Now, my soul, when thou hast duly pondered over this, look at Jesus in the other point of view also as the gift of God. Here thou hast a warrant, an authority; nay, a command, to come to Jesus, and to make use of him, for every want which poverty, ignorance, and sin have occasioned in the circumstances of our fallen nature. Christ is the one blessed ordinance of heaven; Christ is the one, and the only one, appointed way, for a poor sinner’s acceptance with God. And therefore, did a poor sinner always keep in view that Christ is the gift of God; and that God is honoured, when that poor sinner honours his dear Son, by believing the record God hath given of him; would not this make every poor sinner happy, in thus glorifying God? And therefore, my soul, look to it, that this is thy daily exercise; for then thy thirst for Jesus will not be supplied, as from a pool, which depends upon dry or wet seasons; but Jesus himself will give thee living water: nay, Jesus will himself be that everlasting living spring in thee, which springeth up into everlasting life.
EVENING JULY 11
“Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance when it was weary.”—Ps 68:9
How truly grateful are the falling showers upon the thirsty earth, after a hot summer’s day, such as this season of the year abounds with! Such, my soul, (and thou knowest it, I hope, in the many refreshments thou hast had) is Jesus, in the visits of his grace! “He shall come like rain,” was the sweet promise given to old testament saints, “upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth,” Ps 72:6. And every new testament believer hath, more or less, a real personal enjoyment of it. Sometimes the Lord comes as the tender dew, for he saith himself, “I will be as the dew unto Israel,” Hos 14:5. And hast thou not found thy Lord, not unfrequently, so to come? silent and unperceived for a while; yea, at times, when wholly unlooked for, unasked, unsought! Yes! thou dearest Jesus, thou tarriest not for man’s desert, neither waitestthou for their prepared state to receive thee! Mic 5:7. And sometimes, as this blessed portion for the evening expresseth it, the Lord comes in a “plentiful rain;” even showers of his love, washing away “the filth of the daughter of Zion,” and cleansing every thing that is polluted; as the natural clouds pour their fulness, which wash off the insects from the vegetable creation, and purify the air from noxious vapours. And when my God and Saviour thus comes to his people, how doth he make the wilderness-frames of their dry and languishing minds to blossom as the rose! So come, Lord Jesus, I beseech thee, on my soul, and not on mine only, but on thy churches, thy ministers, thy people! But, my soul, do not dismiss this charming scripture, until thou hast first gathered another blessed instruction from it, for it is most blessed. The words say, that Jehovah sends this plentiful rain, whereby he “confirmed his inheritance when it was weary.” And doth not this most abundantly prove, that Christ, with all his fulness, and all his graces, is the sent of God the Father? “We have seen and do testify (said John, the beloved apostle) that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world,” 1 John 4:14. Oh! precious, precious scripture! Do I not read in it the grace, and love, and mercy of all the persons of the Godhead? Surely, Almighty Father! thou dost confirm all thy covenant faithfulness, when thou dost send thy dear Son to the souls of thy people! Thou dost, indeed, both confirm thy truth, and refresh their weary, dry, and thirsty souls, when Jesus comes to bless them, in the dew of his grace, and in the showers of his love and mercy!
MORNING JULY 12
“And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.”—Mark 5:17
And was this Jesus whom they desired to depart? Yes: and what had the Redeemer done to merit this treatment? He had dispossessed the evil spirit from the mind of a poor creature, and caused the whole country to be freed from the fury of one whom no chains could bind: was this the cause? Yes. And is it possible that so divine an act could have had such an effect upon the minds of a whole body of people? What, would these Gadarenes rather have the devil ranging among them, in the person of this poor creature, than the Son of God in the kindness of our nature? Pause, my soul: is it not the same now? Do not men still prefer the raging uncontrolled lusts of their own hearts, the dominion of Satan, and the customs, pursuits, and follies, of the world; to the grace, mercy, and sweet dominion of Jesus? Do they not in deed, if not in words, say, “Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways?” Pause again, my soul. Was there not a time when the same was thy case? Indeed there was. And is not every one so by nature? And what but an act of grace, like the miracle Jesus wrought on this poor man, can bring any one out of it? Art thou, my soul, brought out of it? Yes, if so be, like him, thou art now sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in thy right mind. Surely, Lord, thou hast wrought this blessed change upon me! Could I desire thee to depart out of our coasts? Nay, is it not the daily, hourly desire of my heart, that thou wouldest be with me, dwell in me, reign and rule in me, and be my portion, my God, my Saviour, and make me thine for ever? Sweet testimony, in the midst of all my wanderings, coldness, undeservings! Cherish it, my soul! Jesus will not depart from thee. That love which brought him down from heaven to save a world, led him over the lake of Genn esaret to save one poor sinner. And he who came in love unsent for, departed not until he was sent away. Oh ye poor blind, deluded, Gadarenes! Oh my poor, equally blind and deluded countrymen and fellow-sinners, who know not, nor desire to know Christ Jesus! Who are ye that thus reject the Lord of life and glory, and desire him to depart out of your coasts?
EVENING JULY 12
“And they called the name of that place Bochim.”—Judg 2:5
Surely it was enough to induce such an effect, when the preaching of an angel informed the people, that the Lord, for their sins, would not drive out their enemies before them. The place might well be called Bochim, and they themselves might hear the name Bochim, weepers. But, my soul, thou hast lately been to a place which is yet more calculated to make it memorable, by weeping, when thou didst attend Jesus at the ordinance of his supper. For there Jesus himself was, and is, the everlasting preacher, who sheweth thee his hands and his side, pierced and streaming with blood, for thy sins. Didst thou not hear him speak to thee himself, in his own words, “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced: and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn?” Zech 12:10. Didst thou not weep in beholding such a sight, in hearing such words, and in meditating on such things? Alas! Lord, my heart is harder than the adamant. But if the eye wept not; say, was not my heart broken? Did I not desire to feel, to mourn, and, with the prophet, to cry out: “Oh! that mine head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night,” in the recollection of my Redeemer’s sufferings, and my sins, the dreadful cause of them? Did Jesus die for me! Did the Son of God offer up his precious soul and offering for me? Was his body broken, and his blood shed forme? For me! a poor, wretched, polluted, hell-deserving sinner? Oh! for grace to make every place a Bochim in the recollection; and especially at the table of Jesus, may my soul always find these ordinance-seasons heart-melting seasons. Here would I frequently attend, to have my soul thoroughly awakened, and my stony heart made flesh. Here would I go, to gather a holy hatred to my sins, which brought Jesus to the cross. Here would I be found waiting, that when any new temptation may arise, I may cry out, with a vehement indignation, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” How can I “crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame?” Precious Lord Jesus! do thou help me to keep the eye of my soul stedfastly fixed on thee, and all the affections of my soul to be going out in desires after thee; to be “always bearing about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of the Lord Jesus may he made manifest in my body!”
MORNING JULY 13
“This year thou shalt die.”—Jer 28:16
I have often thought this passage, pronounced on the lying prophet, a most suitable sermon for a birthday portion, to be sounded in the ears of the sinner: and if qualified with the possibility and probability which arise out of our dying circumstances, it might, when commissioned by the Lord, have a blessed effect. My soul, take it for the meditation of thy birthday. It may be fulfilled this year; it must be fulfilled some year; it cannot be a very distant year; and there is a birthday when it shall be passed upon thee in the year. And why not the present? Pause, my soul, and meditate upon it, as if this were the very year. And what though carnal men celebrate the anniversary of their birthday, as best suited to their carnal minds, let thine be wholly spiritual. If indeed a man came into the world laughing, there might be a suitable correspondence in commemorating the annual return of such a birth with laughing. But if cries first indicated the birth of a poor helpless creature, born to want, and the subject of sin and misery; can rioting and folly be the proper celebration of such an event? And is there no joy suitable on the return of a man’s birthday? Oh yes, there is, and ought to be, real heartfelt joy with every child of God. When a man begins to count birthdays in grace, every return calls for holy joy in the Holy Ghost. Not for that he was born an intelligent immortal creature only, but for that he was made a new creature in Christ Jesus. Not for that he came into the world in a state of nature only, but that he was brought also into a state of grace. Not for that he was of the stock and lineage of Adam only, but of the seed of Christ. Here is an alliance royal, holy, heavenly, divine! My soul, how many moons or years in the new life canst thou mark down? Let this be the arithmetic in thy calculation. And if, like the herald of the morning, the voice should say, “This year thou shalt die:” Oh how sweet to answer, Lord, my times are in thine hands! Can they be in a wiser, or more tender, or more loving hand than Jesus’s? Precious Lord, wean me from every thing here below, that I may be living nearer with thee, and in thee, and to thee; that as the last year of my pilgrimage lessens to the month, and the month to the week, and the week to the day, nay to the very hour and moment of my departure from a body of sin and death, the last expiring words on my trembling lips may be of Jesus; and thine, Oh Lord, come home with power and sweetness to my soul, like thine to him upon the cross: “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
EVENING JULY 13
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”—Ps 4:8
My soul! it is blessed, indeed, to lie down, or arise, when Jesus is thy rest and refreshment! But, void of security and safety in him, both the daylight and the darkness have their horrors. And how unsatisfying is every thing where Jesus is not? This is strikingly exemplified, day by day, among all carnal characters. “There be many,” saith the Psalmist (in this divine psalm), “there be many that say, who will shew us any good?” Yea, the whole world, who know not the blessedness of Jesus, will thus say! What a busy life some men make of it? And what is it for? Be their pursuits what they may; let them be ever so much diversified, one object is the aim of all. The apostle hath said what it is; “to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof,” Rom 13:14. My soul! what is the first and last, the greatest and most momentous desire of thine affections? Canst thou, and dost thou, adopt the words of the Psalmist, in this sweet psalm: “Lord! lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me: and it shall put more gladness in my heart than in the time that corn and wine increase?” Oh! the blessedness of such a state! May it be mine! Dearest Lord Jesus! grant it me, day by day; and in the evening and night watches, let thy sweet visits be unceasingly renewing: and then will I take this precious portion for my song, both when undressing for the bed of sleep, and the bed of death: “I will lay me down in peace, and sleep; for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety!”
MORNING JULY 14
“And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”—Job 1:19
My soul, is there nothing in this account which the messenger to Job gave concerning himself which suits thy case and circumstances? Nay, mayest thou not in a great variety of ways, both in providence and grace, adopt similar language, in which thou art escaped alone to tell? Pause! look back to thy boyish days. Nay, look further back, even to the birth, and to the womb; for had not the Lord carried thee from thence, surely from the womb wouldest thou have died and given up the ghost. And what was thy childhood, but years of perils and dangers, in which multitudes dropped all around thee, so that thou mightest say, while contemplating them, “and I only am escaped alone to tell thee?” And where are numbers with whom the stages of thy youth, and years at school were spent? Where are they? May it not here again be said, “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee?” Go on, and trace the wonderful history in the eventful path of riper years: through what sicknesses, pains and deaths hast thou passed; and mayest thou not, my soul, here again cry out, “And I only am escaped alone to tell?” Oh the wonders of distinguishing love, even in common providences, towards his people, before that the highly-favoured objects have any consciousness how that love is watching over them, and whereby they are preserved to the day of their calling! Who shall count the sum of distinguishing mercy, in preserving and upholding providences, during the whole of an unconverted state! My soul, hadst thou died in any one of these perilous seasons, and how very near sometimes hath death seemed, the language of Job’s messenger would not then have been thine as it is now; “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” Pause once more. Art thou now, my soul, indeed escaped to tell of converting grace? Canst thou now look round, and amidst the dying and the dead in trespasses and sins, unawakened, unconcerned, unregenerated; canst thou indeed say, “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee!” Oh then, my soul, proclaim with earnestness the glorious truth. Invite all, as far as thy sphere of information can reach, as if thou, and thou alone, wert escaped to tell of the wonders of redeeming love; and let thy daily language be: “Oh come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul.”
EVENING JULY 14
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”—1 Cor 11:26
An evening or two since, my mind was led out to the contemplation of the supper of the Lord, as a heart-affecting ordinance, to make the Lord’s table a Bochim. I hope, my soul, that in this view, thou didst find it profitable. Here is another proposed to thy meditation, which, under grace, will prove equally so, in which it comes home to thy affections as a subject of holy joy. Look at it in this light, and remark what the apostle saith upon it. The Lord’s death, which is thy life, is set forth by every renewed celebration. And what a delightful thought is that. As the body needs its constant regular meals, so doth the soul. And as Jesus is the whole of life, and strength, and happiness to his people; as oft as we receive the holy supper, we testify to the world of men and angels, that he is all this; and we glory in setting him forth as such at his table. And what a blessed addition is that little phrase at the end of this verse; “till he come:” yea, that “when he comes,” he may find his people at his table, and in their death celebrating his. Oh the blessedness of being so found! Surely every lover of Jesus would desire to be found there, when the master comes, and calleth personally for each, to take him home: to be, in one and the same moment, in the valley of vision, and the valley of the shadow of death! My soul! from henceforth, among the other glories of the ordinance, do not forget this. The oftener it is attended, the more delightful it will be. For the service keeps the remembrance of Jesus alive in the soul, until he comes to take the soul home to the everlasting enjoyment of himself in glory. And as there, all his redeemed, who feast their souls with the view of his person, unceasingly behold some new glories in him, and, after millions of ages, will find him still increasingly lovely, and increasingly precious; so here below, the more we see him, and know him, and enjoy him by faith, the more we shall long to see him, and know him, and enjoy him by sight: and the glories of his person, and the wonders of his blood and righteousness, will be unfolding more and more to our ravished souls. And while every other object lessens in its value by time and use, and all created excellencies, like the planet under which they are found, have their growing and their waning seasons; Jesus is the same, “yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Yea, though in reality always the sane, yet from the increasing manifestations of love and glory which he makes of himself to us, as our capacities are capable of bearing, he will be in our view more and more blessed, from day to day, from one ordinance to another, and through all the unknown periods of eternity! Oh! the blessedness of setting forth Jesus, “in breaking bread and in prayer!”
MORNING JULY 15
“Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.”—Ps 119:136
Who is there of whom this may be said? Jesus, and Jesus only. He wept indeed over his beloved Jerusalem, for he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And the love he had to his redeemed, induced a bloody sweat through all the pores of his sacred body. But of every other may it not be said, “All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” Did we truly love Zion, would not rivers of tears run down at the present languishing state of Zion? Did we feel the full sense of distinguishing grace, would not every heart mourn over the ruins of our common nature? Think, my soul, what a mass of sin ascends as a cloud before the view of the Lord every day from a single heart of the desperately wicked transgressor? Think what an accumulation in a town, a province, an empire, the world! Might not rivers of waters run down at the contemplation? And worse, if possible! Think of that higher source of sorrow, in that the only possible remedy for this evil is slighted, and Christ, which is God’s one gracious ordinance for the recovery of our ruined nature, is so little esteemed among men. Oh how might the people of God be supposed to have their very souls melted in the contemplation! This, this is indeed the condemnation; this is the soul-destroying sin; “that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” Oh for grace to mourn over a Christ-despising generation! Oh for the “Deliverer to arise out of Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
EVENING JULY 15
“And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh; as it is said to this day, in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.”—Gen 22:14
My soul! how many Jehovahjirehs hast thou erected? At least, how many occasions hath thy bountiful Lord afforded thee for erecting them? Oh what cause have I to blush in the recollection! Had I done by my God, as Abraham did by his, what blessed helps would they have afforded me, in the same moment that they became monuments to the Lord’s praise! Surely I know all this, in theory, very plainly and fully: but how do I fall short in the practice of it! To set up the Jehovahjireh for all that is past, is the best help to a soul in exercises for all that is to come. When I can, and do put down, after any sharp trial, any Jehovahjireh, and say, here it was “the Lord did provide;” will it not, in any future exercise, enable me to say, ‘If the Lord helped me then, may I not hope that he will help me now?’ It would be a very sad requital for past mercies, in the moment of receiving them, to say, ‘Alas! the Lord did once help, but he will not, I fear, do it again.’ This would be to read the inscription of the Jehovahjirehbackward. Whereas the very sight of our Jehovahjirehs should teach us to say, “Here the Lord helped me: here he manifested his free unmerited grace to me: and will he not again? Is he less Jehovah than he was? Is he not God all-sufficient, all-gracious still?” O it is blessed to have such stones set up as Abraham’s Jehovahjireh. There was nothing in the patriarch’s of his own providing. His was simply an act of faith; and neither the result of his asking by prayer, or providing by his wisdom. And, my soul, do not overlook a most interesting mark which the Holy Ghost hath put upon Abraham’s Jehovahjireh, in adding, “As it is said to this day, in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” As if he had said, ‘all the ages and generations yet to come shall profit by the great father of the faithful’s testimony to this place; and they shall see it to the latest day of Jesus’s church upon earth?’ Oh! how blessed, when our personal experience bears an exact correspondence to that of the faithful gone before; when we can and do set up the same. All blessings, all provisions are in Jesus. He is the Lamb, which, from everlasting, Jehovah hath provided, and whom his people shall see in all their wants, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. And let their extremities be what they may, yea, though the exercises of their faith abound, yet let them wait but the Lord’s time, which is always the best time, and they shall most assuredly, like Abraham, find cause to call the name of every place of trial, Jehovahjireh; concerning which, in proof and in reality it shall be said, every day and to the last day, “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen!”
MORNING JULY 16
“I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”—Luke 15:10
What a precious information is this which the Son of God hath given of heaven’s joy over every individual instance of the recovery of our poor fallen nature! Surely if angels of light thus participate in the triumphs of our Jesus; well may sinners rejoice over sinners, whenever a single one is awakened from darkness to light, and converted from the power of sin and Satan unto God. Think, ye ministers of my God, what motives arise out of this thought to stir up your most earnest exertions in labouring in the word and doctrine! Ought it not to be the first and most importunate petition at the mercyseat whenever entering upon your labours, that, by the Lord’s blessing upon you, new causes might arise to call forth this joy in heaven? Nay, ought it not to be the fervent prayer and hope of faith, at the close of those labours, and especially every Lord’s day, that some souls may have been awakened, and angels may have rejoiced through your instrumentality? Can there be a prayer more interesting upon earth, than when the servant of Jesus saith, ‘Lord, crown my labours this day with success?’ And can there be a subject to call forth more animated praise than when at the close of a sabbath, you look up and say, ‘Lord, have angels rejoiced this day over the conversion of any poor sinner in this congregation?’ And no less, ye parents and guardians of the rising generation, should the same hope prompt you to wrestle in prayer with God for the sanctification of your household. Go on, and hope that answers are coming down to your earnest requests. Perhaps the next joy in heaven may be over one for whom you have now prayed! Precious Jesus, it is enough. I bless thee, Lord, for this, among a thousand other proofs of thy care over us, that the salvation of poor sinners adds new joy to the felicity of heaven, and that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
EVENING JULY 16
“He shall drink of the brook in the way; therefore shall he lift up the head.”—Ps 110:7
The brook of Kidron was a black brook (for so the word Kidron signifies) into which all the filth from the sacrifices was thrown; it was the brook over which the Son of God passed in the night that he entered the garden of Gethsemane. Now, as the whole Psalm from which this portion is taken, refers to the person of Jesus, nothing can be more plain than that David, by the spirit of prophecy, is here describing the deep sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. By the expression, drinking of this black brook, it is intended to convey an idea of the “cup of trembling” put into the Lord Jesus’s hands, when he sustained all the sins and filth of his people, and in consequence as their surety, all the Father’s wrath against sin. Hence the Lord said, “The cup that my Father giveth me, shall I not drink it?” My soul! pause, and ask thyself, doth not this sweet but solemn verse give thee precious instruction, when thou considerest that all thy filth, and all thy defilements, were imputed, by the Father himself, unto the person of thy glorious surety? Is it not blessed thus to see, that by Christ’s drinking “of the brook in the way,” he took all thy transgressions, and was made both “sin and a curse for thee, that thou mightest be made the righteousness of God in him?” And though, in himself, he was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” yet, as the surety of his people, he was made black with sin and suffering; “his visage was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” Precious Jesus! may I never lose sight of Gethsemane, the mount of Olives, and the brook Kidron! Here, by faith, let my soul frequently take her evening station, and behold thee “pouring out thy soul unto death, numbered with the transgressors,” drinking “of the brook in the way,” that thy sacred head might be lifted up, first on the cross in suffering, and then with thy crown in glory!
MORNING JULY 17
“I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.”—John 14:2-3
How shall I ever sufficiently enter into an apprehension of the love of Jesus? Much less, how shall I ever sufficiently love thee, and adore thee, thou unequalled pattern of excelling love, blessed, precious Jesus? Was it not enough to have given such palpable evidences of thy love in dying for poor sinners; but must thou tell them also before thy departure the cause for which thou art gone away, and to give them an assurance, at the same time, that thou wouldest come again, and take them home with thee to glory? Oh help me, Lord, to love thee, to live to thee, to be always on the look out for thee, and to rejoice with a joy unspeakable in the promise of thy coming. And, my soul, while thou art taking all the sweetness of those precious words of thy Jesus to thyself, in the prospect of his shortly coming to take thee to himself, let them also have their full comfort under any bereaving providencesof thy friends. Wouldest thou regret if an earthly king had conceived such a love to any friend of thine, that he had sent for him to advance him to some high dignity, to make him hisfavourite, and to load him with honours? Considered as to earthly accommodations, would this advancement of some near and dear friend of thine be distressing to thee, because thou wert to see him no more? Nay, would not the generosity of the prince be highly extolled by thee; and more especially if the messengers which came to fetch thy friend, brought with them a promise, that, ere long, a royal guard would be sent to take thee also, to live with thy friend for ever, in the king’s palace, and under the king’s eye, both enjoying the royal favour? But what would all this fading, dying, perishing, and uncertain grandeur be, to that which Jesuspromiseth in these blessed words of the morning? And hath Jesus taken any of thine home to his glory? Are they now at the fountain head of blessedness, and art thou weeping over their breathless remains? Raise up, my soul, thy thoughts from earth to heaven. Hear the voice that speaks, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” Keep up the constant expectation of thine own call. Walk as on the borders of the invisible world. And above all, so watch the daily, hourly, visits of Jesus, by his grace, and enjoy the sweet communion and fellowship in spirit, by which he now speaks to his people, and they to him, that when Jesus draws back the curtain of thy bed at death, and appears to thy ravished view in all his glory, thou mayest leave the trembling body, and run to his embraces, crying out, “My Lord, and my God.”
EVENING JULY 17
“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.”—Acts 24:25
And wherefore did Felix tremble? Did Paul, who was then preaching to him, charge him with any particular sins? It doth not appear that he did. Neither is it probable that a poor prisoner would have been permitted so to have done. But the truth is, God’s holy word, by Paul’s preaching, and the man’s own guilty conscience, which Felix himself applied, so met together, that the conscious sinner could not refrain. The very thought of a future judgment, and a day of account, crossing the mind of a guilty conscience, will be enough to damp the mirth of the sinner in the midst of his jollity. Every man, more or less, must have thoughts now and then of an hereafter. Man, by nature, is a creature compelled to look forward. He is for ever proposing to himself prospects that are to arise. Hence, men of the world are sending out into the highways and lanes of the city, to invite men like themselves to kill time, and to gild the passing hour; and while they can do this, fill up the moment, and drown thought, it is all very well. But when the idea of a judgment to come riseth within, and the very apprehension that things will not always be as they now are, starts up; the alarm, like the handwriting upon the wall of the impious monarch, instantly takes effect, and a trembling follows. Dan 5:5. My soul! learn hence (and if well learned, it will be a blessed improvement of thine evening’s meditation) that outward circumstances, be they what they may, go but a little way to give inward comfort. It matters not what men possess, if those possessions have not the sanctifying blessing of the Lord upon them. Where Jesus is not, there can be no real enjoyment. All the world of creature comforts are not sufficient to afford real happiness. Hence Felix, a governor, trembled, while Paul, a prisoner, rejoiced. Hence, many an aching heart, in a noble house. Shall not such views endear Jesus to thee, my soul, still more? Shall they not make thee very cheery over thy comforts; and make thee truly jealous that thou wilt not allow thyself one enjoyment where Jesus is not first seen in that enjoyment, and where he doth not sweeten and form the whole of it? Make him the sum and substance of all blessedness, and then thou wilt find that godliness indeed is profitable to all things; “it hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come!”
MORNING JULY 18
“Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.”—Song 2:15
My soul, mark the sweetness and tenderness of this precept. Foxes no doubt resemble, in this scripture, the subtle, less open, less discovered sins and corruptions which lurk in us, like these cunning creatures, under a covering, and perhaps sometimes under a fair covering. Moreover, they may mean also false but fair teachers. “Oh Israel,” said the Lord, “thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts;” crafty, designing, malignant, and filthy. And in proportion as they put on a more fair and specious appearance, the more are they to be dreaded. Satan never more artfully, nor perhaps more effectually deceives, than when he is transformed into an angel of light. Moreover, the precept is enforced by that important consideration, that vines, by which no doubt are meant believers, have tender grapes. What more tender than a weak conscience? And what more liable to be wounded than the tender principles of young beginners in a life of grace? My soul, look up to Jesus, the Lord of the vineyard, for grace to be on the look out against these destructive enemies to thy welfare. And, conscious that all thy vigilance, without his watchful eye over thee, would never protect thee from foes so shrewd and artful, beg of Jesus himself to take these foxes for thee, and destroy them before thine eyes. Lord, I would say, keep me from every enemy which doth evil in thy sanctuary, and preserve alive, in flourishing circumstances, all those tender graces of thy Spirit bestowed upon me, that I may bring forth fruit to the praise of thy holy name, and may flourish and spread abroad as the cedar in Lebanon.
EVENING JULY 18
“And he said unto them, with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you, before I suffer.”—Luke 22:15
My soul! thy Jesus holds a feast of the ordinance of his supper; that most interesting service, which he hath appointed in his church as a standing memorial of his death, until his second coming. Surely, thou canst need nothing more endearing, to prompt thee to attend it, than what the Lord himself expressed of his own pleasure in it, in these words. There is somewhat uncommonly affectionate in them: they seem to open and unfold the whole heart of the Redeemer upon the occasion. And do not forget, that what Jesus then said to his disciples, he saith now to thee, and to all his redeemed; they were the representatives of his whole body, the church. Listen to what Jesus here saith, and regard every word in this most tender and affectionate request, as if Jesus in person were now speaking to thee, in prospect of the coming supper: “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you, now I have suffered, and have accomplished redemption by my blood!” Pause over the blessed view, and trace the wonderful desires of Jesus from everlasting, which he all along manifested towards his people. His goings forth for the salvation of his people have been from everlasting. He saith himself, that “while as yet Jehovah had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world; that then his delights were with the sons of men!” Prov8:22-31. And how did the Lord Jesus manifest his desires towards his people, as soon as creation-work took place, in all those appearances he made of himself to them, from the garden of Eden, to his openly tabernacling among them in the substance of our flesh? What were all those manifestations we read of, sometimes in the form of man, and sometimes of an angel, but to tell his church, his redeemed, that with desire he desired for the fulness of time to arrive, when he would become their passover, and suffer for them? And is not the desire of Jesus after the conversion of every poor sinner, whom the Father hath given to him, now as earnest, and as affectionate as ever? Doth he not wait to he gracious? Doth he not long for their recovery from sin and Satan, and to bring his prisoners out of the prison-house? And when they are brought, by his Holy Spirit, which he puts within them, into the liberty wherewith he makes his people free, doth he not delight in their company, seek to allure them to ordinances, call upon them by his word, by his providences, by all his dispensations, to manifest himself to them otherwise than he doth to the world? Dost thou not know somewhat of those precious things, my soul? And if so, shall Jesus say, as he doth in those blessed words to his disciples, in the evening of his agonies in the garden, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you, before I suffer?” And wilt thou not be among the first to attend thy Jesus at his table? Oh! bountiful Lord! I beseech thee, let this view of thy desires quicken mine, and let my whole soul, with all her affections, be earnestly going forth after thee, that I may say with one of old, “O send out thy light, and thy truth; let them lead me, let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles; then will I go unto the new testament altar of my God, even unto Jesus, my God, my exceeding joy; yea, upon the harp of my warmest affections will I praise thee, O God, my God,” Ps 43:3-4.
MORNING JULY 19
“Without me ye can do nothing.”—John 15:5
Dearest Jesus, I know this in theory, from thy gracious teachings, as well as I know that I am by nature a sinner; but I am for ever failing in this knowledge, when I come to put it into practice. Teach me, Lord, how to preserve the constant remembrance of it upon my mind, that I may never go forth to the holy warfare to subdue a single foe but in thy strength, and never make mention of any thing but thy righteousness, and thine only. Be convinced, my soul, every day, more and more, of this most precious truth, and behold it proved from all the circumstances around thee. See and remark the total inability either of God’s judgments or God’s mercies to induce the least alteration upon the heart of man, without his grace. Behold the prosperous sinner bathing in a full river of blessings, himself in health, his circumstances flourishing, his children like olive-branches round his table, wealth pouring in upon him from every quarter; and yet he lives without God, and without Christ in the world; and as he lives, so he dies, in the vanity of his mind. See him amidst distinguishing preservations, in battles by sea or land, still preserved, while floating carcasses, or opened graves, are all around him: do these things bring his heart to God? Not in the least. The sum total of his character may be comprised in a few words; “neither God is not in all his thoughts.” Look at him in the opposite side of the representation; let such an one be visited with chastisements, in his own person sickness, in his family misery, in his substance want; in short, in all that concerns him, a life of sorrow, care, anxiety, disappointment, ruin. Perhaps to all these, a body long the dwellingplace of some loathsome disease, under which he groans, and at length dies, and dies the same unawakened sinner as he had lived. And suppose these accumulated evils had been distinguished also with some more peculiar maladies, in perils in the sea, in perils in the war, in perils among men; nay, let him be maimed in his limbs, let him be rotting in a prison, let him be worn out with misery from evil upon evil, like waves of the sea following each other; yet still he continues the hardened, unsubdued sinner under all, and as unconscious of God’s rods as the prosperous sinner before described is of God’s blessings. Are these things so, my soul, and hast thou seen them? Yes, in numberless instances. Oh then, learn, that without Jesus thou canst do nothing. Outward circumstances, unaccompanied with inward grace, leave men just where they found them; and plain it is, that grace alone can change the heart. Lord Jesus, let these loud and crying truths, day by day lead my soul to thee! Be thou all in all, my hope, my guide, my strength, my portion; for “without thee I can do nothing.”
EVENING JULY 19
“And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, what mean ye by this service? that ye shall say, it is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover.”—Exod 12:26-27
My soul! thou hast lately been at the table of the Lord, to celebrate Christ as thy passover. If thy children ask of thee, as the Jewish children were here supposed to ask of their fathers, “What mean ye by the Lord’s supper?” wouldest thou not catch at the favoured opportunity to inform them? yea, wouldest thou wait to be asked? Can there be a duty, or a pleasure upon earth, like that of a tender father instructing his household in the things which accompany salvation? Can the imagination figure to itself any sight equally lovely to that of a parent, or a master of a family, encircled by his little ones, and answering to their interesting questions; yea, anticipating their inquiries, by speaking of Jesus, his person, his grace, his love, and all the wonders of his work, in the accomplishment of our salvation? And, indeed, these were among the precepts under the old testament dispensation. “Ye shall lay up (said Moses) these my words in your heart, and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way; when thou liest down, and when thou risest up,” Deut 11:18-19. And if the subject of redemption was so interesting then, though but in type and figure, what ought it to be now, when Jesus, the whole sum and substance of it, hath come and finished it by his blood? My soul! what sayest thou to these things? Hast thou children, a family, a household, a charge of souls about thee? And wilt thou not, at thy return from the Lord’s table, or from the Lord’s house to thine own, season thy conversation with speaking of Jesus? Wilt thou not begin the sweet subject of redemption, by way of calling up their inquiries, and exciting their attention? Wilt thou not tell them where thou hast been, and what thou hast been to the table of Jesus for; what thou hast seen there, and what thou hast felt, and known, and enjoyed of the Lord’s presence, in holy communion? Surely their minds, how young soever, will long to know more and more of a service so truly interesting; and they will be looking forward to the time of life when a ripeness of understanding, under the awakening influence of the Holy Ghost, may prepare them to join the Lord at his table also, that they, with all the ransomed of the Lord, may celebrate the Lord’s passover. Methinks I hear the earnest question of such, like the Jewish children, “What mean you by this service?” and that, when opened and explained, followed up by a thousand more: hath Christ been your passover? Hath he been with you at the feast? Hath he manifested himself to your soul “otherwise than he doth to the world?” Have you seen “the goings of your God and king in his sanctuary?” And hath Jesus made your heart “burn within you, while talking with you by the way, and in making himself known to you, in breaking of bread, and in prayer.”
MORNING JULY 20
“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house; and there I will cause thee to hear my words.”—Jer18:2
Yes, Lord, with the first of the morning will I arise, and go down at thy command, where, by the secret and silent whispers of thy divine teaching, I may gather suitable instructions for interpreting all thy dispensations, both in providence and grace, towards me. Mark, my soul, the vessel marred in the hand of the potter. Alas, how hath our nature been marred since it came out of the hand of our Almighty Potter! Will the potter cast his vessel away? No, he will new make it. Oh thou glorious Lord! methinks I hear thy words in this, for thou hast not thrown us away, but hast new made us, and more blessedly made us in Christ Jesus. My soul, art thou indeed thus new made, a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the master’s use? Attend then to thy proper character, and never lose sight of it. Refer every act of mercy and favour in thy original creation, in thy new creation, when marred by sin, and in all the appointments and dispensations, both in nature, providence and grace, in which thou art placed, to the sovereign will and pleasure of Jehovah, thine Almighty Potter. All the different forms, and the different ends, for which the whole is appointed, result from his sovereignty, in which the richest display of wisdom and of love is shewn. “Shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?” Much less in any of the dispensations, either in providence or grace, shall any say, why dost thou use me thus? Precious Jesus, it is enough to be new made in thee; to be new formed in thy blessed likeness; to be taken into thy service; and to be made a meet vessel for the master’s use in thy family. Thy church is as a great and well-furnished house, where there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth. And if my Lord condescend to look on me, to use me, nay, to bring me into his house and family, that I may be always under his own gracious eye; how humble soever the place or lowly the station, to belong to Jesus is the supreme honour of all his saints. My soul, make frequent visits to the potter’s house, and never fail to go down there whenever any temptation from the enemy, or thine own heart, causeth thee to forget thy creatureship, and the wonders of a marred creature, being new made in Christ Jesus.
EVENING JULY 20
“Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us.”—1 Cor 5:7
Thou art not wearied, my soul, I hope, with the subject of thy last evening’s meditation; and if not, the subject itself of the passover is so abundantly interesting, that it furnisheth endless matter for the sweetest thought. Every thing in the Jewish passover was typical and figurative of Jesus; and therefore, that we might not err on so important a point, the Holy Ghost, by his servant the apostle, calls him by this very name; “Christ, our passover,” and adds, “was sacrificed for us.” A lamb of the first year, without blemish and without spot, was set apart, in the Jewish church, for the observance of this service; and Christ, the Lamb of God, who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners,” was set apart, in the Christian church, for the redemption of his people, from all eternity. The lamb was slain, in the Jewish church, and roasted with fire; and when Christ was slain on the cross, in the Christian church, the agonies of his soul were such as one sustaining the fire of wrath against sin: he was made both sin and a curse, that his people might be made “the righteousness of God in him.” The lamb, in the Jewish passover, was to be roasted whole, and not a bone of him was to be broken; and one of the principal features of the Lamb of God, in the Christian passover, is, that we are to receive a whole Christ for salvation, whose bones, when on the cross, as if to prove the allusion of the type to him, by a divine providence, were not broken. The blood of the lamb, in the Jewish passover, was to be sprinkled on the lintels and posts of the houses of the Israelites, to preserve the inhabitants from destruction; and in the Christian passover, it is not the blood shed only, but the blood applied, by sprinkling on the sinner’s conscience, that delivers him from the wrath to come. Neither the bolts nor bars of the Israelites’ houses, no, nor all the prayers offered up within, became the least cause of their safety; but the blood on the door. So, in like manner, it is neither the prayers, nor repentance, no, nor faith, as an act of our own, that can preserve from destruction: it is “the blood of Christ” alone, that “cleanseth from all sin.” Oh! how blessed is it to see the great work of redemption thus shadowed forth in the scriptures from the beginning, and that the whole, and every part of the Jewish service referred to the Christian sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. “Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us.” Oh! for grace to keep the feast at the Lord’s table, a feast upon that sacrifice, and to remember what the Holy Ghost saith: “Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us,” Heb 9:11-12.
MORNING JULY 21
“The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree.”—Ps 92:12
It forms a beautiful illustration, which the Holy Ghost condescends to give of a true believer’s state, as it stands before God, in the allusion not unfrequently made in scripture to that of the palm-tree. The direct tendency of the palm-tree is upward: it lifts its head, in defiance of all impediments, towards the clouds. Now a true believer in Jesus is always looking upward, and directing all his pursuits after Jesus. His person, blood and righteousness are the objects of his desire. And as the palm-tree is said to flourish the more when trodden upon and attempted to be crushed; so the believer most oppressed for Jesus’s sake, will flourish in the graces of the Spirit more abundantly. How fruitful also is the palm-tree: and how much the people of God bring forth fruit in their old age, when, after long experience, they have found that in Jesus alone their fruit is found. How much the palm-tree likes sunny places! How precious the Sun of Righteousness is to his people! And as the branches of palm-trees are worn in tokens of victory, so the church above are beheld with palms in their hands: and the church below carry the palm of rejoicing, when, from the atoning blood and righteousness of Jesus, they are made more than conquerors through him that loved them. My soul, art thou flourishing like the palm-tree? Yes; if so be thou art planted in Jesus, and watered from the streams of that river which maketh glad the city of God. Yes, if directing all thy views, all thy hopes, all thy desires to Jesus, thou art living in him, acting faith upon him, making him the alpha and omega of hope here, and happiness hereafter. Blessed Sun of Righteousness, shine with such warm, life-giving, fruit-imparting beams of thy rich grace upon my soul, that I may flourish indeed under thy divine influence, and shew that “the Lord, who is my rock, is upright, and that there is no unrighteousness in him.”
EVENING JULY 21
“I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.”—Job 19:25-27
What sublimity is in these words! and what blessed glorious truths do they contain! Here is Job’s creed. My soul, see if it be thine. Job did not say, that he had heard of a Redeemer, and that he hoped it was true, and he gave credit to it; but he saith, he knoweth it. And observe who this Redeemer is. Job calls him his Goel, his Kinsman-Redeemer. For the right of redemption belonged to the nearest of kin, and he might redeem; Lev 25:25. We have lost our inheritance, forfeited our possession, and are poor indeed, both in person and in substance. Now as Christ, by virtue of his being our nearest of kin, is the one, the blessed one, the only one to whom the right of redemption belongs, and may redeem both our persons and our mortgaged inheritance; so we find Christ hath done both. Job therefore exults: “I know, (saith he) that my Kinsman, my Redeemer liveth.” Oh, how blessed the thought! how precious the assurance! But we must not stop here. This Kinsman-Redeemer “will stand at the latter day upon the earth.” Yes, saith the scripture, Jehovah hath given assurance to all men of this, “in that he hath raised him from the dead,” Acts 17:31. Neither is this all. Job’s creed goes on. “Though (saith he) this body of mine be destroyed by worms, yet in this flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold for myself, and not another for me.” Sweet thought! Jesus hath secured the resurrection of his people, and, by his own, hath confirmed theirs. As sure as he arose, so sure must they; for he is the first fruits, and, by their union with him, they are the after harvest. As Jesus arose perfectly and substantially the very same body that died on the cross, so must their redeemed bodies arise the very same. The hand that now writes, and the eye that now reads, if a part of Christ’s mystical body by regeneration, must be interested in his resurrection also, and must arise not only precisely the same identical body, but every member of that body must be the same; for this is essential to identity. Were God to raise another body, it would make another person. This might indeed be done by God’s power; but then it would be a new creation, and not a resurrection of the old body. I must be the who I am now, and the same as I am now, as to identity, in order to constitute a resurrection. “This corruptible (saith Paul) must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Pause, my soul, over these sweet, but solemn truths, and say, are they blessed to thy meditation? Dost thou feel a joy, an interest in them? Oh! the unspeakable felicity of knowing that we have a Kinsman-Redeemer, and that he liveth, and that we live in him? Precious, precious Jesus! though all nations die, Jesus liveth; and because he liveth, I shall live also! Lie down, my soul, this night, with this blessed assurance, saying, hallelujah! Amen.
MORNING JULY 22
“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”—Rev 17:14
What an awful thing must sin, in its own nature be, which hath introduced such evil into the whole creation of God, in its consequences. One might have hoped, however, that the meek and gentle Lamb of God would have been exempt from the daring rebellion, and that sin would not have bid defiance and waged war against the peaceable, and holy, and harmless Jesus! But so far is this from being the case, that, in all probability, war first broke out in heaven against the person of God’s dear Son, as man’s glorious Head and Mediator, even before the deadly malignity manifested itself against God and his Christ upon earth, in tempting the first man and his wife in the garden of Eden, to rebel against God. Pause, my soul, over this scripture. Who are they here described that make war with the Lamb? Nay, rather, who are they not? All the powers of darkness, all the varieties of the earth, all the inhabitants of hell, all that are under the influence of that evil spirit, which now worketh in the children of disobedience. Under this dreadful banner of open rebellion against heaven, every man by nature is enlisted; and until an act of sovereign grace and power is past, that he that is Lord of lords, and King of kings, overcomes and brings them under his blessed dominion, all ranks and orders of men are found. My soul, are the weapons of sin fallen out of thine hands? Art thou brought under the conquest of Christ’s grace? Hast thou bent the knee of willing homage to the Lamb, who hath bought thee with his blood, and made thee his by his grace? Read thy character, if so, in these sweet words: “And they that are with the Lamb are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Art thou called with an holy calling? Art thou chosen, and fully convinced of this, that had not Jesus first chosen thee, thouwouldest never have chosen him? Art thou faithful, in seeking and desiring no other salvation, convinced that there is salvation in no other? Take with thee, then, my soul, these precious marks of thy high calling and fellowship, and see that thou follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
EVENING JULY 22
“The wilderness of Zin.”—Exod 16:1
My soul! thou art still in a wilderness state, not yet arrived home to thy Father’s house; and thou art frequently exercised with wilderness dispensations. Perhaps, under the Spirit’s teaching, an evening’s meditation on the wilderness of Zin, where Israel sojourned, will be profitable to thee. Let faith lead thee thither, and see what subjects are there opened before thee. Was there ever an instance like Israel, which was brought out with a high hand, and stretched-out arm, from the tyranny of Egypt? Did the sea open a path for them to march through; and that memorable spot, which to them became the way of salvation, become to their enemies that pursued them, the pit of destruction? Did the Lord go before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and cover them from danger by the pillar of fire by night? After such miracles, yea, in the moment of receiving the same continuance of divine favour, while on their way to Canaan, what was there in the people’s passing through the wilderness of Zin, that should have discomposed their minds, or made them call in question God’s faithfulness, and his love? Thou knowest, my soul, what the scripture hath recorded of the events of the wilderness to Israel. Though their history furnisheth a continued series of the Lord’s mercies over them, yet, on their part, little else can be found but rebellion, unthankfulness, and sin. Pause, and let the apostle’s question have its full weight upon thee. “What then? (saith he) are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved, both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” Was there ever an instance of grace like this, my soul, so great, so distinguishing, so abounding, when the Lord found thee in the Egypt of thy fallen nature, and when he brought thee out with a sovereign hand? Did Jesus open to thee a new and living way through his blood? And dost thou not know, that his cross, which is thy glory, and thy salvation, will be the condemnation of all the enemies who despise it? Is thy Lord leading thee, going before thee, and following thee, in grace, and goodness, and mercy, all the days of thy life, like the pillar of cloud, and the pillar of fire, to Israel, and bringing thee by a “right way, to a city of habitation?” Are these among the daily manifestations of thy Lord? And shall thy passage (for thou knowest that it is but a passage) through the wilderness of Zin, make thee for a moment lose sight of Jesus? True, thou art exercised; and thine exercises appear to thee so peculiarly distressing, as if no one of God’s people before had ever been so circumstanced. But in them thou shouldest mark the wisdom, as well as the love of him that appoints them. Didst thou trace Jesus in all, thou wouldest find a sanctified blessing in all; and the issue of thy heaviest trials would then bring in an exact proportion of the sweetest comforts. It is because they are peculiar, that they are suited to thee. There are numberless things which occur in the exercises of thy brethren, which to thee would be no exercises at all. They feel them, and know their pressure, and the love of Jesus in sending them, and the tenderness of Jesus in helping them under them, and bringing them out of them: all these things thou seest and knowest in others, and findest cause both to admire and to adore the divine faithfulness in the dispensations. But in the study and improvement of the exercises in thine own heart, which, of all others, is the most important, here thou failest. And yet thou art convinced, in a cool hour, when grace is alive, that if a synod of angels were to arrange the circumstances of thy state, they could not order them with the wisdom and love that they are now ordered with. Go then, my soul, go by faith, frequently to the wilderness of Zin. Look at Israel’s history, and look up for wisdom to gather suitable instruction. Behold Jesus in every dispensation. Whatever tends to lead thee to him, must be blessed. It is impossible that any trial, be it what it may, can be otherwise than blessed, which opens to the view Jesus therein, and endears and makes Jesus precious thereby. And, my soul! while I wish thee frequently to go by solemn meditation to the wilderness of Zin, let each renewed visit remind thee that thou art getting through it. Like children at school, every day brings on the festival which will take us home to our Father’s house. A few steps more, a few exercises more, and Jesus will send his chariot for us; yea, he will come himself to fetch us; and we shall take an everlasting farewell both of the wilderness of Zin and this world of sorrow together. “Haste, haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart, upon the mountain of spices!”
MORNING JULY 23
“One like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about thepaps with a golden girdle.”—Rev 1:13
My soul, thou art going this morning to the throne of grace, art thou not? Pause then, and behold Jesus as John saw him, for the church’s joy, in his priestly vestments; for remember he is still a priest upon his throne, and by the oath of Jehovah, abideth a priest for ever. Nay, my soul, be not afraid, draw nigh; hark, surely he calls. Methinks he speaks to thee—’Behold me! behold me! See, I am thine intercessor. For this cause I wear these priestly garments; and as the high priest of old represented me, I appear in them down to the foot, and the golden girdle round and beneath the breast. What is thy cause? What blessings and praises hast thou to offer for past grace? And what supplications for present and future favours? Behold my vesture dipped in blood. Think of the everlasting efficacy of my righteousness: and for whom should I make intercession but for transgressors?’ Fall down, my soul, with holy reverence and godly fear. Jesus will do by thee as he did by John. He will lay his right hand upon thee, and say, “Fear not.” Oh precious, precious Lord, thou art, indeed, he that was dead, and now livest for evermore. And thou livest to see the fruits of thy great salvation faithfully and fully applied to every one of thy redeemed. Thy priesthood is for ever. Thy intercession unceasing. I do behold thee, Lord, by faith, even now standing with the blood of the covenant in thine hand, and presenting me, even me, poor, wretched, worthless me, as one of the purchase of this blood. Do I not hear thy voice in those soul-reviving words, “Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me? Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with where I am?” Oh glorious, gracious, Almighty High Priest! thou art, indeed, “a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec.” Oh ye trembling souls! ye who have any cause this day to bring before the court of heaven, look unto Jesus, look within the veil, see Jesus there; look steadily, though humbly, and behold his hands, his side; Zion is still engraven on his palms. Nay, do we not see, may we not read our very names, as the high priest bore the names of Israel on his breast, while his hands are lifted up to bless! Yes, Jesus takes up our cause, bears our persons, and all our concerns. And how shall either fail, while he “is able to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession.”
EVENING JULY 23
“Perfect in Christ Jesus.”—Col 1:28
Sweet thought! And where should perfection be found, but in Christ Jesus! My soul! turn the subject over and over again; look at it in every point of view; consider it as it relates to the life that now is, and that which is to come; and where wilt thou find any perfection for grace here, or glory hereafter, but in Christ Jesus? Oh! what heartaches would it have saved me, had I but learned this sweet lesson when the Lord first took me into his school. Had I but thought aright when the Lord passed by, and saw me in my blood, and bid me live, that a creature so polluted, and so poor, could never recompense such riches of grace, it would have tended to hide pride from mine eyes. But I was delighted with myself, and the supposed improvement I should make; all my views were directed how to requite the Lord’s goodness, and how to shine above others in the attainments I should make in the divine life: and according to my views then, it would have been no difficult matter to have persuaded me (had the adulation been offered to the pride of my vanity in a guarded manner) that, what from labours and services, in attending ordinances, and prayers, and the like, I was hastening on to perfection, and possessed a good stock of inherent holiness.—Precious Jesus! I bless thee, in the moment of recollection, for thine unspeakable mercy in breaking this snare of the enemy, and bringing me humbly to thy feet! And now, Lord, I again and again, and for ever, desire to praise thee for keeping me still at thy feet, in the same humble frame, convinced “that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing!” Oh, Lord! how should a creature such as man, who would not for a moment, did his salvation depend upon it, form one good thought, or prevent a train of evil thoughts from rushing in upon his mind; how should such an one ever be led to the presumptuous hope of finding perfection in himself? Precious Jesus! be thou increasingly precious from the increasing wants of my soul for thee. Give me, Lord, yet more and more to see that every thing in me, and from me, must be, like myself, but dung and dross. Accept, Lord, I beseech thee, both my person and my poor offerings, and let both be sweetly sanctified and perfumed with the incense of thy blood and righteousness! Be thou, Lord, my whole and sole perfection for righteousness here below, and may I be found “perfect in Christ Jesus” in a life of grace, that I may everlastingly enjoy thee in a life of glory hereafter. Amen.
MORNING JULY 24
“The stranger did not lodge in the street; but I opened my doors to the traveller.”—Job 31:32
Though Job was thus hospitable, yet we know that angels would have lodged in the street, if Lot had not taken them in. Nay, the Lord of angels, when he came a stranger upon earth, had not where to lay his head. He came indeed “unto his own, but his own received him not.” My soul, pause! Hast thou done better by thy Lord? Nay, thou hast not. And though thou knowest the precept the apostle had it in commission to tell the church, “not to be forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby,” as in the instance of the patriarch, and others, “some have entertained angels unawares;” yet, my soul, how long did the Lord of life and glory stand without, knocking at the door of thine heart, by the ministry of his word and ordinances, saying—open to me; yea, and would have stood to this hour, had he not, by his own sovereign grace, put in his hand by the hole of the door, and opened to himself. Oh thou blissful stranger, didst thou indeed come from a far country, on this gracious, blessed errand, to seek and save that which was lost; and didst thou find every heart resolutely shut against thee? Didst thou, blessed Jesus, when travelling in the greatness of thy strength, open to thyself an entrance into the souls of thy people, by the sweet and constraining influences of thy Holy Spirit? Do thou, then, Almighty Lord, throw open the street doors of my heart for thy constant reception! Make them like the gates of that blessed city which are never shut day nor night. And cause my soul, like the prophet on the watchtower, or Abraham in the tent door, to be always on the look out for my Lord’s approach, that I may invite thee; yea, constrain thee to come in, and abide with me, and to make thyself known unto me, by the heart-burning discourses of thy word, and in breaking of bread and of prayer. Yes, yes, thou glorious Traveller! who art perpetually on the visits of thy love, I do know thee, I do sometimes catch a sweet glimpse of thee, and trace the footsteps of thy grace, in thy word, in thy ordinances, and in the various ways by which thy presence is discoverable. Indeed, indeed, thou heavenly Stranger, thou shalt not lodge in the street; but I will take thee home to my house, to my heart and soul; and thou shalt sup with me, and I with thee, according to thine own most gracious promise, and I will cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
EVENING JULY 24
“There they made him a supper.”—John 12:2
We are very apt to suppose the blessedness of those hallowed seasons in which the Lord Jesus ate and drank familiarly with his disciples, as peculiarly given to the followers of our Lord in the days of his flesh. And, no doubt, there was a precious savour which Jesus manifested upon those occasions. He that laid aside his garments, and condescended to wash his disciples’ feet, may well be supposed to have said and shewn a thousand gracious things in those seasons, which are not recorded. But, my soul, depend upon it, if we make Jesus a supper, or if Jesus invites us to his own, which is the same thing, there will be always a blessed savour of his person, work, and righteousness, when his person is the subject of discourse, and his work and righteousness the rich food of the soul. Our ordinary meals would be truly sanctified, if the love, and grace, and favour of the bountiful giver of them, became the chief conversation at our table. But is it to be wondered at, if carnal company mingle at our entertainments, that carnal discourse, and not that which tendeth to edification, should follow? And if Jesus be thus forbidden, how shall it otherwise be, but that every thing connected with Jesus is banished? How often, my soul, hast thou been at such tables, and in such society where thy master is not honoured; but where, at thy departure, thou mightest with truth have taken up the observation, and said, ‘Alas! I have neither said ought which might benefit another, nor heard ought to be benefited by myself?’ Blessed Lord, while I sit down at the refreshments of thy bounties, give me always to recollect from whom they come; and while I eat of the fat, and drink of the sweet, do thou, Lord, send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared. And cause me and mine, at every supper, to make thee a supper in a true spiritual enjoyment of thee. Oh! for thy presence to be always in view, and the savour of thy name to be as “ointment poured forth!” And do thou, Lord, by the sweet influences of thy Spirit, direct our conversation to the use of edifying, that we may talk of Jesus, while Jesus draweth nigh to us; and at every supper, think of the supper of the Lord; and by faith, enjoy that marriage-supper of the Lamb in heaven, at which we hope, ere long, to sit down for ever!
MORNING JULY 25
“Thou art my hiding-place.”—Ps 32:7
Yes, dearest Jesus, thou art indeed my hiding-place. In every point of view, I desire grace so to behold thee. Surely, from everlasting, in thee, and thy person and righteousness, were all thy redeemed hid in the councils of peace and salvation. And is not every individual hid in thee also, Oh thou glorious head of thy church; while in a state of unrenewed nature, to be secured from death and the grave, and from the unpardonable sin; and as one of the apostles terms it, “preserved in Christ Jesus, and called.” And when called, and quickened by grace, what, but from having our lives hid with Christ in God, could keep alive the incorruptible seed, or preserve unextinguished the immortal spark? Whence is it, my soul, that the smoking flax, which Satan and thine own remaining indwelling lusts strive to blow out, is not quenched; or the bruised reed, which appears so continually falling, is not broken—but because Jesus is thy security, through whom, and in whom thy languishing graces revive as the corn, and grow as the vine? Oh what springs of grace must there be for ever flowing from Jesus, though hidden from mortal view! Surely, Lord, thou art my hiding-place, and therefore, with thy leave, I will consider thee as a strong tower, into which the righteous runneth and is safe. Yes, both my person and life, both my safety and happiness, both my present peace and everlasting joy, all, all are in thee. Doth any then, ask thee, my soul, where dwellest thou? Tell them, in Jesus, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, even in Christ himself and his justifying righteousness; secret and hidden indeed from mere men of the world, but revealed from faith to faith to all his redeemed; and into which, tell them thou hast found shelter from the broken law of God, from the dreadful effects of sin, from death, from hell, and all the powers of darkness. And all these, and numberless other unknown blessings, because Christ is my hiding-place, who hath both preserved me from trouble, and hath compassed me about with songs of deliverance.
EVENING JULY 25
“And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.”—Matt 21:34
The very lovely season of the year, and the fulness of fruits which appear on all the productions of God’s providence around, open to the mind some of the most delightful meditations. My soul! sit down this evening, and give scope to the subject; and see, while contemplating thy Lord’s bounties in nature, whether thy Lord himself will not lead thee by the hand into the inner department of contemplating his yet greater bounties in grace. Methinks every thing seems to have a voice, and speaks of Jesus. By the fall, our poor ruined nature is entitled to nothing from the earth, but thorns and briers; therefore the numberless sweets of the divine mercy preach Jesus, and his cross. It is as if they all said, ‘Are we lovely to the eye, pleasant to the taste, and healthful in the enjoyment; then are we so by Jesus’s appointment, and by Jesus’s blessing.’ My soul! there is more of him, than thy unthinking heart is conscious of, in every blessing and favour around thee. Oh! for grace to keep this always in remembrance, that from henceforth thou mayest find a double enjoyment in all; first, in beholding Him, and then his gift, be it what it may, as his, and which he giveth thee liberally to enjoy. And there is still another blessedness in thus sitting down to the contemplation and enjoyment of divine bounties; I mean, that the soul not only beholds Jesus in all, and enjoys Jesus in all, but it beholds Jesus as looking on, and rejoicing over his people, in their sanctified use of his bounties. How truly blessed is that scripture in point; “Yea, I will rejoice over them, saith the Lord, to do them good, and I will plant them in this land, assuredly with my whole heart, and with my whole soul!” Jer 32:41. My soul, sweetly meditate on these things; and when thou beholdest, as in the present time of the year, every thing around furnishing the witness of God’s love and faithfulness, “in giving rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness;” let all lead to Him. Jesus himself is in all. It is he who gives all, crowns all, sanctifies and sweetens all. And never did any husbandmanamong men, wait for the precious fruits of the earth with equal diligence and delight, as Jesus, in beholding the fruits of his own graces, which by his Holy Spirit he first plants, and then calls forth into exercise upon his own person and righteousness. Say, my soul, as the church did, and let this be thine evening song to the same lovely and all-loving Saviour: “My beloved is come down into his garden, (the church) to the beds of spices; to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.” Song 6:2.
MORNING JULY 26
“And there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”—Gen 32:24
My soul, here is a lovely portion for the morning. For the morning, did I say? Yea, both for night and morning, and, indeed, until the everlasting morning break in upon thee, and all the shadows of the night flee away. For are not all the seed of Jacob like their father, wrestlers in the actings of faith, and the fervour of prayer, until they come off, like him, prevailing Israels? And who was this man which wrestled with the patriarch? Let scripture explain scripture, and give the answer. By his strength, said the prophet Hosea, Hos 12:3, etc. “he had power with God; yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto him; he found him in Bethel, and there he spakewith us; even the Lord God of Hosts, the Lord is his memorial.” Here then light is thrown upon the subject. He that is called a man in one scripture, is called an angel in this other. And that we might not overlook nor forget the identity of his person as the very man whose name was then secret, Judg 13:18, but hereafter to be made known, and himself appear openly, the prophet was commissioned to tell the church, that he that spake with us, in the person of Jacob, our father, was the same that found Jacob in Bethel, even the Lord God of Hosts; for that was his memorial. Gen 28:10-19. And was it then He, whose name is Wonderful, which wrestled with Jacob? And when the poor patriarch was hard put to it, full of fears, doubts, and distresses, on account of his brother Esau, and was stirring up himself to take hold of God’s strength, by way of strengthening himself against Esau, did he that came to strengthen him, first take hold of him, and seem to contend with him, until the breaking of the day? Oh then, my soul, here learn a sweet and precious lesson against the hour of the many contentions with the Esaus of thy warfare; for thou wrestlest not only against flesh and blood, but “against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” See, my soul, where thy strength is—even in Jesus. See what a blessed example of prevailing in prayer the Holy Ghost hath here set before thee. Look to this God-man with whom Jacob wrestled, and come off successful; and say with Job, “Will he plead against me with his great strength? no; but he will put strength in me.” Job 23:2-7. Fill thy mouth with arguments, as Job did. Tell Jesus of thy wants, tell him of his riches, tell him of thy guilt, tell him of his precious blood and righteousness, and tell him that thy misery, and weakness, and unworthiness, renders thee a suitable sinner for so gracious a Saviour to get glory by in saving. Go to him, my soul, with these strong, these unanswerable pleas. Jesus will love to hear, and to receive them. And while he wrestles with thee, do thou wrestle with him, all the night, in which thou art contending with thy sins within, and temptations without; with the errors of the infidel, and the crying sins of the profane. And do as Jacob did, wrestle, plead, supplicate, cry, and take hold of his strength, his blood, his righteousness, and God the Father’s covenant promises in him; and never give over, nor let him go, until the day break, and he blesseth thee.
EVENING JULY 26
“An altar of earth.”—Exod 20:24
Everything, and every service, in the old testament dispensation, as well as in the gospel church, points to Christ. Behold, my soul, in the Lord’s appointment of “an altar of earth,” how jealous the Lord is of his honour. If the altar dedicated to the Lord’s service, be of earth, or if it be of stone, there was not to be the least mixture. Nothing hewn, nothing polished by man’s art, or man’s device; “for if,” saith Jehovah, “thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” Behold, how fully Jesus was preached here! There can be nothing offered to the Lord for his acceptance, but what is the Lord’s. Jesus is the Father’s gift to poor sinners; and when a poor sinner presents before the Father, the Lord Jesus as his whole altar, sacrifice, and offering, he presents to the Father what the Father first presented to him. If the sinner were to join anything of his own with this offering, this were to pollute it. Sweet thought! my soul, cherish it in the warmest of thine affections; carry it about with thee for thy daily exercise of faith upon the person of Jesus, that nothing of thine may mingle with the pure and perfect salvation, which is alone in him. And, depend upon it, thy God and Father is more honoured, more glorified, and will be more beloved, by such a perfect reliance upon Him in whom his soul delighteth, than he would be by the greatest and most costly sacrifices of thine own providing. The infinite and eternal worth and efficacy of Jesus’s blood and righteousness, is upon everlasting record. God is well pleased with him, and his people in him; and a voice from heaven hath proclaimed it to the earth. To offer anything of our own, by way of making it pleadable, is to pollute it; yea, it is to make it questionable, as if we thought it not complete. And by thus doing, we declare that our hearts are not thoroughly pleased with what Jehovah hath declared himself well pleased, but are seeking to rest our souls, not upon the altar, which is wholly the Lord’s, but adding to it of our own. Oh! for grace to make Jesus what the Father hath made him, the all in all of man’s salvation; and be ever ready to let him have all the glory, who alone hath accomplished it, “in believing the record that God hath given of his dear Son.”
MORNING JULY 27
“That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.”—Prov22:19
My soul, mark for thy morning meditation, what is here said. Observe, in the first place, thegeneral knowledge the Lord hath given of his saving truth and mercies in Christ Jesus, and which becomes a sufficient warrant and authority for all the world to believe in Christ, and to accept of Christ, to the salvation of the soul. Christ in the word is the Father’s authority for every sinner to believe the record God hath given of his Son; and the rejection of this command will be the condemning sin to every one who despises this plan of salvation, because he hath heard and then turned his back upon this love of God in Christ Jesus the Lord. My soul, ponder over this view of the subject, and then turn to another sweet and distinguishing property of God’s revelation which he makes by his blessed Spirit, in theparticular apprehension of it. And this is done in every heart that is made willing in the day of God’s power, when the same grace which reveals Christ in the word, reveals Christ also in the heart, the hope of glory. Here the verse of the morning is confirmed in what God saith, that in order to every child of God putting his trust in the Lord, he hath made known to thee, even to thee, this day. Observe, my soul, the personal application of the divine truth. God, by his Spirit, makes it known to thee. It comes like a letter sent down from heaven. Who is it for? Read the direction. It is for thee, my soul. Thus faith takes home the contents to the heart, and finding how exactly every thing in Jesus and his salvation suits his own case and circumstances, he lives upon it, feeds upon it, takes it for his portion, trusts in God for the truth of it, and rejoiceth evermore. My soul, hast thou marked these distinct things? and dost thou know how to distinguish rightly between general proclamations of mercy, and special, personal enjoyments of it? Oh then, live up to the full enjoyment of God’s rich mercy in Christ; accept Christ, and use Christ, daily, hourly, to the glory of Father, Son, and Spirit; as the redemption by Christ was intended; and bless God more and more for his unspeakable gift.
EVENING JULY 27
“Woe is me, for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape gleanings of the vintage; there is no cluster to eat; my soul desired the first ripe fruit. The good man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men.”—Mic 7:1-2
Is not this lamentation as suited to the present times, as when the prophet delivered it? Were the interests of Zion ever at a lower ebb than now? Did the waters of the sanctuary run less in a stream in any period of the church than the present? Surely it is like the ingathering of the fruits of the earth at this season of the year; the choicest are gone; the trees are unladen. It is only here and there, as “the shaking of an olive-tree; two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough.”Isa 17:6. The Lord hath been calling home his chosen. Death hath been housing the servants of the Lord. And even those that remain, alas! are they not more like the gleanings, than like the first ripe fruits. Who is there interested for Zion? Who layeth it to heart, that she languisheth in all her borders? My soul! can a throne of grace witness for thee, that many a petition thou art lodging there, that “the Lord would do good in his pleasure unto Zion?” Is it known to the great searcher of hearts, that thou preferrest ”her prosperity above thy chief joy?” Dost thou tell the king that thou lovest him, in loving his people; and knowing the preciousness of thine own salvation, art thou seeking by prayer, and by every means in thy power to form and promote the salvation of others? Oh Lord! give me grace “for Zion’s sake never to hold my peace, nor for Jerusalem’s sake to rest, till the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth!”
MORNING JULY 28
“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone did lead them.”—Deut 32:11-12
Here learn a lesson, to form some faint idea how the Lord is unceasingly engaged in taking care of his people. If thy God condescends to represent it by such a similitude, is it not both thy privilege and thy duty to mark the several particulars of such grace and tenderness? The eagle not only possesseth in common with other creatures, the greatest affection for her young, but manifests a vast superiority over every other of the winged tribe in her management of her brood. She provides for them and protects them, as other birds of the air do; but in educating them, and the method by which she shelters them from danger, here is displayed such superior wisdom and power, as far exceeds whatever we meet with in other creatures. “She stirreth up her nest:” by which we may understand, she suffers not her young eagles to lay sleeping, but calls them forth to life and exercise. She “fluttereth over them,” as if to show them how they are to use their wings, and fly. And when she taketh them from the nest, this is not done like other birds, who carry their young in their talons, and in their haste or flight may drop them—or when pursued, or fired at by an enemy, may have them killed and herself not hurt; but the eagle beareth her young on her wings, so that no arrow from beneath can touch the young, until it hath first pierced through the heart of the old bird. What a sweet thought do these views afford; and what a blessed instruction do they bring! My soul, do they not teach thee, since the similitude is the Lord’s own, that he that hath stirred up the nest of thine old nature, in which thou wast born, because he would not suffer thee to sleep there for ever in theunawakened state of sin, and hath brought thee out, and brought thee abroad, and taught thee how to fly up, in devout aspirations after him, is the Lord? Is it not he that fed thee and sustained thee from thy youth, even until now; taught thee, and hovered over thee, and caused thee to “mount up as upon the wings of eagles; to run and not be weary; to walk, and not faint?” Yes, yes, blessed Jesus, it is thou that hast indeed borne me, as thou hast said, upon eagles’ wings, and brought me to thyself: so that I see, by this delightful comparison, that thou wilt not suffer any of thy little ones to perish; for “he that toucheth them, toucheth the apple of thine eye;”—nay, while on thy wings, he that destroyeth them, must first destroy thee. Oh Lord, give me grace rightly to enjoy and use such marvellous blessings. And since, to the wisdom and strength of the eagle, thou hast now added the tenderness and solicitude of the hen, do thou, Lord, gather me under thy wings, and nourish me with thy love and favour, that I may be thine for ever, and live here by faith, as hereafter I hope to live with thee in glory.
EVENING JULY 28
“And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.”—Acts 9:34
My soul! look at this man, Aeneas: consider his circumstances of bodily sickness, and the long period of eight years, in which he had been bedridden. And when thou hast duly pondered the subject, behold the sovereignty of that all-powerful, all-prevailing name of Jesus Christ, though pronounced only by a servant, and see the blessed effects of it. And wilt thou, after such an instance, go lean under any spiritual sickness? Shall it be said that Jesus Christcannot make thee whole? Surely, thou wouldest tremble at harbouring such a thought, even for a moment! And if thou darest not think such hard things of Christ’s ability, why shouldest thou not equally shudder at supposing thy Lord’s want of inclination? Hast thou not found him gracious in times past? And was that grace the result of thy desert? Was it not the pure effect of his own free love? And ought not past experience to beget future hope? Is not every believer’s life, a life of trust and dependence? Go to him, my soul, under every new ailment, as thou wert led to him at first. “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Let faith have her full exercise. “Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” Here rest thy whole confidence. Never go to him in any attempts of thine own; but by a direct act of faith upon his glorious person, power, grace, and compassion; in his strength, and not thy feeling, rest wholly upon him, and plead thy necessities and his glory: and, depend upon it, this plan, which is of the Lord’s own appointing, will bring comfort under all the leanness with which thou art exercised. Remember his own most gracious words: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” John 16:23-24.
MORNING JULY 29
“We, being many, are one body in Christ.”—Rom 12:5
One of the most delightful of all thoughts, and which when fully enjoyed under the influence of the Holy Ghost, gives an unspeakable felicity in the heart, is that union and fellowship of Christ with his church. Ponder it, my soul, this morning. All the members of Christ’s body are but one body, the apostle saith, in Christ; “and he is the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” I would never, if possible, lose sight of this, because in the perfect conviction and assurance of it must be found all our security, and joy. And the way by which this blessed truth, under divine teaching, will be kept alive in the soul, is this: I would behold myself, what I am by nature and practice in Adam, and connect with this view what I am by grace and faith in Christ. Now, as Adam was the common head of all his seed in nature, equally so is Christ the common head of all his seed in grace. Do I consider that, when Adam sinned in the garden, I as one of his children, and then, as scripture saith of Levi, in respect to his connection with Abraham, was in his loins, part of himself, and consequently implicated and involved in all the good or bad belonging to him? Then it will follow, that in Adam’s sin I sinned, and in Adam’s condemnation I was included. So then, as Adam did not transgress only for himself, but for all his seed, by nature, that should come from him; equally so when Christ fulfilled all righteousness, and when Christ expiated all sin by the sacrifice of himself, his seed were considered righteous in him; and his expiatory sacrifice, as the head of his people, must be, to all intents and purposes, the same as if they had been sacrificed with him. Cherish this thought, my soul, and never allow thyself to behold Christ as the Christ of God, in the capacity of a private or single person, but as the covenant Head, the Father’s Chosen, the Sent, the Sealed, the Anointed of God, in whom all his members are one body in Christ. See that thou hast the Spirit of Christ, by which thou art proved to be one of his. And for the full enjoyment of all the blessings contained in this union and communion with thy glorious head, daily and hourly remind God thy Father of all his covenant promises made to Christ as the head of his church and people, in which the Lord hath said, “I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.”
EVENING JULY 29
“But I am like a green olive-tree in the house of God.”—Ps 52:8
My soul! canst thou humbly take up this language? See, and mark the particulars, one by one, and then determine the important point. Here the church at large is represented as a green olive-tree: and, by a just conclusion, every member is a part; for, “we, being many, are one body in Christ.” Now the apostle saith, that by nature this was not the case, for we were of the wild olive-tree, and were grafted, contrary to nature, into the good olive-tree; Rom 11:24. Hence, if thou art taken from nature to grace, it must have been by conversion. The work is not of man, but of God. And, so far is any man from contributing to it, that it is altogether contrary to nature. Hast thou felt the cutting work of conviction, when taken from the old stock of nature; and the healing work of conversion, when brought into the new stock of grace, by an union with Christ? And, when there is an union formed on the new stock, there will be a communication from the root to the branch. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” There will be a most blessed union; a oneness, an interest, a life-giving, a life-strengthening principle, communicated continually from Christ to his members. For he saith himself, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” Hast thou, my soul, these blessed testimonies? Moreover, where there is this union with Christ, and soul-communications from Christ, there will be not only life but fruitfulness; a perpetual verdure, a state of constant flourishing. Say, is it so with thee? Canst thou take up the language of this sweet scripture, and say, “But I am like a green olive-tree in the house of God?”—It is blessed so to be enabled to say; and blessed to ascribe all the glory to the one only source, even Jesus; and blessed to mark the distinguishing grace of the Lord in the appointment. For when the Lord Jesus took thee from among the olive-trees, which were all wild by nature, there were many there in the wilderness, apparently more promising, and surely none more undeserving! And yet, while others were left, thou wast taken. “Lord! (may I well and constantly cry out) how is it that thou hast manifested thyself unto me, and not unto the world?” Precious, bountiful Lord! fulfil in my soul that sweet promise; and cause “my branches to spread, and my beauty in thee to be as the olive-tree, and my smell as Lebanon,” Hos 14:6.
MORNING JULY 30
“My grace is sufficient for thee.”—2 Cor 12:9
My soul, gather a rich cluster this morning of those precious fruits which hang upon the tree of life—even upon Jesus. Thou wilt find their taste more sweet and pleasant than all the branches of the vine. Consider the fulness in thy Lord. Such a fulness indeed, by virtue of the covenant engagements in Jehovah, is treasured up in Christ, that all the grace every individual of his seed could possibly want in time, and all the glory hereafter—all, all is lodged in him. What a thought is here! Consider also the freeness of this grace. Never, surely, did God give any gift more free than when he gave his Son. And as the apostle from hence justly reasons: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” When, my soul, thou hast feasted thyself upon the fulness andfreeness of the fruits of Jesus’s salvation, gather another rich portion for thyself with the hand of faith, in the suitableness and sufficiency there is in him for thee. Take the sweet words spoken here to Paul, but not limited to Paul, as if personally addressed to thyself. It is Jesus now speaks and saith this day, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” This is as if he had said, all the grace I have is for my people; and I have not only enough for all, but for every one; and I have it for thee. I have the very portion which I knew each would want every day, and all the day, through the whole of their pilgrimage state: from everlasting I knew their need; and from everlasting I have laid every individual child’s portion by, and do keep it for him to the moment required: and each shall find a suited sufficiency exactly answering to all their wants, and corresponding to all their necessities. Precious thought! Henceforth, my soul, cast all thy care upon Jesus; for thou now seest how he careth for thee. Morning by morning hear his voice, speaking personally to thyself, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
EVENING JULY 30
“Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?”—Ruth 2:10
My soul! dost thou not find continual causes for sending forth the same inquiry as this poor Moabitess did, when thou art receiving some renewed instance of Jesus’s favour? Her heart was overwhelmed with the kindness of Boaz, in permitting her to glean only in his fields, and to eat a morsel of food with his servants: but thy Boaz, thy Kinsman-Redeemer, hath opened to thee all his stores of grace and mercy; he bids thee come and take of the water of life freely; yea, he is to thee, himself, the bread of life, and the water of life; and is now, and will be for ever, thy portion, on which thou mayest feed to all eternity. When thou lookest back, andtracest the subject of his love from the beginning, in the springs and autumns of his grace; when thou takest a review of the distinguishing nature of these acts of grace; when thou bringest into the account thine ingratitude, under all the sunshine of his love and favour; will not the question again and again arise, at every review, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” [Ruth 2:10] Stranger indeed, by nature and by practice; living without God, and without Christ in the world. And, my soul, it might have been, long since, supposed, that, after such repeated unceasing acts of grace, as Jesus hath shewn, and even when thou hast caused him “to serve with thy sins, and wearied him with thy transgressions;” yet his compassions have failed not, but have been “new every morning;” it might have been supposed, that long and unceasing grace would at length have produced the blessed effect of living wholly to him, who hath so loved thee, as to give himself for thee. But, alas! the day that marks again his mercy, marks again thy rebellion. So that the heart is constrained every day to cry out, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes?” Precious Jesus! the only answer is, because thou art, thou wilt be Jesus. Lord! I bow down to the dust of the earth, in token of my vileness, and thy unspeakable glory! It is indeed the glorious attribute of thy grace to poor fallen men: “the Lord delighteth in mercy. He will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.”
MORNING JULY 31
“Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?”—Isa 21:11
While this solemn inquiry may be supposed to have peculiar reference, as addressed to the servants of the Lord, whom he hath set as watchmen upon the walls of Zion, may it not be made personally to every man’s bosom also, as it refers to himself? And the repeating of it twice should seem to imply the importance and earnestness with which it should be followed up. My soul, what is the night with thee? Art thou watching in it more than they that watch for the morning: yea, I say, more than they which watch for the morning? How art thou exercising this watchfulness? Is all safe respecting thine everlasting welfare? Art thou watching the approaches of the enemy? Art thou watchful in prayer; watchful for the gracious moment of the Spirit’s helping thee in prayer; watchful in guiding thee in the exercise of it; watchful of the Lord’s gracious answers to prayer; and, like the prophet on the watch tower, having given in thy petition to the heavenly court, into the hands of thy High Priest and Intercessor, art thou waiting to see what the Lord will say unto thee? Lord, make me eminently watchful in these things. Go on, my soul, in this heart-searching inquiry. Art thou waiting and watching thy Lord’s return? What of the night is it now? May not Jesus come at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning? Pause, my soul. Suppose his chariot wheels were at the door, wouldest thou arise with holy joy, crying out, It is the voice of my beloved, saying, “Behold I come quickly?” And wouldest thou answer, “Even so come, Lord Jesus?” Oh for grace to be of that happy number, of whom the Lord himself saith, “Blessed are those servants whom, at his coming, he shall find so doing.”
EVENING JULY 31
“Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.”—Ps 97:11
My soul! mark how blessedly the Holy Ghost speaks of the stores in Jesus laid up for his people. Light, in which is included all blessings in Christ Jesus, is sown, not reaped. This is not the harvest, but the seedtime of a believer. It is a life of faith, a life of trust, a life of dependence. Hence the apostle saith: “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not;” Gal 6:9. Now this light is sown for the righteous; for the true believer in the righteousness of Jesus; and there shall be gladness in thee, and for truly regenerated in heart. My soul! it were exceedingly to be desired, that thou wouldest seek grace from the Holy Ghost to have a right apprehension of the promises. It is to the want of this, very frequently, that thy comforts are broken, and that thou walkest in darkness. Thy Lord Jesus doth indeed give thee many sweet love-tokens by the way, and handeth to thee many a blessed morsel of his bread in secret, to comfort thee on thy pilgrimage; but it never was his design, neither would it suit thy present state, nor his glory, to make the wilderness any other than a wilderness. The Lord forbid that ought should arise, to prompt thee to set up thy rest, like the Reubenites, on this side the land of promise. No. Light is sown mark that: and the harvest is sure: here rest in full assurance of hope. Thy Jesus is thine: thy interest in him is not now to be called in question: let him then guide the way. And though clouds and darkness may rest upon it, yet he is bringing thee by a right way to a city of habitation. This is the minority of thine existence; and by and by thou wilt come of age. Thou and thy companions are all going home to thy Father’s house, to thy Jesus, and his kingdom: and what will it signify, when thou gettest there, what accommodation thou hast had by the way? Nay, the poorer it hath been, the sweeter will be the refreshments that follow. And if thou art but little acquainted with the luxuries on which the carnal rejoice, the good things of the earth brought forth by the sun, and the precious things put forth by the moon; yet having “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush,” thou hast a Benjamin’s portion, and art most blessed indeed. Say then, as the Psalmist: “From men which are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose bellies are filled with thy hid treasure! But light is sown for the righteous and gladness for the upright in heart. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.”
MORNING AUGUST 1
“In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.”—Ps 89:16
See, my soul, what a blessed cause is again before thee to begin the month, and to carry it on through every day, and all the day, and in every part of the day, for joy in the name and righteousness of Jesus. And mark it with peculiar emphasis, that it is Jesus, as Jesus, the Christ of God, and his righteousness as
the righteousness of God, in which all thy rejoicing is, and not in the finest frames, or spiritual exercises of thine own. A daily sense of a need of Christ, and as constant a sense of acting faith upon Christ; these form the foundation of every true believer’s joy, and make the savour of Christ’s name like ointment poured forth. And whence is it, my soul, that all the redeemed are said to rejoice in the name of the Lord all the day, but because the Lord hath saved them and redeemed them for his name’s sake? And whence is it said, that in his righteousness they shall be exalted, but because from their union with Christ, as their spiritual head, they are accepted in his righteousness, and are made the righteousness of God in him? Here’s an exaltation indeed, enough to make the heart of the most sorrowful glad, let outward circumstances be what they may; when inward joy and peace in believing give such a blessedness to the believer’s view of the name of Jesus. See to it then, my soul, that all thy fresh springs of joy are in him. Be very jealous over thyself, in the happiest moments of thy comfort, that Christ’s name, and his righteousness and salvation, lie at the bottom of thy joy. Where is Jesus? I would ask my heart, when I am most at ease and happy. Is he in this happiness? And is this happiness enjoyed, and enjoyed purely, because Christ is in it? Trace this, my soul, through all the parts of salvation, and through all thy paths in grace, and see whether thou art bottoming every hope and every mercy, both for time and eternity, in the name and righteousness of Jesus only: for, depend upon it, as Jehovah hath said, in the pardoning and blotting out the transgressions of his people, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for my name’s sake;” so it is to the everlasting praise of his name, that all the glory of salvation is, and must be ascribed. Nevertheless, he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.
EVENING AUGUST 1
“An anchor of the soul.”—Heb 6:19
In the opening of a new month, look, my soul, at thine anchor! Surely it is good and profitable for thee to see thy safety, that thou mayest ride out all the storms which arise, and never make “shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.” And what is thine anchor? Nay, who, or what can it be, but Jesus, and his finished righteousness? He hath accomplished redemption by his blood, and hath entered within the veil to prove its all-sufficiency. On him, then, thou hast cast anchor; indeed, he is himself the anchor of all thine hopes, and the rock of ages, on which thou restest thine eternal security, “both sure and stedfast.” True, it is unseen; and, like the sailor’s anchor, thrown out into the deep. But, though unseen, it is not unenjoyed: for concerning him, who is the anchor of the soul, it is the blessed privilege of faith to say, “whom having not seen, we love: and in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.” But the anchor of this world’s mariner, and that of the spiritual navigator, differ most widely. His anchor is thrown forth at an uncertainty: it may break; it may find no anchorage; the cable may give way; the ship may drive; and one anchor after another be lost, and the vessel, after all, founder. Not so with him, whose hope and anchor of the soul is the Lord Jesus: “He is a rock; his work is perfect.” His salvation is founded in the everlasting counsel, purpose, will, and good pleasure, of God our Father; it is secured in the perfect obedience, righteousness, blood-shedding, and death of our Lord Jesus Christ: and the soul who rests on this anchor of hope alone for redemption, hath been brought savingly acquainted with the Father’s love and the Son’s grace, through the blessed teaching, power, and application of God the Holy Ghost. My soul! is this thine anchor? Hast thou this glorious security, entered within the veil for thee; unseen, indeed, but not unknown; undeserved, but not unenjoyed? Oh! what unspeakable mercies are unceasingly arising out of this divine, this rapturous hope, to support my weather-beaten soul! Surely, precious Jesus! I may well look up to thee, in the opening and close of every day, and every month, as the anchor of my soul, both sure and stedfast; for thou hast been to me, and thou wilt still be, until I get into the haven of everlasting rest, what thou hast been to all thy redeemed; “a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall;” Isa 25:4.
MORNING AUGUST 2
“My Father is the husbandman.”—John 15:1
Blessed truth, and blessed assurance, to the true followers of Jesus. Yes, Almighty Father! I would pray for thy continual teaching, to behold thee as the husbandman of thy vineyard, the church, in which thou hast raised up the Plant of Renown, the Man whose name is the Branch, the true Vine, in whom, and upon whom, and through whom, all thy redeemed, taken from the olive-tree that is wild by nature, are grafted, and bring forth fruit unto God. Yes, Almighty Father! I would desire grace to behold thee, and while I behold, to love, to praise, to adore thee, that from everlasting thou hast graciously been the husbandman of thy church. It was in thee, and from thee, as the contriver andappointer of all that concerned redemption, we trace the fountain and source of all that grace, mercy, peace, and favour here, with all the unknown treasures of glory hereafter, which thou hast placed in his most blessed hands, who is the Lord our righteousness. In every renewed view of Jesus, as the true Vine, which thou hast planted; and in every renewed communication from his fulness, nourishment, and life-imparting influences; may it be my happy portion, Oh Lord, to eye thee, as the husbandman, while I feel and know my union in Jesus as the Vine. And do thou, most gracious God and Father, condescend to act the part of the kind husbandman still. Let thine eyes be upon me for good, as the husbandman visits his vineyard. Water, Lord, with the heavenly dew of thy word and Spirit, the dry and languishing plantation. Oh that the Lord may give showers of blessing, and that he may be to me as the latter, and as the former rain, upon the barrenness of my heart. Preserve me, Lord, from the wild boar of the wood, even Satan, that he may never tread me down. Weed out, Lord, the briers and thorns, even the corruptions of my own heart, which would twine themselves with the tender branches. And lop off, Oh Lord, all the superfluous shoots, even the world’s enticements, which might prevent fruitfulness in Jesus. In all things, blessed God and Father, be thou the kind, the tender, the wise husbandman, in doing for me what thou seest to be needful, however painful to flesh and blood the pruning dispensations and wintry providences may be found. Do thou purge, as Jesus hath said, every branch that beareth fruit, that it may bring forth more fruit; and by thy gracious Spirit so cause me to abide in Christ, and that Christ may abide in me, that thou, my God and Father, mayest be glorified in my bearing much fruit, to the praise of thy grace, wherein thou hast made me accepted in the beloved.
EVENING AUGUST 2
“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it.”—Gen 28:12
Visions of the night, such as the patriarchs were blessed with, serve to teach us how the Lord, in those early ages, watched over his people. And, my soul, I would have thee always take the sweet conclusion from the review of them, that if Jesus was thus mindful of his chosen then, depend upon it he is not less attentive now. There can be no difficulty, it should seem, interpreting this vision of the patriarch Jacob’s ladder, after what Jesus told Nathaniel of the ascent and descent of the angels upon the Son of man, John 1:51. Under such an authority, we need not hesitate to consider Christ as the only communication, the only medium of intercourse between heaven and earth; John 14:6. And if the patriarch saw, in a vision, a ladder, with its foot on the earth, and its top reaching to heaven, thus uniting both; were not these representations of Jesus, as Emmanuel, his human nature and his divine: thus uniting such vast extremes, and forming in both, one glorious Mediator, to bring sinners to God, and bring down grace upon the earth? And as Jehovah stood above it, in the patriarch’s view, what was this but to shew the authority of Christ, as the Christ of God? Precious addition to the vision indeed, for this is the warrant of faith in believing “the record that God hath given of his Son. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” Blessed Emmanuel! I hail thy glorious person! I bow down to the earth in humble adoration, love, and praise! I view thee, O Lord, as the only mediation for my precious soul; and desire to renounce every other! Witness for me, ye angels of light, who minister to the heirs of salvation, that on my bended knees, in transports of rejoicing, I bless God for having opened such a new and living way for poor sinners; and very humbly and earnestly do I beg of him, that my God will unceasingly make sweet communications of grace by Jesus, and call forth the suitable returns, in love, and praise and obedience, through Jesus, in my soul, until faith is swallowed up in absolute enjoyment, and that blessed hour, which Jesus promised, be fulfilled, when I shall see heaven open, and “the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
MORNING AUGUST 3
“Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”—Gen 22:12
My soul, ponder these words. By whom were they spoken? It is said by the angel of the Lord; probably the messenger of the covenant; he, who in the fulness of time, was to make known, face to face, to all Abraham’s seed, the whole revelation of Jehovah concerning redemption. It was a critical moment in Abraham’s life, and a trying moment to his faith. It is said, “Now I know.” Did not the Lord know before? Oh yes; but he that gave Abraham the faith, now afforded an opportunity for the exercise of it. My soul, how blessed is it to remark, that the largest gifts of grace are dispensed, when there is the largest occasion for them. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” [Deut 33:25] And, my soul, do not forget to remark also, that our Isaacs, our children, our earthly comforts, are most likely to be continued to us, when the Lord gives grace and faith to be most ready at his holy will to part with them. When I can say, Lord, all that thou hast given me is thine; and if thou art pleased to take all, or any, part back again, still it is thine own—not mine, but lent. Oh, for grace, like Abraham, to bless a taking God, as well as a giving God, and to withhold nothing from him. Pause, my soul, one moment longer over this precious portion. Is there nothing more to be gathered from it? Look again; read it over once more. Pass beyond Abraham, and contemplate the God of Abraham, and see if thou canst not discover the infinite, unequalled, astonishing love of God the Father typified in this solemn transaction; and while we behold Abraham, at the call of God, giving up his son, his only son; may we not behold God, uncalled, unsought, and without any one cause but his own free everlasting love, giving up his only begotten Son, as a sacrifice for the redemption of his people? The patriarch gave up his son but in intention; but God in reality. And, my soul, what oughtest thou now to say to God in the view of this transaction? Methinks I find authority, from these sweet words, to make a paraphrase upon them, and to make application of them, for all and every circumstance with which I may be exercised; and, looking up to God my Father in Christ Jesus, I would say, ‘Now, O Lord and Father, I know thou dost love a poor, sinful, unworthy worm as I am, seeing thou hast not withheld thy Son, thine only Son from me.’
EVENING AUGUST 3
“A ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.”—Acts 24:5
My soul! hast thou arrived at that station of dignity, to be reproached for Christ’s sake? If so, thou wilt enter into a proper sense and enjoyment of the title Paul was branded with; a ringleader, or a standardbearer of the cross. One who, not content with receiving Christ into his own heart, determines, let the cost be what it may, the loss of reputation or of life, to proclaim Jesus upon the housetop. This is to be a ringleader! An honourable station! and one that Jesus loves! Jesus himself was Jehovah’s ringleader, for he saith, “In that day, there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious.” Isa 11:10. And elsewhere, Jehovah saith, “Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.” Isa 55:4. My soul, hast thou taken part in the reproaches of God’s choicest servants? It is impossible to be a true follower of the despised Nazarene, unless thou hast followed him “without the camp, bearing his reproach.” The world, from the days of Cain, in his persecution of Abel, hath, in all ages, branded the ringleaders of the Lord’s cause. The servants were treated as the master. His prophets, “troublers of the land,” Amos 7:10. His city, always “a rebellious city,” Ezra 4:15. Yea, Jesus himself, as “one perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar,” Luke 23:2. Precious Lord! could not thy meek, harmless, and inoffensive conduct pass on without this censure; then who can hope to escape? I know, Lord, that to hold thee up, and proclaim thee as Jehovah’s ensign to the nation, is to be indeed a ringleader of the cross, against which all hell must wage war, and all the powers of this world’s customs will declare enmity. But be thou my standard, and I shall be more than conqueror, through thy grace helping me. Oh! let me unceasingly speak thy praise, and let the fathers to the children make known thy truth.
MORNING AUGUST 4
“And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.”—Ps 107:7
My soul, what are thy daily exercises concerning the way the Lord thy God is leading thee through a wilderness dispensation? Art thou convinced that it is the right way? What if it be a thorny way, a tempted way, frequently a dark way; yet art thou satisfied that it is the rightway, because it is thorny, tempted, dark, and with numberless other exercises. This is the plan to judge by. And though, my soul, I trust thou hast grace enough given thee to see and know, in thy cool hours of thought, that whatever thy God appoints must be right, and his holy will must be done; yet there is an exercise of grace which goes much beyond these views of the subject, and which a believer is enabled to bring into practice, when he not only submits to a painful dispensation, but rejoiceth in it, because it is the right way. When he saith, I am afflicted; but afflictions are useful. I am in dark and trying circumstances; but these also are useful. I am buffeted by Satan; but this also I find to be right, because Christ is the more endeared thereby, and his strength is perfected in my weakness. My God is bringing me by a right way, to a city of habitation. Of this I am sure. And every step leading to the final attainment, is already marked by infinite wisdom, and provided for by infinite love; and Jesus himself is with me through all the pilgrimage. Hence then, I conclude, that if at any time I am at a loss to see my way, to find comfort in my way, or if I am obstructed in my way, still it is the right way, because Jesus himself is the way, and his unerring wisdom is in the appointment. Oh for grace in lively exercise, to be as satisfied now of all the dispensations concerning the church and people, as when of old, in the wilderness! The Lord is leading forth by a right way, to bring to a city of habitation, whose builder and maker is God.
EVENING AUGUST 4
“But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”—Ps 130:4
My soul, this is a golden psalm, and every portion of it more ponderous in value than the choicest gold of Ophir; and this verse is as the tried gold, to ascertain the purity and value of all the rest. The cries of a truly broken heart, from the depth of sin to the depth of divine mercy, with which the psalm opens, prove the work of the Holy Ghost, imparting the words with which the humbled soul comes before the Lord. And the blessed consolations which this verse contains, in the view of the mercyseat, and the mercy there (which is all-precious Jesus, the firstborn in the womb of mercy; yea, mercy itself) as plainly prove the leadings of the Holy Ghost to him, who alone can say, “Oh Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help!” Ponder, my soul, these precious words: “But there is forgiveness with thee.” Is it not as if thou wert to say to thy God and Father, when under deep searchings of heart by reason of conscious sin, ‘There is Jesus with thee; he is my propitiation; he is my propitiatory, the mercyseat, between the cherubim of glory; in whom, and from whom, thou hast promised to speak to thy people! And shall I doubt thy pardoning love and favour, as long as I behold Jesus with thee? Shall I for a moment question my acceptance in the beloved, while I behold “the man at thy right hand, even the Son of man, whom thou madest strong for thyself?” Shall I fear coming to a God in Christ for pardon, so long as I am interested in the forgiveness that is with thee, in God the Son’s righteousness and atoning blood; and God the Father’s covenant engagements in him, for the display of the glory of his grace?’ Oh, how unanswerably strong, conclusive, and satisfactory, to a poor burdened conscience, is this view of Jesus, the propitiatory; Jesus the propitiation! But what is the meaning of the expression in the latter part of the verse; “there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared?” Would not the verse read better if it were said, that thou mayest beloved? Oh no; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And although “perfect love casteth out fear,” that is, the fear of hell, the bondage fear of unpardoned sin; yet, the child-like fear, which a sense of pardoning love begets in the soul, is among the sweetest exercises of the renewed nature. Devils fear and tremble, and feel despair and horror; but the affectionate fear of a dutiful child is the reverse of this, and only manifests itself in the most earnest desire never to offend. And the sense of God’s forgiving love, and of Jesus always on the propitiatory, becomes the great preservative from sin. Hence the Lord himself saith, “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me,” Jer 32:40. My soul, fold up this sweet portion, and take it with thee to thy pillow, that it may lie down with thee, and rest in thine heart; that Jesus, thy Jesus, thy propitiation, is with Jehovah, that thou mayest fear him; and he may be thy exceeding joy and confidence, both now and for ever. Amen.
MORNING AUGUST 5
“Therefore, thus saith the Lord, I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies.”—Zech 1:16
My soul, think what a sad state that land, that church, that family, that heart is in, where God withdraws but for a moment! This will be one way of rightly appreciating his presence. What a mercy, what an unspeakable mercy is it when God returns! For until he returns in grace, there will be no return to him in a way of seeking mercy. Pause, my soul, over the thought. Though a child of God loseth not the interest and favour of God in his covenant, because what unworthiness soever, as in ourselves, we must appear in before God, yet in Christ there is an everlasting worthiness, in which his people are accepted and beloved: yet if the Lord suspends his gracious influences on the soul; if Jesus speaks neither by Urim nor Thummim; if the Holy Ghost, though at home in the heart, manifests not himself to the heart; what shall the soul do? Ordinances are nothing if the God of ordinances be not in them. To look inward, the soul finds no peace. To look upward, there can be no comfort. For if the Lord commands the clouds to pour no rain upon his inheritance, their heaven is as brass, and their earth as iron. Hast thou, my soul, experienced trying seasons; and, though convinced of an interest in Jesus, hast thou languished after the sweet and blessed visits of his grace? Listen then to this precious scripture, “I am returned, saith the Lord unto Jerusalem with mercies.” Welcome, Lord, to my soul, to my heart! Thy presence is better than life itself. And the mercies thou hast brought with thee, in pardoning, quickening, renewing, reviving, comforting, strengthening me, will put more joy in my heart than thousands of gold and silver. There will be no barren ordinances, no barren hearts, no barren land, where our God comes. Thou hast said, “I will be as the dew unto Israel.” Oh what a revival in my poor heart; what a revival will thy presence make in my family; what a revival in thy churches; what a revival in this dear land of our nativity! Oh come, Lord Jesus, come in our midst; and let us hear thee say, “I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies.” “Thou shalt no more be termed forsaken, neither shall thy land any more be termed desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”
EVENING AUGUST 5
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”—Rev 3:21
My soul! let this evening’s meditation be sacred, in contemplating Jesus, even thy Jesus, sitting down on the throne of his Father, having overcome all opposition, and triumphed by his cross, over death, sin, and hell! And in this contemplation, be sure that thou behold Jesus in thy nature; for it is in that nature the victory was obtained. The Son of God, as God, had no throne to obtain by overcoming; neither could a throne be given to him; for all things were his in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost, in the one glorious essence of the Godhead, from all eternity. So that it is in the human nature of Christ, these triumphs are set forth; and as the glory-man Mediator, thou art called upon to behold him, for his victories, and the merits of his redemption-work, as sat down in the throne. Sweet thought! cherish it my soul, as the first, and best, and most glorious of all thoughts! Thy Jesus, in thy nature, is on his throne. And now, when with an eye of faith thou art viewing him there, next hear the blessed and gracious words which come from him, on his throne: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me.” Blessed Lord! Is it possible, that my poor nature can ever arrive to such unspeakable felicity? Can I venture to cherish such a hope? What! shall this poor, feeble, trembling nature of mine, encompassed as it is with sin and temptation, and in the midst of a waste and howling wilderness; shall I one day sit down with my Lord, see him as he is, and dwell with him for ever? Oh! for faith to believe, and for grace in lively exercise, “to run with patience the race that is set before me, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher, both of faith and salvation!” And shall I not, dearest Lord, be continually gathering new strength from thee? Will not Jesus, who hath taken my nature, undertaken my cause, and engaged as my surety, both for grace and for glory, be every thing I need, my light, and my life, my hope, and strength, and salvation? Yes! thou gracious Lord! thou wilt make me more than conqueror through thy grace upholding me; and, like the redeemed now in glory, I shall overcome “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of thy testimony;” and sit down with thee in thy throne, even as thou hast overcome, and art sat down in thy Father’s throne. Hallelujah. Amen.
MORNING AUGUST 6
“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.”—Song 8:6
My soul, is this the language of thine heart to Jesus? Yes, it is. Can any desire to be nearer Christ than thee? Can any long more to be worn as a signet upon his arm, and to lay nearer his heart than thee? And can any desire more than thou dost, to be sealed with his Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption? Surely, my soul, thou longest earnestly for these precious things, that that arm of Jesus, on which thou wouldest be set as a seal, may be ever clasping thee; and that heart of thy Redeemer’s upon which thou art engraven, as the high priest bore the names of the people of Israel, may be always folding thee, and bearing both thy person and thy wants before the throne, and thus unceasing fellowship may abound with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And canst thou not say, as the church did to Jesus, “For love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave?” For as death conquers all, and the grave admits of no rival, so thy love to Jesus, which he hath panted in thine heart hath conquered thee; and no rival, no partner, can divide the throne of thine heart with Jesus? Every thing in thee concerning Jesus, is as though on fire; and all the flames of thine affection burn with this language, “Whom have I in heaven but thee; and there is none upon earth I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; thou art the strength of my heart, and thou art my portion for ever.” But pause, my soul, is there not somewhat, in those precious words of the morning, in which Jesus may be supposed to say the same to thee? Surely, my soul, if thou lovest him, it is because he first loved thee! And if the real cry of thine heart is to be set as a seal upon his heart, and upon his arm, depend upon it, it is because he hath been before hand with thee in both. Precious Redeemer! and dost thou indeed bid me set thee in my heart, and on my arm? Lord Jesus, I would wear thee in my heart. I would never, never suffer thee to depart from my arms. I would feel thee inward, manifest thee by every outward testimony; and as seals upon the arm and upon the breast are in sight, so would I set thee always before me, and tell the whole earth whose I am, and whom I love; that whither thou goest I would go, and where thou dwellest I would dwell: for I am no longer my own, but am bought with a price; therefore I would glorify God in my body, and in my spirit, which are his.
EVENING AUGUST 6
“(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”—Phil 3:18-19
My soul! hast thou not felt somewhat of the affliction of the apostle, in beholding how the great mass of carnal men live, and for the most part die? Nay, who can look on and view it without tears? The apostle hath enclosed the view within parenthesis, and it were to be wished, that indeed it was no where to be found but in parenthesis. But, alas! the truth is too striking, too palpable, and meets the contemplative mind at too many entrances and passages through the world, not to shew that it is far more general than is imagined. By our apostacy from God, man, that was originally exalted above the whole creation, is sunk below the whole: for no creature of God, among the brutes that perish, ever arrived to such a proficiency in sensuality, as to glory in that which constitutes our disgrace and shame! Brutes may riot in gorging their corrupt passions: but it is the human brute alone that glories in the reflection! Hence, of all the creatures of God, none, by nature, can be more remote from God, devils excepted, than fallen man! None, in whose minds Satan could find a seat to rule and reign, but man! And while, by nature, thus exposed to perish, for any act of our own by which we could do aught to prevent it; yea, without even a desire to prevent it, or a knowledge of the awful depths of sin into which we are fallen, in order to send forth a cry for recovery: while thus living, and thus dying, at an everlasting distance from God, at once the scorn of angels, and the willing slaves of the devil. As in the delirium of a fever, so in the madness of the mind, the poor creature that is under the dominion of it, is unconscious of the whole, and glories in that which is his shame, and which melts every heart into pity, but the heart of fiends and the powers of darkness! My soul! hast thou duly considered these things? Dost thou behold, as Paul did, many around thee, that thus walk? Dost thou remember when thou didst so walk? Dost thou call to mind “the wormwood and the gall?” And canst thou ever overlook, or forget, who it was that brought thee out? Canst thou cease to remember when and where the Lord Jesus passed by, and took thee up in his arms, when thou wast loathsome in thy person to every eye but his; and when he, like the divine Samaritan to the wounded traveller, brought thee to the inn of his church, when thou wast left more than half dead by the enemy of souls? Oh! precious, precious Lord Jesus! the more I contemplate thy glorious person, and thy gracious mercy to our poor fallen nature, the more unceasingly lovely dost thou appear. There was indeed, and is, “a love that passeth knowledge!” Oh! for grace to reverence these bodies of ours, which thou hast redeemed; that while the carnal glory in their shame, all the redeemed may cry out, with the holy indignation of the apostle, and say, as he did, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world,” Gal 6:14.
MORNING AUGUST 7
“A friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”—Prov 18:24
And who is this, my soul; indeed, who can it be, but Jesus? None among the fallen race of Adam could ever redeem his brother; or, if he could, would have done it, at the expence of his own soul. But Jesus did all this, and more, when our cause was desperate, and gave himself a ransom for his redeemed. Oh for grace to mark the features of his love. It began in eternity, it runs through all time, and continues everlasting. As Jesus is himself, so is he in his love; the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. And how hath heshewn it? First, by engaging as our Surety; then paying all our debts; fulfilling the whole law; purchasing our persons; undertaking for our duty; nay, even to the conquering the stubbornness of our nature, and making us willing to be saved in the day of his power! And what is it now? Having accomplished redemption for us by his blood, he is gone to take possession of a kingdom in our name. There he still manifests “the friend that sticketh closer than a brother;” for he takes up all our causes, pleads our suits, and makes every case his own. And by and by he will come to take us to himself, that where he is, there we may be also. In the mean time he supplies all our wants, and this with a freeness,fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency, that knows no bounds, to manifest the unalterable friendship which he bears us. He visits us continually, sympathises with us in all our afflictions, and increases with his tender love the enjoyment of all our comforts; and all this, and a thousand other nameless, numberless tokens, Jesus is continually shewing, as proves that his whole heart and soul is ours. So that he is a faithful, loving, constant, powerful, kind, everlasting, unchanging Friend, that sticketh closer than a brother. My soul, what wilt thou say to such a Friend? How wilt thou love him? Oh precious Lord, when I think of thy love and my ingratitude—but Lord, it is thine to love, thine to pity, thine to pardon. Lord, give me grace to appropriate thee to myself; and while thou art still saying to me, and to thy church, “I have called you friends,” may I say, “This is my Friend, and this is my Beloved, O daughters of Jerusalem!”
EVENING AUGUST 7
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour.”—Heb 2:9
Mark, my soul, the very sweet and peculiar manner in which God the Holy Ghost here speaks of Jesus. He was “made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death.” Yes! a body, such as ours, was given him, for the express purpose of suffering. Our nature, by reason of sin, required a sacrifice for sin. It behoved him, therefore, to be in all things like unto his brethren. But when he had made his soul an offering for sin, he for ever sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. To none of the angels was it ever said, “Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Now ponder these blessed things, and then say, whether thou hast so seen Jesus? If so, thou hast seen thy nature, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, not only exalted above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; but thou hast seen him “crowned with glory and honour,” as the head of his body the church. I charge it upon thee, my soul, that in all thy views of the Lord Jesus, as a risen and exalted Saviour, thou for ever connect with it, and never lose sight of it, that it is Jesus, as Jesus in his human nature, that is so exalted, so honoured, and glorified. It would be no honour, but rather a degradation of the Son of God, as God, to say such things of him, as being made, or receiving a throne, or having glory given to him. All power, sovereignty, and might, were his before. But when we behold Jesus as “made a little lower than the angels,” and becoming Mediator, he stands forth the servant of Jehovah, redeeming his church and people; and, as such, “for the suffering of death,” is” crowned with glory and honour.” And Oh! how blessed the view! For if he was thus crowned in our nature, then surely he will have respect to our nature in all the wants of his people. If he be exalted in our nature, surely he is exalted in that nature “as a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.” And if it be the same Lord Jesus, whose head is now crowned with glory, that was once crowned with thorns: Oh! with what humble confidence may a poor sinner, such as I am, look up, and tell him of the glories of his cross, now shining with tenfold lustre in the glories of his crown! Shall I not hope, dear Lord! by the sweet influences of thy blessed Spirit, to make every day a coronation day, when by faith I crown thee my true and lawful Sovereign, desiring to bring every thought and affection of my poor heart into obedience to thee, to bow the knee of my heart before thee, and with holy joy “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father?” Amen.
MORNING AUGUST 8
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”—2 Tim 4:8
Pause, my soul, over this blessed verse, and mark the very weighty things contained in it. Many a soul is for deferring the thoughts of this great day of God, and conclude, that the justification of the sinner cannot be known until the day of judgment. But, my soul, see to it, that thou art for bringing the firm and unshaken belief of it into immediate possession and enjoyment now; for surely Jesus hath effectually and fully provided for it. “Whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” See to it then, my soul, that thou dost not suffer thyself to live a day, no, not an hour, in a state of uncertainty upon a point of such infinite consequence, in which the pardon of thy sins, and the justification of thy person before God, is so highly concerned. If Jesus be thy Surety, his righteousness and blood must be thy full justification before God, and his salvation as much now as it will ever be. Pause then, and ask thine heart, dost thou love his appearing? Suppose the trump of God was this moment to sound, wouldest thou love his appearing? No doubt the moment would be solemn, but would it not be glorious? Is Jesus thine; his righteousness thine; his blood thy ransom? Wouldest thou love his appearing if these things were sure? And what makes them not sure? Art thou looking to any other righteousness? Hast thou not disclaimed all other saviours? Ask thyself again; dost thou love his appearing, in the season of ordinances, providences, retirements; in his word, in the visits of his grace; at his table, his house of prayer, among his churches, his people? Dost thou love his appearing in the conversion of every poor sinner; and doth the same make thee to rejoice over the recovery of such as angels do, when one repents? My soul, let these things be among thy daily meditations concerning Jesus; for then will thy meditation of him be sweet. And by thus making the justification of thy person in the blood and righteousness of Jesus thy daily comfort, thou wilt be prepared to love his appearing, in death, and finally at judgment; that when the Master comes, and calleth for thee, thou mayest arise with holy joy, and mount up to meet the Lord in the air, and receive that crown of Jesus’s righteousness which fadeth not away.
EVENING AUGUST 8
“And the Lord said unto Moses, is the Lord’s hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee, or not.”—Num 11:23
Is it not an extraordinary thing in the history of Moses, that he, who had seen the miracles in Egypt, should stagger at God’s promises to feed his people with a new supply in the wilderness? Had Moses forgotten the rock which gave water, or the daily supply of manna? But pause, my soul! look not at Moses; look at home. What wonders hath thy God wrought for thee! and yet what doubts, and fears, and questionings, are continually arising in thy mind. Is there a child of God on earth, more apt to reason with flesh and blood than thou art? And is there a child of God, that hath less reason so to do? Dearest Lord! I blush to think how slender, at times, my faith is! When I read of the acts of those heroes in the gospel, who “through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions,” and the like, I take shame and confusion of face, in the review of my unbelieving heart. Did Joshua bid the sun and moon to stand still; did Peter smite Ananias and Sapphira dead; yea, did he even call Tabitha from the dead, by virtue of faith in Jesus; and am I so much at a loss, at times, as to fear that I shall one day perish by the hand of the enemy? Oh, Lord! I beseech thee, strengthen my soul in this grace, that I may never more question the divine faithfulness. And do thou, blessed Jesus, pour in thy resources upon my poor forgetful and unbelieving heart, when doubts, and fears, and misgivings arise. Give me to see, that in all my journey past, thou hast brought me through difficulties and dangers, and that “thy strength is made perfect in my weakness.” What are all intervening difficulties, when Jesus undertakes for his people? Nay, the very obstruction, be it what it may, is but the more for the display of thy glory, and the exercise of my faith. Help me then, O Lord, to look to thee, and not to the difficulty, with which I have nothing to do. It is enough for me, that my God hath promised, and my God can and will perform. How Jesus will accomplish it, is his concern, and not mine. He is faithful; he hath promised; and that is sufficient: the issue is not doubtful. Yea, Lord! I know thine hand is not shortened, and all that thou hast said must come to pass. “Faithful is he that hath promised, who also will do it!”
MORNING AUGUST 9
“And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it: it shall not be put out. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar: it shall never go out.”—Lev 6:12-13
Pause, my soul! behold the precept in one verse, and the promise in the other. The Israelites was not to put out this altar fire; and Jehovah promised that it should never go out. Neither did it, through all the Jewish church, until Christ came. And if it be true that it actually did expire (as it is said it did) the very year Christ died, what is this but a confirmation of the grand truth of God concerning the putting away of sin by the blood of Christ? For is not fire an emblem, through all the scriptures, of Jehovah’s displeasure against sin? Is not God said to be a consuming fire? And by its burning, and that miraculously preserved under all the Jewish dispensation, is it not meant to manifest Jehovah’s perpetual wrath, burning like fire against sin? And as the fire was never extinguished upon the altar, notwithstanding the numerous sacrifices offered, can any thing more decidedly prove the inefficacy of sacrifices under the law, how expensive soever they were, to take away sin? And is the fire now gone out? Hath God himself indeed put it out! Then hath he accepted that one offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, who came to put away sin, and hath for ever put it away by the sacrifice of himself. Hail, thou great, thou glorious, thou everlasting Redeemer! Thou art indeed both the High Priest and the altar, both the Sacrifice and the Sacrificer, whose one offering hath both put out the fire of divine wrath, and caused the holy flame of love and peace to burn in its stead, which hath kindled in every heart of thy people. Yes, yes, thou Lamb of God, it is thou which hast delivered us from the wrath to come! Thou hast made our peace in the blood of thy cross. Thou hast quenched, by thy blood the just fire of divine indignation against sin. Thou hast quenched no less all the fiery darts of Satan. Thou hast subdued the flaming enmity of our hearts, with all their fiery lusts and burning affections. What shall I say to thee, what shall I say of thee, what shall I proclaim concerning thee, Oh thou, the Lord our righteousness? Lord, help me to begin the song, and never suffer sin or Satan—nay, death itself, for a moment, to make an interruption in the heavenly note; but let thy name fill my whole soul, and vibrate on my dying lips, that I may open my eyes in eternity, while the words still hang there: “To him who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God and the Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
EVENING AUGUST 9
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”—John 12:32
My soul! it is blessed, and refreshing to the faith of God’s children, to behold, in their almighty Redeemer, the same properties as are ascribed to the Father and the Spirit; and more especially in the points which concern their personal salvation. Jesus told the Jews, that none could come to him, “except the Father, who had sent him, should draw them;” John 6:44. And in the same chapter, he ascribes “the quickening power,” which draws to Christ, unto the Holy Spirit, John 6:63. But that his own sovereign power and Godhead is also included in this act of grace, he here teacheth us, by describing whose love and grace it is that sinners are drawn by! Precious Lord Jesus! let mine eyes be ever unto thee for the quickening, reviving, restoring, comforting, and all healing graces, which thou now art exalted, as a Prince and a Saviour to give unto thy people. And dearest Lord! I beseech thee, let my views of thee, and my meditation of thee, in this most endearing character, be sweet in the consideration also, that thou, as the head of thy church and people, must be the head of all spiritual, life-giving influences. Surely, blessed Jesus, the head cannot be happy, if the members be not made blessed; the source and fountain of all goodness must needs send forth streams to impart of its overflowingfulness. And is it not for this very purpose, that as God-man Mediator, “the Father hath given thee power over all flesh, that thou shouldest give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given thee?” John 17:2. And will not Jesus delight to dispense all blessings to his people, to his chosen, that are the purchase of his blood, and the gift of his Father, and the conquests of his grace? I feel my soul warmed with the very thought! I say to myself, ‘Did my Lord and Saviour say, when upon earth, that he was “anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, and to give out of his fulness grace for grace?” And did my Lord say, moreover, that when “he was lifted up, he would draw all men unto him?” And shall I not feel the drawing, the constraining graces of his Spirit, bringing my whole heart, and soul, and spirit into an unceasing desire after him, and unceasing longing for him, and an everlasting enjoyment of him?’ Precious, blessed Lord Jesus! let the morning, noonday, and evening cry of my heart be in the language of the church of old, and let the cry be awakened by thy grace, and answered in thy mercy: “Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee; we will remember thy love more than wine;” Song 1:4.
MORNING AUGUST 10
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.”—2 Tim 1:9
Mark, my soul, all the precious things, if thou hast power or time to do so, which are contained in this blessed scripture. Eternity itself will not be sufficient to allow space to enumerate them; neither will thy ripened faculties, even when full-blown and full-fruited, be found sufficient to enter into the complete apprehension of them all. Who is it that is here said to have saved us, and called us with an holy calling, but the holy, glorious, undivided Jehovah, existing in a threefold character of Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? For all have concurred in that blessed work; and all, in the essence of the One Jehovah, must have the joint praise and the joint glory to all eternity. Well, then, put thy salvation down to this glorious account: it is God who hath saved and called thee. Next, mark the order here set forth. Thou art said to be saved before thou art said to be called. Mark that! salvation precedes our knowledge of it. The covenant engagements of the AlmightyCovenanters took place from everlasting. For so saith the apostle concerning the hopes of happiness founded on salvation: “In hope,” saith he, “of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” Next, my soul, take notice of the call itself. It is an holy call: for we are called to the fellowship and communion of Jesus Christ. “And as he who hath called us is holy, so are we called to be holy, in all manner of conversation and godliness.” See to it, my soul, that thy fellowship and communion is in the holiness and sin-atoning blood of Jesus. Lastly, never, my soul, lose sight of the cause of these unspeakable mercies—no, not for a moment. ”We are saved and called, not according to our works, but according to his purpose.” Hence, what is God’s gift, cannot be man’s merit; and what resulted from infinite love, from all eternity, cannot flow from creature love in time. Blessed purpose, and blessed grace: and thrice-blessed, being given to us in God’s dear Son, even Christ Jesus, before the world began!
EVENING AUGUST 10
“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”—Heb 1:14
My soul, art thou an heir of salvation? Think then of thy high privilege. “If,” saith an apostle, “we are children, then heirs, yea, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,” Rom 8:17. Though in this life, we be in a state of childhood, and, under age, yet by adoption and grace, we are made “heirs of God.” Not like men of the world, in their earthly portions, where only one in a family can be the heir, and that the firstborn; but all the church are included, for the church itself is called “the firstborn which are written in heaven,” Heb 12:23. And in this heaven-born inheritance, thou hast, my soul, if thou be a child of God, a portion in God thy Father; for all his people are a nation of spiritual priests, who, like Aaron of old, “have the Lord for their portion,” Num 18:20. Yea, by virtue of thy union to Christ, who, as God-man Mediator, is “heir of all things,” thou art interested in all things which are his, by virtue of his mediation. Oh, the rapturous thought! But do not stop here. By reason of this heirship, behold thy high dignity! Angels, who are high in intellect, disembodied spirits, and who excel in wisdom and in power, are servants in thine Emmanuel’s kingdom, to minister unto thee, and to all thy brethren in Jesus who are heirs of salvation. Oh! couldest thou see how they watch over thee, how they guard thee from a thousand evils; didst thou but know how eternally safe thou art amidst a host of foes, which come against thee; then, like the prophet’s servant, thou wouldest frequently see, by the eye of faith, “the mountain around thee full of horses and chariots of fire,” 2 Kings 6:17. And who shall say to what extent their ministry is exercised? If a single angel destroyed seventy thousand in the host of Israel, at the command of God, (2 Sam 24:15) and a hundred and fourscore and five thousand of the Assyrians which came forth against Israel, (2 Kings 19:35.) what may not the child of God hope for, who is an heir of salvation, from the perpetual ministry of these ministering spirits? Oh! thou dear Lord, cause thine holy angels thus, by night and day, to take their stand, and watch over my defenceless hours! And, yet more than this, my adored Redeemer! come thou, and bless me with the unceasing visits of thy love, and say to me, as to thy church of old; “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” Isa 41:10.
MORNING AUGUST 11
“By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.”—Heb 11:4
The Holy Ghost hath here marked down, by his servant the apostle, in the very first offerings which we read of in the bible, the vast importance of faith; by which it most decidedly proves, that it is faith which gives efficacy to all the offerings of his creatures. Faith in what? Nay—there can be but one view of faith throughout the word of God; namely, faith in the promised seed to bruise the serpent’s head. This was the first promise which came in upon the fall. Every offering, therefore, offered unto God, unless it had an eye to this, became offensive. Cain did not offer the firstfruits of the ground with an eye of faith in Christ—hence, he was the first deist the world ever knew. Abel, by faith, offered thefirstlings of his flock with an eye to Jesus—and hence the testimony that God respected his offering. What a striking evidence is here, my soul, of the vast and infinite importance of faith. Cain made an offering to God, and by so doing, he did, as the deists now do, acknowledge God to be his Creator; but not looking to him as a Redeemer, and thereby intimating that he needed none, both his person and his offering were rejected. Meditate on this, my soul, and learn by grace to mix faith in all that concerns thy soul. Oh keep an eye on Jesus, convinced that “there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” And if, through the gracious teachings of the Spirit, in taking of the things of Jesus, and shewing them unto thee, thou art able daily to apprehend by faith, and bring him (as the bee doth from the flower) his person, his work, his character, his relations, his grace, and righteousness, as the sent, and sealed, and anointed, of the Father, full of grace and truth; by thus living upon him, and living to him, and making him what he is to all his people, the Alpha and Omega of thy salvation; faith in him will give a sweet leaven to all thy poor prayers, and praises, and offerings, and thou wilt find favour with God, to the praise of the glory of his grace, who maketh thee accepted in the Beloved.
EVENING AUGUST 11
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation.”—Phil 2:6-7
My soul, after all thy meditations upon the person of thy Lord, how very far short hast thou come in thy thoughts of the unequalledhumility of the Son of God! Let thy present evening’s contemplation be on this subject. But where, and at what part shall I enter upon it. Who shall speak, or what heart conceive the wonders contained in it! Blessed Spirit of all truth! do thou glorify the Lord Jesus to my evening meditation, in this interesting view of his person. He that, before all worlds, lay in the bosom of the Father, and was attended by the services of legions of angels, condescended to be made not only flesh, but in the likeness of sinful flesh; to be born in a stable, and to sleep in a manger; to advance in human intellect, and grow in wisdom and in stature; to labour for bread, and to gain that bread by the sweat of the brow; and, having spent an eternity in glory with the Father, to spend thirty years in poverty and want among men! Go on, my soul, in the meditation. Follow Jesus till thou hast beheld him, not only having no where to lay his head, but becoming the scorn and sport of the multitude; and he, who had been, and still was, and ever will be the delight and glory of the Father, branded by men, even by many of them he came to save, as a blasphemer, and one that had a devil! Sit down and ponder over these wonderful things; and then ask, what can raise affections in the soul, if such views of Jesus do not? Think what must have been the Father’s love in giving his dear Son to such a purpose? and what must have been the Son’s love in coming? Then ask thyself, what indignities oughtest thou not to submit to among men, if called upon to such an exercise, while contemplating the unequalled humility of thy Redeemer? Dearest Lord Jesus! I blush in the moment of recollection, while beholding thy real glory thus veiled under the cloud of humiliation, to think how often for trifles, yea, less than trifles, the false pride of my poor fallen nature hath felt hurt at some fancied inattention from men. Oh! for the same mind to be in me “which was in Christ Jesus!” He made himself of no reputation!
MORNING AUGUST 12
“To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”—Hab 3:19
My soul, take down thine harp from the willow; and now the night is past, let the first of the morn find thee going forth, in the matin of praise, to the chief singer on all the instruments of his grace, which he hath strung thine heart to use to his glory. And who is this chief singer, but Jesus? Doth not the prophet say, “The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk in mine high places?” Surely he that is the Lord God of my salvation, is the chief singer, and chief musician of my song. And he that will be my portion, my everlasting portion in the upper world, will be my strength and song in this. Surely David would not have directed, as he hath, in such numberless places, his psalms to a singer among men, in the temple service, when the whole scope of the psalm itself treats of the Lord, and of his Christ. The root of the word singer, or musician itself, means the end. And “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Come then, my soul, strike up this morning this hymn of praise. God the Holy Ghost is exciting thee. It is he which points to Jesus. He shews the king in his beauty, and bids thee behold his suitableness, transcendent excellencies, grace, love, favour, glory. Carry, then, all thy concerns to this chief musician. Put forth all thy strength to praise him, that while Jesus is attentive to the hallelujahs of heaven, he may hear thy feeble note, amidst all the songs which are offered him, giving glory to his great name, from the uttermost parts of the earth. Follow the prophet’s example, and let the goings forth of thy warmest desires be to the chief singer on thy stringed instruments:—”The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth, and in my song will I praise him.”
EVENING AUGUST 12
“But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.”—Ps 106:35
Pause, my soul, over this view of God’s people of old. There is a natural disposition in the heart, to do and to live as others, in order to pass through life with as little reproach as possible; and, in the first face of things, what is called an innocent conformity to the world seems to be commendable and praiseworthy. But, alas! it is impossible to mingle with the carnal, and not to learn their works; and it is always dangerous to get on the confines of the enemy. In that blessed prayer, taught us by our Lord, we pray “not to be led into temptation;” and surely this implies, that we do not desire to lead ourselves into temptation. But this every child of God doth, that mingles unnecessarily with the world, or with the men of the world. The precept is positive to this purpose; “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.” And the blessing is as positive of the gracious effects that shall follow: “And I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” 2 Cor 6:17-18. My soul, do thou make a memorandum of this, for thou art too apt to forget it. How often hast thou been found in places and with persons, where the voice might have been heard speaking to thee, as unto the prophet, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” And often hast thou returned wounded from such society, where, to speak of him “whom thou lovest,” forms no part in the conversation; but where the frivolous and unprofitable discourse too plainly testifies that “neither is God in all their thoughts.” Precious Jesus! keep me, I beseech thee, from the heathen of every description and character, and suffer me “not to mingle with them, nor learn their works;” but let my whole heart be fixed on thee, considering how “thou didst endure such a contradiction of sinners against thyself,” that I may be never weary nor faint in mind.
MORNING AUGUST 13
“And every oblation of thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering: with all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt.”—Lev 2:13
Ponder over these words, my soul, and looking up for grace, and the divine teachings, see whether Jesus is not sweetly typified here. Was not Jesus the whole sum and substance of every offering under the law? The Holy Ghost taught the church this, when he said, “the law was a shadow of good things to come, but the body is of Christ.” And did not the church, by faith, behold him as the salt which seasoned and madesavoury the whole? Moreover, as all the sacrifices were wholly directed to typify him who knew no sin, but became sin for his people; the seasoning the sacrifice with salt, which was also a type of Christ’s purity and sinlessness, became a sweet representation, to denote that a sinner, when he came with his offering, came by faith; to intimate that he looked for acceptance in the Lord as his sacrifice, and for preservation in the salt of his grace, in Christ Jesus. And who then, among believers now, would ever approach without an eye to Jesus, and the seasoning with this salt all his poor offerings. Lord, grant that the salt of the covenant of my God may never be lacking; for where Jesus is not, there can be no acceptance. Lord, let me have this salt in myself, and may every renewed presentation of myself be there salted. Then shall I be as the salt of the earth, amidst not only the putrefaction of the world, but the corruptions of my own heart. Lord, say to us, and impart the blessing of thyself in saying it, “Have salt in yourselves;” and then shall we have peace with thee, and with one another.
EVENING AUGUST 13
“And they shall say unto the elders of his city, this our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die.”—Deut 21:20-21
My soul, pause over this Jewish precept. What a thundering command must it have been to flesh and blood! Think, how agonizing to the feelings of tender parents, to have come forth as the accusers of rebellious children, and gluttons and drunkards! What comfort could such have concerning them in their welfare of the life that now is, and what hope for that which is to tome? But, as if these distressing feelings were not enough, it is they, the very parents, which are here commanded to bring forward the charge to the elders against their own bowels, and they are to be the means of bringing them to death. But, painful as it must have been to flesh and blood, such were the triumphs of grace, that, by virtue of it, “all Israel was to hear and to fear;” and if God was honoured, and the evil of rebellion put away, the close was glorious. Better to follow a child to the grave, than follow that child to hell. Better to root out a noxious weed from Christ’s garden, the church, than that it should live, and bring forth and spread its deadly fruit. And is there not a sweet spiritual lesson in all this? Look at it, my soul, and see. Hast thou a stubborn and rebellious lust warring against the law of thy mind, and bringing thee into captivity to the law of sin, which is in thy members? And dost thou groan, as Paul groaned under it? Is it like a child in thine affection, that to destroy it is like plucking out an eye, or cutting off an arm? Do by it as the Lord commanded the poor oppressed father to do by his son. Bring it, be it what it may, not before the elders of thy people indeed, but before the Lord of heaven and earth; bring it to Jesus, and tell him of thy burden, and shew to him thy sorrow. I venture to believe, that he will give grace to crush it, and strength, like so many stones of the people, to beat it down in thine heart, and it will be to his glory, and to thy joy. Oh! the blessedness of bringing all to Jesus! He can, he will subdue the stubborn heart, break the power of the rebellious heart, restrain the propensity of the gluttonous or sottish heart, and give suited help to the several necessities of his people, so as to make the soul cry out, under the blessed strength imparted to our weakness, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me.” Help me then, dear Lord, and help all thy children, under their several infirmities, by thy Spirit, “to mortify the deeds of the body, that we may live.”
MORNING AUGUST 14
“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.”—Luke 18:7-8
My soul, mark for thy encouragement, in all thine approaches to a throne of grace, what Jesus here speaks, and never lose sight of it. Remember how well acquainted he, who came out of the bosom of the Father, must be with the Father’s mind and will towards his people, over and above the gracious exercise of his priestly office in their behalf. Now, my soil, do mark down distinctly what blessed things are here promised. First—God’s people are said in it to be his elect, his chosen, his jewels. “This people,” saith God, “I have formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.” Secondly—God’s people are a praying people; “they cry day and night to him;” they are unceasing in their applications; and they wrestle, like their father Jacob in prayer: “Lord, I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” Give me Jesus, and in him I shall have all things. He will subdue this corruption; he will soften this affliction; he will conquer Satan, and with him, all his temptations. Thirdly—God’s people will and must be exercised. There will be sometimes long silence at the throne. The enemy will endeavour to improve this to strengthen his temptation; he will suggest, God hath forgotten thee; he will return no more; he hath cast thee off.’ Lastly—mark what Jesus saith; “Shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” Yes, yes, he will, I tell you, saith one who could not be mistaken; “he will avenge them, and that speedily.” When the hour of deliverance comes, it shall come so sudden, so sweet, so unexpected, that all their long waiting shall be forgotten; and it shall seem as if that promise of answering before they called was in it. And he will not only bless them, but avenge them of their foes. And whence all this, my soul, but because he is the Father of mercies, and God of all consolation. His people are his chosen, the gift of his love, the purchase of Jesus’s blood, the conquests of his Holy Spirit. Lord, cause me ever to keep those precious things in remembrance, and to hang on, and hold out, and never, never to give over pleading in Jesus, until I hear that precious voice, “Be it unto thee, even as thou wilt.”
EVENING AUGUST 14
“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is the word of faith which we preach, that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”—Rom 10:8-10
My soul, behold the tenderness of God the Holy Ghost to his people, in order to prevent the possibility of error, in their knowledge and enjoyment of Christ. It is not difficult to attain a clear apprehension, whether a soul be in grace, or not; for here the point is most plainly set forth; “The word is nigh thee.” What word? The word of faith. Christ in the word, Christ in the promise, Christ himself the salvation of the sinner. And when a poor sinner hath been led to see who Christ is, and what he hath wrought, what he hath done for sinners, and what he is to them; the infinite glories of his person, the infinite perfection and completeness of his work, and the infinite suitableness of Jesus in every possible way that a poor sinner can need, by way of justification before God, and acceptance with God; then these blessed truths are so sweetly brought home to the heart and conscience of the enlightened sinner, by God the Holy Ghost, that he rests upon Christ as one perfectly satisfied with Christ, and neither seeks nor desires any other. So that by the lively actings of faith, the soul beholds Christ in the word, and in the promise, and takes him with both into his very soul, until Christ is fully “formed there the hope of glory.” Hence, both the outward confession of the mouth, and the inward enjoyment of the heart, have a beautiful correspondence; the one speaks what the other feels; “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” My soul, is not this faith? And if so, what can dispossess thee of it? What shall stop thy joy or confidence in Jesus a single hour? If Jesus, the untreated word, the promised word, the sum and substance of all the written word, be nigh thee, yea, in thy mouth and in thine heart; not only thine understanding knows Jesus, but thine heart lives upon Jesus; surely salvation is secure; yea, heaven itself is begun in the soul; for “this is life eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent!”
MORNING AUGUST 15
“The good will of him that dwelt in the bush.”—Deut 33:16
And who is this, my soul; who indeed can it be but Jesus? Surely he is the glorious person. It was good will, in the highest possible instance of it, that prompted his infinite mind, from everlasting, to love his people, to engage for them in suretyship engagements, and to stand up and come forth, at the call of God the Father, as the head of his body the church. It was a continuation of the same good will which prompted him, in the fulness of time, to assume our nature for the purposes of fulfilling those engagements. Then it was, indeed, he dwelt in the bush; for what is our nature, at the best, but a poor dry bramble bush, fit for burning? But yet, by Christ in it, so sustained, and so preserved, that though the bush burns with fire, even the fiery lusts of our corruptions, and the fiery darts of the wicked, and all the fiery opposition of the world, it shall not be consumed. Precious Jesus! what good will hast thou shewn, dost thou shew, and everlastingly wilt shew, to our poor nature, since thou hast been in it, and art now, indeed, the dweller in it. And did Moses, when dying, thus connect the first views of thy love, when from the burning bush thou didst make thyself known to him, as God tabernacling in our flesh, for the purpose of salvation, with his last views as he was closing his eyes to this world, and looking up to thee as God-man Mediator, and thus pray for thy good will to the church? Oh then, let my everyday meditation do the same. Lord Jesus, I would seek thee and thy good will beyond all the riches of the earth, and all the enjoyments of the world. Lord, I would never forget that it was thy good will which brought thee down from heaven; thy good will which prompted thee to die, to rise again, for poor sinners; thy good will which makes thee wash them from all their sins in thy blood; all the visits of thy grace here, all the glories of redemption hereafter; all are the purchase and the result of thy good will. Precious Lord, do thou, day by day, grant me renewed tokens of thy good will; and let those visits be so gracious, so sweet, and so continual, that I may think of nothing else, speak of nothing else, but the good will of my dweller in the bush. I would pray for grace to spend all the moments of my life here in receiving from thee grace and love, and bringing to thee love and praise, until thou shalt take me home to live at the fountain of thy good will, and the whole happiness of eternity consists in the praises of God and the Lamb, and in enjoying “the good will of him that dwelt in the hush.”
EVENING AUGUST 15
“Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.”—Ps 65:3
My soul, ponder over this important verse. It is but short, but it is full of precious things. Blessed the man that can, from his heart, make use of what is here said as his own experience! He hath learned much of Christ, that can do so. In a time when a sense of sin abounds, when comforts run low, and the rebellion of the remains of indwelling corruptions riseth high; when the enemy cometh in like a flood, and no answers return from the sanctuary; yea, when the very spirit of prayer fails, and the heaven that is over the head, is as brass, and the earth that is under the feet, is as iron; then to rest simply upon Christ, and to say, “Iniquities prevail against me!” I feel the dreadful consequences of a fallen state; but all those transgressions Jesus will purge them away; though the Canaanites are yet in the land, my almighty Joshua will, by little and little, drive them out before me, until they are utterly destroyed;” to say these things, and to know them, and, by a firm reliance on Jesus, to depend upon the accomplishment of them, is to have faith in lively exercise indeed! This is to rest on God the Father’s covenant engagement, and Jesus’s person and righteousness only, and at a time, when, of all others, perhaps faith is hard put to it, to call Christ our own. Oh! the blessedness of this state of the soul, when a sense of prevailing iniquities, instead of damping the actings of faith, becomes a stimulus to look to Jesus, and to call in his powerful hand to restrain, when a man is driven out of himself, to lay hold on the blessed Jesus! My soul, hast thou thus far advanced in the school of grace? Happy, happy indeed, if a daily sense of thy nothingness tends more and more to endear the Lord’s all-sufficiency! And blessed will be the final issue of that divine teaching which brings thee at last most low and humble at the feet of Jesus, content to be nothing, yea, worse than nothing, that Jesus may have all the glory, who is alone worthy of it, in the salvation of his people.
MORNING AUGUST 16
“I am black, but comely.”—Song 1:5
See, my soul, whether thine experience corresponds to that of the church. Hast thou learnt from God the Spirit what thou art in thyself? Art thou truly sensible of the many sins and corruptions which lurk under fair appearances; and that, from carrying about with thee a body of sin and death, as the apostle said he did, in thee, that is, in thy flesh, dwelleth no good thing? Dost thou appear not only black in thine own view, but art thou despised for Christ’s sake, and counted the offscouring of all things in the view of the world? Pause, my soul. Now look at the bright side. Art thou comely in Christ’s righteousness, which he hath put upon thee? Comely in the sweet sanctifying grace of the Holy Ghost dwelling in thee? Comely in the eyes of God the Father, from being accepted in Jesus the Beloved? Comely in church communion and fellowship, walking in the fear of God, and under the comforts of the Holy Ghost? What sayest thou, my soul, to these sweet but soul-searching testimonies? If thou canst now take up the language of the church: “I am black, but comely;” lowly in thine own eyes, self-loathing, self-despising, self-abhorring; but in Jesus rejoicing, and in his salvation triumphing all the day; think, my soul, what will it be when the King, in whose comeliness thou art comely, shall take thee home, as a bride adorned for her husband, and thou shalt then be found, “not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing,” but shalt be everlastingly holy, and without blame before him in love.
EVENING AUGUST 16
“Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.”—Isa 44:23
Come, my soul, and join this universal hymn of praise, this lovely evening. Surely, if the Lord, by his servant the prophet, calls upon all nature, both the animate and inanimate parts of creation, to join in the melody, well may “the redeemed of the Lord say so!” The heavens shall sing the song of redemption; for angels rejoice over converted sinners. The earth shall join the song; for the curse pronounced on the ground is taken away by redemption. Yea, the very trees of the desert, the most remote from the peopled city, in beholding the felicity of God’s chosen, shall clap their hands also. And mark, my soul, what is the running verse and chorus of this blessed song? It is Jehovah’s glory; “for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” Precious and principal feature in redemption! for what, is God’s work is God’s glory. Think of this, when thou art contemplating the wonders and glories of redemption. And, moreover, let these views of divine glory, the first and ultimate end, in creation, providence, and grace, become the assurance, and security, and comfort of thy mind, under all the remaining points to be accomplished in thy personal circumstances, and interest in it. The Lord hath glorified himself, and will glorify himself in his people, Israel is the people of his purpose, the children of promise, the children of adoption, the objects of his choice, of his everlasting love; the seed of Christ; the purchase of his blood. “This people, (saith Jehovah) have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise.” Pause, my soul, and ask thy heart, what can shew forth God’s praise in any way equal to all our conceptions of Jehovah’s glory, more than by a way so gracious, so wonderful, and so passing all understanding, as that of taking them from nothing, yea, from worse than nothing, and constituting them a church, a people in Christ, his dear Son, to be the everlasting monument of his glory and praise, in the realms of eternity for ever? Well might the prophet exclaim, and well mayest thou join the song: “Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.”
MORNING AUGUST 17
“The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”—John 5:25
What a promise is here, and what an encouragement for every dead sinner to hope, and for every living saint, who is interested for dead sinners, not to despair? Observe, my soul, the extensiveness of the mercy: it is the dead. Why, all are dead in trespasses and sins. Is there not hope then for all? “And they that hear shall live.” Why, then, every sinner should ask his heart—do I hear? But, my soul, mark how this is done. It is by the voice of the Son of God. Yes; there is salvation in no other. He saith himself, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die.” But, my soul, while taking comfort from this blessed passage, as it concerns poor dead sinners, ask thine own heart whether thou hast been the happy partaker of it thyself. Hast thou heard the voice of the Son of God? Yes; if so be thou livest in him, and upon him, and walkest with him. Jesus’s voice is a quickening voice, a life-giving voice, a soul-feeding, soul-strengthening, heart-warming, heart-breaking, heart-melting voice. What sayest thou, my soul, to these examinations? Oh if Jesus’s voice hath been ever heard by thee, thou wilt be desiring the renewal of it from day to day, and thou wilt be saying, in the earnest language of the church: “let me hear thy voice, let me see thy countenance; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”
EVENING AUGUST 17
“Never man spake like this man.”—John 7:46
What a decided testimony were even the enemies of Christ compelled, from their own consciences, to give to the Godhead and power of the Lord Jesus Christ! Think then, my soul, what an evidence thou wouldest bring, if called upon to tell what Jesus hath said to thee! From the first moment that Jesus revealed himself, in his word, and by his word, to thy heart, thou couldest truly say, as the Jewish officers did, “Never man spake like this man.” Never any spake like this God-man, this Glory-man, thy Redeemer. All his words were, and are divine words; powerful, persuasive, tender, gracious words, and full of salvation. Say, also, how very blessed all that Jesus spake of salvation was to thy heart, when he made it personal, and spake it all to thee. When he said, I am thy salvation. I have pardon, I have peace, I have righteousness, I have grace here, and glory hereafter; and all I have is for thee. So that when reading the word, or hearing the word, and the question arose in thy heart, to whom speaketh my Lord thus? Oh! how unspeakably precious did the word become, when Jesus said by his servant, “To you is the word of this salvation sent.” Precious Lord Jesus! how shall I express my soul’s sense of thy love and grace, thy mercy and favour? Since thou first manifested thyself to my heart, I am no longer my own. Thou hast taken all my affections with thee to heaven, and caused them to center every thing in thyself. And now, Lord, I still daily, yea, sometimes hourly, when I hear thy voice, am constrained to cry out, “Never man spake like this man!” How sweet and suitable are thy words to my weary soul; thou hast indeed “the tongue of the learned, and knowest how to speak in season to souls, (like mine) that are weary,” Isa 1:4. How truly blessed and seasonable is thy well-known voice to my soul, when a sense of my nothingness makes thy fulness yet more precious. Oh! when I hear thee say, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness;” surely, Lord, I feel a power that makes all my enemies seem as nothing. Like thy servant, I then truly “glory in my infirmities, that thy power may rest upon me.” Be thou then, dearest Lord Jesus, all I need, and let me hear thy voice, and see thy countenance; for both in life and in death, in time, and to all eternity, the voice of my Lord Jesus will be my everlasting comfort, for none speaketh like thee!
MORNING AUGUST 18
“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”—Prov 31:6-7
What is the strong drink of the gospel but the covenant love, faithfulness, and grace of Jehovah? And what is the wine of the gospel but the love of Jesus, which the church saith is better than wine? Tell a poor sinner that is ready to perish, of God the Father’s everlasting love towards his people, who were all by nature sinners ready to perish, when God passed by and bid them live; tell them that such was God’s love that he gave his only begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life; tell them of Jesus, his Godhead, his Manhood—both natures united in one person, forming one Christ; tell them, that faith in his blood will save the soul; that God the Father hath respect only to the person and worth of his dear Son; and that for his sake, and his sake alone, the greatest saint, and the greatest sinner, if believers, are alike saved. This is strong drink; and a poor perishing sinner needs the cordial. Neither will the heavy in heart be any more sad, that thus is made to drink of the wine of the gospel. My soul, hast thou tasted of this strong drink? Oh then, take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord! Drink of this cup which Jesus puts into thine hand, and in his riches forget thy poverty, and in his free, and full, and finished redemption remember thine own misery no more. Live only to Jesus, and let him be thy strong drink, thy wine, and thy cordial for ever.
EVENING AUGUST 18
“While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them.”—Matt 17:5
My soul! see here, how it fared with the disciples in the mount, in the moment of those blessed manifestations which Jesus was making to them; and when, to heighten their felicity, several of the inhabitants of glory came, and spake to Jesus in the view of his disciples; yet so sudden was the change, that, even while Jesus spake, a cloud intervened and obscured all. Somewhat of the same change thou hast thyself known. How often hast thou been made like the chariots of Amminadib, by the overpowering grace that Jesus hath shewn thee! And how often have those blessed moments been followed by a dark and long night! And what ought to be thy improvement of these dispensations? Look still to Jesus, under all. Whatever changes are induced, never forget that his person is the same, and his love the same. Mark this down. Next look up to Jesus, and tell him, that as his visits are so sweet, so gracious, and blessed, entreat the dear Lord to be often coming, often blessing thee with his love, and making his abode with thee. And see that thou art improving every occasion, and making the most of those hallowed seasons; for they are most blessed and precious; while thy Lord is with thee, and feasting thee with his love, and shewing thee his secret mark, the Bethel-places, made sacred by his presence, and the Bethel communications, made pleasant by coming from him. And do not forget to interest Jesus for Zion. Tell him that Zion is his own, and thou knowest that he loves her. Then, on the ground of this love, tell him how she languisheth, in the present awful day of much profession, with but little vital godliness. And while the king is heldby thee in the galleries of his grace, bring in the arms of thy faith all thou wouldest seek a blessing for; thy children, if thou hast any, thy family, the church at large, the nation; and do, as did the patriarch, wrestle, plead, hold fast, and take no refusal, but say, ‘Lord, thou comest to bless, and a blessing I must have; “neither will I let thee go, except thou bless me.”‘
MORNING AUGUST 19
“My beloved is white and ruddy.”—Song 5:10
Pause, my soul, and contemplate thy Redeemer this morning under this engaging description of his person. It opens a delightful subject for meditation, in several points of view. Jesus is white and ruddy, if considered in his human nature only, He might be said to be white, in reference to the immaculate holiness of his body, underived as it was from a sinful stock like ours. He was born of the Virgin Mary by the miraculous conception of the Holy Ghost, and therefore emphatically called, that holy thing: agreeably to all which, his whole life was without sin or shadow of imperfection. “Such an High Priest become us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” Hence Jesus was truly white, as the Lamb of God, without blemish, and without spot. And was he not ruddy also, in his bloody sufferings, when his head was crowned with thorns, and his side pierced on the cross? Was he not ruddy in the garden, when his agony was so great as to force blood through all the pores of his sacred body, which fell in great drops on the ground. Behold, my soul, thy beloved in both these views, and say,—Is he not white and ruddy? But do not stop here. Look at him again, and contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Christ of God, in his two natures, divine and human, and say in the union of both,—Is he not white and ruddy? What can set forth the glories of the Godhead to our apprehension more lovely than the purity of whiteness, which, as in the mount of transfiguration, became a brightness too dazzling for mortal sight to behold? And what can represent the human nature more strikingly than the ruddiness of the countenance? Adam, the first man, takes his very name from hence; for Adam, or Adamah, signifies red earth. And such, then, was Jesus. And is he then, my soul, white and ruddy to thy view? And is he also thy beloved? Oh then, let him be thy morning, noonday, evening, midnight meditation; and let him be sweet to thee, as he is to his church and people—the beloved who is white and ruddy?
EVENING AUGUST 19
“And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil intreated this people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.”—Exod 5:22-23
My soul! ponder over this scripture, and the history connected with it, and behold what a blessed volume of instruction it affords. The Lord sent Moses to deliver his people out of Egypt. He had heard their groanings, and graciously promised to redress them. The people believed the Lord, and bowed their heads, in token of their view of his love, and their own happiness, which was now to follow. But behold, the oppression under which they had groaned, instead of lessening, began to increase. In this state they grow desperate, and charge God foolishly. Yea, Moses himself, who had talked with God at the bush, and seen the miracles in confirmation of his commission there shewn, becomes tainted with the same spirit of unbelief, and returned to expostulate with Jehovah on the occasion.—Pause over this view of the human heart, even in God’s own people. The sequel of Israel’s history sheweth, that the Lord was pursuing one invariable plan for the deliverance of his people, as he had promised; and that there was no alteration in him. He was only laying his glorious scheme the deeper by seeming opposition, to make his people’s emancipation more blessed, and his love of them more striking. But yet, while things appeared thus dark and unpromising, Israel forgot all that the Lord had promised.—And how is it, my soul, with thyself? When the promises of God seem to clash with his providences, and according to thy narrow views, seem impossible to be brought into agreement with each other, how dost thou act? Art thou not like Israel, much disposed to reason with flesh and blood? When the enemies of thy peace triumph, and carry things, as Pharaoh did in this instance with Israel, with a high hand, saying, “Aha! so would we have it;” when unbelief creeps in, or a lust, which thou hadst hoped was subdued, breaks out afresh, like some peccant humour of the body; when no answers are heard to thy prayers; and though thou art falling under some renewed temptation, yet there appears no hand of Jesus stretched forth to bring thee off, and raise thee up: say, my soul! under such dark providences, how dost thou conduct thyself towards the Lord? Oh for grace to trace Jesus, more especially in trying seasons than even in prosperous moments; and to hear his voice in the whirlwind and the storm! It is blessed to wait, blessed to depend upon Jesus, blessed to believe in his promise, when all the ways to the fulfilment of that promise seem to be wholly shut. This is the crowning grace of faith, “against hope to believe in hope;” and amidst the most desperate circumstances, to cleave to Jesus as a sure friend, when, in his providences, he appears coming forth as a determined enemy, and to say, with the same well-grounded confidence as Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
MORNING AUGUST 20
“Within the vail, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”—Heb 6:19-20
Pause over these words, my soul, this morning. Is the vail removed? Was the vail rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, in the hour that Christ died? And did Jesus, as thy High Priest, with all his blood, then enter into the place not made with hands, having obtained eternal redemption for us? Did he enter too as thy forerunner? Pause over this thought—it is a sweet one. Is Jesus still there? Nay, my soul, look in and see. He calls thee to look unto him—nay, to follow him, “having boldness to enter into the holiest by his blood, in the new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, his flesh.” And what canst thou see there? Within the vail of the Jewish temple there was the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant, and the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat. But within that vail, whither our forerunner is entered, look up, my soul, and see Jesus with the golden censer of his own merits and blood; and not the symbols of the covenant only, but he himself, the whole of the covenant, God the Father hath given him for the people; not merely manna, but himself the living bread, the bread of God, of which whosoever eateth shall live for ever; not the rod of Aaron, but the rod of his power, to make poor sinners willing in the day of his power; not the cherubims of glory, but himself the mercyseat, the propitiatory, the sacrifice, high priest, and all in all. Look up, my soul; look in, my soul; go in, my soul, after him, by faith, and contemplate him as thy forerunner; and while all thy faculties, in grace and faith, are going forth in the most lively exercise, hear him say, and let his words sink deeper and deeper in thine unceasing remembrance: “I only go to prepare for you a place: I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Hail thou glorious Forerunner, who art made an high priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec.
EVENING AUGUST 20
“A good man shall be satisfied from himself.”—Prov 14:14
My soul! what is this scripture, and what is the design of the Holy Ghost in it? Art thou satisfied in thyself? Alas! every day makes me more and more dissatisfied with myself. How can I, indeed, be satisfied, who carry about with me such a body of sin and death, which is everlastingly fighting with, and opposing my better part? What satisfaction, then, is it, that is here meant? Scripture is best explained by scripture: hence the satisfaction that a believing soul finds from himself, is not from his own attainments, nor his own righteousness, but from the witness of the Holy Ghost, that he is born of God, and brought out of nature’s darkness into God’s marvellous light. The apostle John hath given, in a single verse, a full illustration of what the wise man here saith, of a good man (that is, a child of God) being satisfied with himself: “He that believeth on the Son of God,” saith the apostle John, “hath the witness in himself;” 1 John 5:10. Here is the grand source of all his satisfaction. The Holy Ghost witnesseth to the soul of the believer, that he is new born, that he is passed from death to life; that Jesus is precious, and his salvation very dear to him. The heart of such an one is brought to know and feel his own wants by reason of sin, and the infinite suitableness of Jesus to answer all those wants, and to be to him all he stands in need of. The poor creature, thus taught of God, is satisfied with the blessed discovery he hath made of Jesus, and his salvation; and rests wholly in it, as one perfectly satisfied, and desires no other; yea, renounceth every other. Hence he is satisfied from himself, and his own feelings, and not from what others have taught him, that Jesus is all he needs. My soul! hast thou arrived to this blessedness? If so, praise that distinguishing grace, by which, in the midst of self-loathing on account of thy sin, thou hast a self-satisfaction on account of having found Jesus and his righteousness. Let Jesus have all the praise, and do thou live as one eternally satisfied with his person and righteousness.
MORNING AUGUST 21
“Fear not; for they that be with us, are more than they that be with them.”—2 Kings 6:16
My soul, never lose sight of this which was shewn to the prophet’s servant in his fright. Though thou seest not, with bodily eyes, the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire in thy defence; yet with thy spiritual eyes, thou mayest see, infinitely beyond all this, as surrounding thee at all times and in all places, God thy Father, with all his divine attributes and perfections, all engaged, all made over, all pledged in covenant engagements, in Jesus, for thy defence, protection, comfort, security, and guiding thee in all things. There is more in that one assurance than in a thousand worlds, “I will be thy God”—and all in Jesus, yea and amen. Then, moreover, thou hast God thy Redeemer with thee, with all his fulness, all his grace, all his love—his whole heart, his whole soul thine. And thou hast God the Holy Ghost, with all his influences, gifts, teachings, quickenings, consolations, strengthenings. All these are with thee; to say nothing of angels, which are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister unto them which are heirs of salvation. Surely God’s attributes, Jesus’s graces, the Holy Ghost’s comforts, being all thine own, and always with thee; let what armies of men, or legions of evil spirits assault thee—unbelief, or fear, or doubt, or misgiving; let nothing drive out the recollections nor remove thy confidence. “Fear not, for they that be with thee are more than all that can be against thee.” Hallelujah. Amen.
EVENING AUGUST 21
“And it came to pass as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, Oh thou man of God, there is death in the pot!”—2 Kings 4:40
It was at a time of great famine, that the prophet Elisha ministered among the sons of the prophets at Gilgal; no wonder, therefore, that their diet was reduced to a dinner of herbs. During the season of persecution in our kingdom, somewhat more than a century and half since, there was a spiritual famine, not of bread or of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord: and so precious was the word of the Lord in those days, that our good old fathers used to remark, “bread and water, with the gospel, was choice fare.” We find, in the household of Elisha, that wild gourds by the ignorance of him that gathered the herbs, were served up in the pottage of the people, which, as soon as they were discovered, occasioned the cry to the prophet, “O thou man of God, there is death in the pot!” And is there not death in the pot, when any matters of a poisonous quality are mingled and served up to God’s people with the word of his grace? Surely, the springs of all spiritual food and life are in Jesus: his blood, his righteousness, his finished salvation, the graces of his Holy Spirit, and the rest and dependence upon God the Father’s covenant love and mercy in him; these are the only food of the soul by which it can be nourished. To drop these rich and savoury truths, whereby the soul is kept alive to God, and brought nigh to God in Christ; or, what is the same thing to mingle, like the wild gourds of the field, the righteousness of the creature, as being partly the means of salvation, with this only wholesome food of the soul; may surely cause the believing soul to cry out, “O thou man of God, there is death in the pot!” I charge it upon thee, my soul, this evening, in the view of this scripture, concerning the sons of the prophets, that thou take heed to receive not mingled things for the good old fare of the gospel. The smallest introduction to error is as one that letteth out water. Where the person of Jesus, his work, and glory, are neglected to be set forth, there will be death in the pot, whatever else be substituted in the place. A real believer cannot live in his soul’s health a day, no more than a labouring man in his body, where the food suited to each is not given. And it surely were a pity, when there is such an infinite fulness in Christ, to substitute any thing for him. See to it then, my soul, that all thy food be Jesus, and let “all thy fresh springs be in him.” Remember the promise, for in the saddest times of dearth, if Jesus be looked to, it never can fail: “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures: for with thee is the fountain of life;” Ps 36:8-9.
MORNING AUGUST 22
“Seeking for Jesus.”—John 6:24
This, my soul, should be thy constant employment, wherever thou art, however engaged; in going in, or out; at rising up, or lying down; whether in public or private, in the church or marketplace; the closet, the family, the garden, the field, the house: the question ever arising in the heart should be—where is Jesus? Blessed Spirit! thou glorifier of my Lord, wilt thou constantly excite this seeking for Jesus in my heart? Wilt thou, Lord, give me every moment a sense of need, then a view of his fulness, suitableness, readiness to impart; then bring Him, whom my soul loveth, and me together; and then open a communication in leading me forth in desire, and giving me faith to receive from the infinitefulness of my Lord, and grace for grace? Lord Jesus! I would desire grace to seek thee, as for hidden treasure. I would seek thee, and thee only, O my God! I would separate myself from all other things. It is Jesus, my soul chooseth, my soul needs. I would trust in nothing beside. No duties, no works; neither prayers nor repentance; no, nor faith itself, considered as an act of my soul, shall be my comfort, but Jesus alone I would make my centre; and every thought, and every affection, and every desire, like so many streams meeting in one, should all pour themselves, as rivers, into the ocean of thy bosom! And the nearer, as a stream that draws near the sea is propelled to fall into it, so the more forcible and vehement let my soul be in desires after thee, as my soul draweth nearer the hour of seeing thee. Oh Lamb of God, give me to be seeking after thee through life, pressing after thee from one ordinance to another; and when ordinances cease, and all outward comforts fail, then, Lord, may I gather up (as the dying patriarch did his feet in the bed) all my strength, and pour my whole soul into thine arms, crying out, “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord?”
EVENING AUGUST 22
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”—Rev 12:1
My soul! as the beloved apostle was invited to see those precious visions, which the Lord favoured him with, for the church’s good, so do thou, this evening, attend his ministry, and gather, under divine teaching, instruction from this great wonder, which John saw. Surely, the woman here spoken of, means the church, the Lamb’s wife, clothed in her husband’s righteousness; and the moon, like that planet which ministers to our world, under her feet: and the crown, with which her head was adorned, sets forth how the church is made glorious by the ministry of the twelve apostles in the gospel of salvation: for what can be more suitable for the church to be crowned with, than the blessed truths contained in their writings? Now, my soul, as every representation of the church not only sets forth the whole body at large, but every individual member of that body, ask thyself, hath this wonder been wrought on thee, which John saw? Art thou clothed with the sun, even with Jesus, the sun of righteousness, in his garment of salvation? Hast thou mounted up, not in airy speculations, not in any fancied attainments of thine own, but in heavenly mindedness after Jesus, and devout communion with him; so that the earth, with all its perishing beauties, is got under thy feet? Hast thou such views of the blessedness and preciousness of the word of God, the gospel of thy salvation, that it is dearer to thee than gold, yea, than all the crowns of the earth? Pause, while these inquiries pass over thy mind; and surely, if the Lord, by the sovereignty of his grace, hath wrought such blessed effects upon thee, a great wonder is indeed wrought in earth, like that which John saw in heaven, and well mayest thou stand amazed at the greatness and the distinguishing nature of salvation. “Lord! what am I; and what is my father’s house?”
MORNING AUGUST 23
“The beloved physician.”—Col 4:14
My soul, catch a thought of what the apostle here speaks of the servants to think of the master! If Luke the physician was beloved, how much more so ought Jesus to be by thee in this sweet character. The Son of God came, as the great physician of the soul, to heal all that were diseased, to bind up the broken-heart, to give sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. My soul, dost thou know Jesus in this tender and affectionate office? Hath he examined thy case, made thee sensible of thy disease; and art thou, through his mercy, restored to health? Though, through shame and fear at the first, you would never have made known your case to him, had he not first, of his own free accord, called upon you, yet hath he done so? Have you heard him ask the tender question, “Wilt thou be made whole?” And have you rejoiced to come under his care? Do you know what it is to have his blood applied to heal the wounds of sin, his righteousness to cover them, his grace to refresh under them, and his name as ointment poured forth, to make a fragrancy from all uncleanness? Moreover, hath Jesus shewn to thee the freeness of his remedies, without payment, without money, and without price? And doth he do all this, and a thousand affectionate offices beside, which belong to the physician, calling himself by that endearing name, Jehovah Rophi, I am the Lord that healeth thee? No longer let it be said, then, “Is there no balm in Gilead; no physician there?” But tell to every poor sin-sick soul, Jesus is the beloved physician, who visits the poor and the needy, and heals all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people, he hath healed me.
EVENING AUGUST 23
“For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost?”—Luke 14:28
Ponder, my soul, over this very striking similitude of thy Lord’s, respecting the divine life. The figure of a builder is most aptly chosen; for the Christian builder is building for eternity. And the figure of a warrior, which our Lord also joins to it, is no less so, for the battle is for life, and that life is eternal. Hast thou counted the cost? Hast thou entered upon the work? Is the foundation-stone, which God hath laid in Zion, the rock on which thou art building? Pause and examine. Be the cost what it may; the loss of earthly friends; the parting with every worldly pursuit; the scorn, contempt, and derision of all mankind; yea, the loss of life itself: if these come in the way of competition, art thou ready to give them all up?—When thou hast answered these inquiries, go on, and see that thy foundation be really fixed on Christ. If so, it must have been previously sought for, by digging deep into the natural state in which thou wast born. Jesus must have been first discovered, as most essentially necessary, and most essentially precious, before the spiritual building of the soul was made to rest upon him. And, when found, unless the whole of the building rest entirely upon him, it will, as a column out of its centre, still totter. Oh! it is blessed to make Christ the all in all of the spiritual temple; blessed to make him the first in point of order; blessed to make him the first in point of strength, to support and bear the weight of the whole building; blessed to make him the grand cement, to unite and keep together, in one harmonious proportion and regularity, every part of the building; and blessed to bring forth the topstone of the building, by his strength and glory, crying, “Grace, grace unto it.” Precious Jesus! may it be found that I have so sat down, counted the cost, and formed my whole plan, in thy strength, and to thy praise; that whatever oppositions, like the Tobiahs and Sanballats of old, I may meet with in the work, I may feel the sweetness and encouragement of that blessed scripture, and exult with the prophet: “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain!” Zech 4:7.
MORNING AUGUST 24
“God, according to his promise, hath raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.”—Acts 13:23
Mark, my soul, the blessedness of these words. Jesus is not only Israel’s Saviour, and hath fully answered, in every point, to that glorious character, but here we are led to discover his credentials. This is faith’s warrant. I believe in Jesus. Why? He brings with him the name, the authority, the commission of God the Father. Jesus is the appointment, the ordinance, the method Jehovah hath sent forth for salvation. Sweet thought! So that, added to all that I behold in the Lord Jesus, adapted to my case and circumstances, I here see that Jesus as the Father’s gift, the Father’s sent, the Father’s anointed, full of grace and truth. Jesus is therefore the great promise of the bible; for in him are folded up and contained all the promises. And I see also, that God our Father was, and is, the great promiser. And I see that God not only gave this rich Saviour to poor sinners, but, according to his promise, raised him up also from the dead, when he had made his soul an offering for sin, to bless them: for it is said, “that he was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.” My soul, pause over this blessed account, and look for thine own interest in it. If God hath raised up to Israel this Saviour, what knowest thou of him? Has thou felt thy need of a Saviour? Dost thou accept the Father’s Saviour? Is Jesus thy Saviour? Art thou come to him for salvation? Now God the Father hath raised him up, doth he appear to thee in all his beauties, fulness, suitableness, and complete salvation?
EVENING AUGUST 24
“And God said, ask what I shall give thee?”—1 Kings 3:5
My honoured Lord! may I not, with all humbleness of soul, apply what was here said to Solomon, in the old testament dispensation, as said to all thy redeemed under the new testament grace? Didst thou not say, Lord! “whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full”? John 16:23-24. I feel encouraged by this saying of my Lord; and I am come up, this evening, to my Lord, to get large supplies of grace, mercy, pardon, peace; yea, Christ himself, with all his gifts, with all his fulness, and all his blessings. And sure I am, if my Lord will give me as large a hand to receive, as my Lord’s hand is to give, I shall have a blessed time of it this evening. My soul, look to it, that thou take with thee all thy wants; yea, come as empty as the poorest beggar that ever appeared in the poverty and wretchedness of a fallen nature; for he that gives, “gives liberally, and upbraideth not.” And knowest thou what thy wants are; and what the wants of Christ’s church upon earth are, and thine household, thy family, thy children, thy friends? Let them tell thee, if thou dost not know; for say unto them, Jesus is upon the throne, and delighting to give out of his inexhaustible fulness; and there is an assurance of blessings, if asked in faith. Tell them that thou wilt faithfully lay their cases before him; yea, bring them with thee, and let all unite in prayer and supplication together, that every want may be supplied, and every poor sinner’s heart made glad! Oh! what encouragement it is to consider, that every thing in Christ is for his people, and that he waits to be gracious, and delights in imparting blessings. The Father’s gift of Christ is to this express purpose; for he so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; and therefore, with him, “he will freely give all things.” And Jesus, who gave himself for his people, will surely give every thing that can be needed to his people. And it is the glory, grace, and love of the Holy Ghost, to give to the people views and enjoyments of both the Father’s love and the Son’s grace. Hear then, my soul, the voice from the mercyseat, this evening, “ask what I shall give thee?” And see that thy petition, and the blessings thou prayest for, be great and large, suited to the glory of the great Giver, and the largeness and tenderness of the Lord’s heart. And do mark this down, as an encouragement to take with thee, of the assurance of thy success: if he that bids thee ask, gives thee faith at the same time to believe; and if, while the Lord is stretching forth the sceptre of his grace, he enables thee to stretch forth thy withered hand to touch it; sure I am, that thou wilt not come empty away; for he hath said, “all things that ye ask believing, ye shall receive.”
MORNING AUGUST 25
“His servants shall serve him. And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”—Rev 22:3-4
Mark these characters, my soul. Jesus hath servants, and they are distinguished from the world. They “serve him.” What is it to serve Christ? The prophet hath described. Free grace hath made then servants, in bringing them from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God; and therefore he saith, in the Lord’s name, “My servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed; my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart.” How distinguishing these characters! God’s servants have the table of Jesus to sit down to; the bread of life, the bread of God, the living bread, which is Jesus himself, to feed upon. They shall drink also; for he that is their living bread is their living water also—even the water of life, of which whosoever drinketh shall thirst no more; “but it shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” The servants of the Lord shall rejoice, and sing for joy of heart also. Yes, “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Neither is this all. The servants of the Lord shall “see his face.” They do now, by faith in his word, in his ordinances, in his manifestations, visits, grace, providences. And, by and by, when this vail of covering, cast over all people, is totally taken down and removed at death, they shall have a glorious view of the King in his beauty by sight. Moreover, his name is said to be “in their foreheads.” Yes, it is so; the image of Christ is impressed upon them, as “Holiness to the Lord” was engraven on the mitre of Aaron. “Beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” My soul, what sayest thou to these evidences? Are they thine? Canst thou take the comfort of them to thyself.
EVENING AUGUST 25
“And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a riverside, where prayer was wont to be made.”—Acts 16:13
What, had they no church, no synagogue, no prayer-house, in the city? Was it like another Athens, wholly given to idolatry? My soul, think of thy privileges, and learn rightly to prize them, and use them to the glory of the great Giver. It was “on the sabbath.” What a mercy to poor fallen man is the sabbath? And yet what multitudes slight, despise, and never profit by it! My soul! think again, in this view also, of thy mercies; and bow down to the dust in the deepest humiliation of soul and body, that the sabbath is precious to thee. “Who made thee to differ from another?” By and by thou wilt enter into the everlasting sabbath of heaven. There is somewhat very interesting in what the apostle here saith of going out “by a river side.” Probably it was in the recollection of the church, that in Babylon, where the people were captives, the Lord made the river Chebar famous for visions to one prophet, and Hiddekel to another. But, blessed be God! though our land is so sinful, we are not given up to captivity; and while many of the nations around have their churches turned into stables, amidst the din and horrors of war, our candlestick is not yet removed out of its place. Precious Jesus! wherever prayer is wont to be made by thy people, let my soul delight to be found. Let me hear thy voice inviting to communion: “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon.” Yea, Lord, I would follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. I would follow thee to the assemblies of thy people. I would wait to see the goings of my God and King in his sanctuary. I would have my whole soul athirst for thee, as the hart for the cooling streams. And while I join thy people in the great congregation, where prayer is wont to be made, I pray thy grace, and the influences of thy blessed Spirit, to fire my soul with foretastes of that glorious assembly, which are keeping an eternal sabbath above, where the everlasting praises of God and of the Lamb will engage and fill my raptured soul with joy unspeakable and full of glory to all eternity.
MORNING AUGUST 26
“The God of our fathers hath glorified his Son Jesus.”—Acts 3:13
See, my soul, how every part and portion of scripture is directed to this one subject—to glorify the Lord Jesus. What is the very design of redemption but to glorify the Lord Jesus? What hath God constituted a church for, but to glorify the Lord Jesus? To what do all the precepts, promises, ordinances, sacrifices under the law, and institutions under the gospel, minister, but to this one end—to glorify the Lord Jesus? Talk they of promises? Why, all the promises of God are “in Christ Jesus, yea and amen, to the glory of God the Father by us.” Talk they of the law? “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Talk they of commandments? “This is the commandment, that ye believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.” And how hath the God of our fathers glorified his Son Jesus, in giving him as a covenant to the people. Hath he not constituted him the glorious Head, the Mediator, the Husband, the Lord, the Prophet, the Priest, the King of his people? How hath he glorified him in his person, offices, characters, relations! How hath he carried him through all the parts of redemption, in his incarnation, ministry, miracles, obedience, life, death, resurrection, ascension; and in all his triumphs over sin and Satan, death, hell, and the grave. And having constituted him the universal and eternal Lord of all, commands that “every knee should bow before him, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!” And is there any thing left, by which the God of our fathers might manifest that he hath glorified his Son Jesus? Yes, there is one thing more, my soul, by which the wonderful grace is shewn; and that is, when the God of our fathers hath glorified his Son Jesus in the heart of every poor sinner, who gives the glory of his salvation fully, heartily, completely to him, and puts the crown of redemption upon the head of Jesus. My soul, hast thou done this? Hast thou glorified Jesus in this way, the only way in which thou canst glorify him, and the Father in him? Then, if so, what a sweet thought is it, that the God of our fathers, and thou, a poor sinner, are both agreed in this one blessed work, to glorify Jesus. And here both meet in the only possible meeting-place for an holy God and unholy men to meet; and both are engaged in one and the same deed—to glorify Jesus! Oh thou Lamb of God, be thou eternally glorified in my salvation!
EVENING AUGUST 26
“And all king Solomon’s drinking-vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold, none were of silver; it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.”—1 Kings 10:21
Behold, my soul! the splendour of Solomon, and figure to thyself what a court and people his must have been, with whom silver was as nothing; and then turn thy thoughts to Jesus, and ask thyself, whether it be possible to suppose that he, with whom are hid all “the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” can be otherwise than rich himself, and abundantly gracious to enrich his people? Thy Solomon, thy Jesus, hath all things, and all things richly to dispense. He is the universal Lord and proprietor of all. In him dwelleth all fulness; “yea, durable riches and righteousness.” And what endears Jesus, and marks the superiority of his kingdom is, that every thing in it is everlasting. Solomon’s splendourwas great, but it was limited to the period of his life; yea, less than life. But Jesus is everlasting; the riches and the blessings he hath, and which he gives, are everlasting. Jesus maketh both gold and silver, yea, the riches of grace and wisdom, as the stones of the street for abundance; and their blessedness is, like him, eternal. So that here we find an eternity of blessings. All beside is hollow, transitory, fading. But with Jesus it is solid and substantial. “I will cause them,” he saith, “that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasure.” Precious Lord! may I never contemplate earthly pageantry, without taking into the view thy glory; and while I behold human grandeur, however splendid, or however shining, which is but for the day, may my soul hasten to the consideration of thy glory, which is a portion for thy redeemed to live upon to all eternity!
MORNING AUGUST 27
“I have exalted one chosen out of the people.”—Ps 89:19
My soul, wert thou refreshed on the past day with the precious meditation of the God of our fathers glorifying his Son Jesus? Suffer not, then, the blessed subject to pass away from thy thoughts this day, or any day, but look at the same delightful meditation proposed in the words which God spake to his Holy One in vision—”I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” Yes, the Lord Jesus, as man and Mediator, was chosen in the infinite mind of Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, from everlasting. And before that God went forth in the immediate acts of creation, when that vast mass of beings the Lord determined to call into existence arose in his own infinite mind at his command, this blessed one, this glorious, this distinguished, this precious individual which was to become one with the untreated Word, in order to constitute the Wisdom-man, Mediator, was from everlasting chosen. This was the glorious act—this was the great appointment. Then Christ Jesus, our glorious Head, our Surety, Redeemer, Saviour, was then set up from everlasting! And my soul, hadst thou been present, had there been a possibility of such a thing, had the whole church been there, would not every heart, every soul of his redeemed, have shouted aloud in the contemplation of such a Saviour, and cried out, “He is the altogether lovely, the chiefest among ten thousand!” Precious Jesus, thou art indeed lovely in thyself, lovely in thy cross, lovely in thy crown, lovely in all thy gracious acts, victories, triumphs, grace, and mercy. Everything in thee is lovely; and thou communicatest loveliness to all thy people. Thou hast chosen our inheritance for us; reign and rule over us, and in us; for thou art “The Lord our righteousness.”
EVENING AUGUST 27
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”—Ezek36:25
Was there ever a more precious scripture? And was there ever a poor sinner needed it more than thou, my soul? And what a thousand beauties are contained in it? Who is the great promiser, but the Lord Jehovah, the Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation? And what is the clean water here spoken of, but the blood of Christ? Christ, with all his redemption, all his fulness, all his suitableness, and his all-sufficiency? And what doth this sweet promise imply? Every thing, in one, is folded up in it. It is all of God; all in himself, and all to be wrought by himself. He provides the clean water; he cleanseth the sinners; he sprinkles, he applies, he promiseth the sure efficacy; for they “shall be clean;” and he makes the blessings most comprehensive, and full, and complete; for it shall be a cleansing from all their filthiness, and from all their idols. See then, my soul, what a portion thou hast here found, in the word of God’s grace, for thine evening’s meditation! Evening, did I say? yea, for the meditation of thy whole life, and to form the foundation of a song of praise to all eternity! there is every thing in it thou canst possibly need, to encourage thee to come for cleansing, under all thy pollutions, in thy daily walk through life. Here is God the Father fully engaged, and as fully promising. Here is Jesus, in his blood of sprinkling, as the Father’s gift for cleansing, in all his divine offices and suited mercy. And here is the purity wrought by the Holy Ghost, in his gracious application of the whole; and which he doth most graciously and most fully testify, when he shews thee thy need, and the suitableness of Jesus, and inclines thee to believe the efficacy of this blood of Christ to cleanse from all sin. Now, my soul, muse over the blessedness and fulness of this sweet scripture, and see how suited it is, in every point, to thy wants, and to thy Lord’s glory. And when thou hast gathered from it, like the bee from the flower, all the honey it contains, take it home to thy inmost affections, as the bee doth what he gathers to the hive, and live upon it for thy daily food. The promise is absolute; for God saith, “I will do it.” And the certainty of its effect is as fixed; for God saith, “Ye shall be clean.” And the extent of it is as sure; for God saith, “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” My soul, ask the most daring heart of unbelief, what shall arise to unsay what God hath said, or to counteract what God hath promised?
MORNING AUGUST 28
“The creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.”—2 Kings 4:1
My soul, how doth this affect thee? Art thou in debt? By nature and by practice thou wast miserably so, unless the debt be cancelled. As a creature, and as a sinful creature, thou art in thyself for ever insolvent. Thou hast nothing to pay, and art shut up in a total impossibility ever to pay. And how much owest thou unto my Lord? Alas, my soul, thou owest millions of debts to thy Almighty Creditor. The law thou hast broken; justice demands retribution; conscience condemns; Satan accuses; and the creditor is come to take not thy two sons only, but both thy two parts, soul and body, to the prison of death and hell, unless some almighty Surety hath stept in and paid the dreadful debt, that thou mayest be free. At death, and at judgment that follows, the everlasting release, or the everlasting imprisonment, will take place. And who knows whether the decision may not be tomorrow? nay, whether the same sentence as went forth to the rich man in the gospel, is not already gone forth concerning thee—”This night thy soul shall be required of thee!” Pause, my soul! Is it not high time to flee to the prophet, even the Prince of the prophets, the Lord Jesus, to tell him thy case, and to seek his deliverance? Hark, doth he say, as the prophet did to the poor woman, “What shall I do for thee? Tell me what hast thou in the house?” Is not Jesus with thee? Is not his fulness suited to thy emptiness? Hast thou him with thee in the house? Shut then the door; bring, bring, my soul, all thy empty vessels—Jesus will fill them all. Nor will his bounty stay until that all thy vessels be filled; nay, every vessel will fail, before that his grace fails. And when thou art full of Jesus, live on Jesus, and see that Jesus hath paid thy Almighty Creditor, and left enough for thee to live on for ever. Oh the rapture and the joy, when the Almighty Creditor comes, at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning, to know the dreadful debt is paid, and to hear him say, “Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom.”
EVENING AUGUST 28
“The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”—John 14:24
My soul, hast thou ever fully and thoroughly considered that sweet and precious teaching of thy Lord, which, as Mediator, when upon earth, in all his discourses and conversations with his disciples, he was perpetually shewing them? I mean, that all he was, and all he had, and all he dispensed, were the blessings and gifts of his Father, in him, to his people. If thou hast been meditating upon this most blessed point of the gospel ever so fully and closely, it will still afford new glories for every renewed attention to it; and therefore, sit down this delightful summer’s evening, and take another view of it. Jesus comes to his people in his Father’s name, and he saith in this charming scripture, that his very words are not his, but the Father’s; so much of the heart of the Father is in Christ, and in all of Christ, in all he saith, and in all he hath done. So that what is Jesus doing, in all his ministry upon earth, yea, in all his sovereignty now in heaven, but shewing to his redeemed, the Father, and the Father’s love, and grace, and mercy, towards his people in him? Did he not then come forth from the bosom of the Father full of grace and truth, as if to unfold to us what passed in the heart of the Father, of love and mercy towards his people, in the wonders of redemption? And is not Jesus now, in every renewed manifestation, teaching his redeemed the same? If all that the Father hath are our Jesus’s, and all the fulness of the Godhead bodily dwelleth in him; surely we ought never to receive any of his good and blessed gifts without acknowledging the Father’s love in them. And would not this make every blessing doubly sweet and increasingly precious? If Jesus himself be the gift of the Father, shall I not enjoy the Father in all that Jesus bestows? And as I can have no immediate communion with the Father but by him, will not the mercies gather a blessedness, and a value, in coming to my poor soul through Jesus’s hands, as the bountiful dispenser of them? Yea, shall I not find a savour, which otherwise could never have been known, in receiving them in and from Jesus; convinced, as I am, that none cometh to the Father, but by him; and but for his opening a new and living way by his blood, never should I have known the Father’s love, or the Redeemer’s grace? Dear Lord Jesus! do thou give me, by thy blessed Spirit, ever to keep in remembrance these most precious things. So shall I truly enjoy both thy person and thy gifts. And then I shall not, like the apostle, pray for a sight of the Father distinct from thee; for I shall then be perfectly satisfied and convinced, that in seeing thee, I see the Father also; and from henceforth, that I know him, and have seen him. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
MORNING AUGUST 29
“Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me?”—John 14:9
Pause, my soul, over this question of the Lord Jesus which he put to Philip—figure to thyself that the Lord saith the same to thee; and now see what answer thou wilt give him. It is a great question: and if thou art able to answer it with a—”Yea, Lord;” and from the blessed Spirit’s teaching thou truly knowest Jesus to be what the scripture saith he is, and canst as truly, from the receiving that testimony which God hath given of his dear and ever-blessed Son, set to thy seal that God is true; then art thou truly happy, and mayest humbly take to thyself a portion in that blessedness which the Lord Jesus pronounced upon Peter, from the same grace manifested: “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Pause then, and inquire: dost thou know who Christ is? Art thou perfectly satisfied, my soul, of the oneness in nature, in essence, in glory, in will, in worship, in work, in design, in attributes, perfections, power, sovereignty; in short, in all and every thing which constitutes the Godhead between the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit? Oh yes, my soul cries out, I do, through the teaching of my God, most firmly, heartily, and cordially believe, that Jesus is one with the Father over all, God blessed for ever! Amen. Pause again, my soul, and say, dost thou as firmly and heartily believe that thy Jesus, who, in the divine nature, is one with the Father, is no less in the human nature, which he united to the Godhead for the purposes of salvation, one with thee, bone of thy bone, and flesh of thy flesh? Doth this make an equal article in thy creed? Oh yes, I am, through the same divine teaching, as fully and perfectly convinced that he who is and was, and ever will be, the untreated Word, was made flesh, and thereby became the true Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature. Pause, once more, my soul, and say, dost thou believe that, by this union of God and man, Jesus became the true, the only, the blessed Mediator, the Christ of God, the Sent of God, the Sealed of God, the Anointed of God, the Lamb of God, the Word of God, the Wisdom of God, and the power of God for salvation to every one that believeth? Bow down, my soul, with unceasing thanksgivings and praise to the Author and Giver of faith, for the stupendous discoveries he hath made to thee of himself, while thou criest out in transports of rejoicing—Lord, all this I believe; and am perfectly satisfied that thou art one with the Father, and art in the Father, and the Father in thee. And while thou thus givest in thy testimony of the Lord Jesus, wilt thou not, my soul, at the same time, under a conscious sense of the distinguishing mercy, cry out also with the astonished disciple—”Lord, how is it that thou hast thus manifested thyself unto me, and not unto the world”
EVENING AUGUST 29
“Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”—Isa 45:11
Nothing can give a higher proof of the love of God, than what the scriptures reveal concerning him. He opened a way of access to himself, when man by sin had lost the way; and in his dear Son he has made every provision for bringing us nigh by his blood. The throne of grace he hath opened for their approach; the assurance he hath given of accepting them in the beloved; the very tender and kind expressions which issue from the throne; and the answers which have been given to thousands, and are continually given to thousands who come there; yea, the promises with which they are surrounded, that “before they call, he will answer, and while they are speaking, he will hear:” all these are full of endearments, to shew forth the love of God in Jesus Christ to all his people. But still, if possible, beyond all these, this portion from the writings of the prophet is most wonderful, and is confirmed by Jehovah’s own saying, “Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” What! doth the Lord indeed allow himself to be commanded? Hath he thrown, as it were, the reins of government into the hands of his people; and, if the object of their petition be for his glory and their welfare, may they command him? My soul! what an astonishing, what an unparalleled instance of condescension is this!—But are there any instances upon record of the kind? Yes! When Jacob wrestled with God in prayer, he boldly told the Lord, that he would not let him go without a blessing: and the blessing he had. And God himself, a thousand years after, noted it down by the prophet, that “by his strength, he had power with God,” Gen 32:26,28; Hos 12:3-4. When Joshua was pursuing the enemies of God, and of his Christ, he bade the sun stand still; and it did so; Josh 10:12-14. When the Lord Jesus went with the disciples to Emmaus, and they constrained him to abide, he was entreated of them, and went in with them; Luke 24:29. And who shall say, what instances of wonder, grace, and love, in a thousand and ten thousand cases, both public and private, in the history of the church and the Lord’s people, have been accomplished, of the same kind, and are every day going on in their experiences? My soul! look at Moses, stopping the Lord’s hand, when coming forth to destroy Israel; Exod 32:9-14. Look how Elias shut up, and again opened, the windows of heaven, by the prevalency of prayer; and read the apostle’s comment upon it;1 Kings 17:1; James 5:16-18. And when thou hast duly pondered the wonderful subject, say, what is there thy God and Father can or will deny thee, when thou comest to him in the name, and blood, and intercession of his dear and ever blessed Son? Read the inscription on his cross, in connection with this blessed scripture of the prophet, and then say, with the apostle: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?” Rom 8:32.
MORNING AUGUST 30
“And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee.”—Deut 15:15
Say, my soul, canst thou ever forget the wormwood and the gall of that state of nature, from which the Lord thy God brought thee? Figure to thyself the most horrid state of captivity which the world ever knew; and what could the whole be, bounded, as it must be, by the short period of human life, compared to the everlasting vassalage of sin and Satan, in which thou didst lay when Jesus passed by and brought thee out? No galley-slave, chained to the oar, could equal thy misery, bound with the chain of sin. No duration of misery, bounded by time, equals that endless state of woe to which thou wast exposed. Thou wert a bondman to the power of sin, to the love of sin, to the desire of sin, to the punishment of sin; a bondman to the law of God, to the justice of God, to the displeasure of God, to the threatenings of God; a bondman to thine own guilty conscience; a bondman to thine own corrupt lusts, not one lust, but many, serving, as the apostle saith, “divers lusts and pleasures, hateful, and hating one another;” a bondman to Satan, a willing drudge, wearing his livery, delighted in his service, though full of sorrow, vexation, and disappointment, and his wages sure death; a bondman to the fear of many creatures among the inferior creation, many of whom had continual power to vex and distress thee; a bondman to the fear of death, hell, and a judgment to come! Was this thy state, my soul, by nature and by practice? And hath one like the Son of Man brought thee out? Precious Jesus, what shall I say to thee, what shall I sayfor thee? What shall I render to the Lord for all the mercies he hath done to me, and for me? And dost thou say, Lord, that I may remember that bondage and thy redemption! Oh may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I forget thee, thou Author of all my joy, and all my happiness! Nay, if I do not remember thee, and prefer thy love more than wine. In life, in death, and to all eternity, may my soul hang upon thee, as the bee upon the flower; and let the fragrancy of thy name be as ointment poured forth.
EVENING AUGUST 30
“Return, return, O Shulamite, return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.”—Song 6:13
It is the church that is here called upon to return, and most likely by the daughters of Jerusalem. Some have thought the church is so called, as being of Salem, or Shulem, the shortened word for Jerusalem. And some have thought that Salem is the same with Solomon, as the feminine of Solomon, the wife. And others have supposed, that as Jerusalem means peace, the church is called so, on account of her loveliness. And no doubt, in each sense, the church may well be called so, being married to Christ; being of the “Jerusalem that is above, which is the mother of us all;” and being beautiful, peaceful, and lovely in Jesus, as Jerusalem is the praise of the whole earth, Ps 48:2. But wherefore is the Shulamite called upon to return, to be looked upon, and with such earnestness, as to cause the request to be so often repeated? The answer is very plain. If it be the inquiry immediately on a soul’s conversion, the change from death to life, from sin to salvation, is so great, that every one may be supposed anxious to behold. If it be the return of the poor believer, after a state of backsliding, the blushing face of a poor soul might also be well considered as a grateful sight to all that love to behold the blessed fruits of the Holy Ghost. And if it be in the after-stages of a life of grace, when a believer, from long knowing Jesus, and long living upon him, is become most beautiful and comely in his profession, no object upon earth can be an equal object of delight, or more worthy universal attention. So that in either sense, the earnest and repeated call for her return, to be looked upon, may be well accounted for. And the church’s answer is equally engaging. What would you see in me? As if she had said, ‘In my best and highest attainment, I am but a poor creature in myself. All my beauty is derived from Jesus. I am indeed comely in him; and he is my glory, and the lifter-up of my head. But in myself I am no other but as one contending with two armies. I feel corruption rising continually against grace; and “when I would do good, evil is present with me.” My soul! is not this thy very state? Art thou not perpetually exercised in this struggle? Precious Lord Jesus! let this view of thy church comfort me in a consciousness of a family likeness. And Oh, Lord! while I thus groan under the remains of indwelling corruption, give me to see that they are but remains. Jesus will at length, and by little and little, drive these Canaanites out of the land.
MORNING AUGUST 31
“One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”—John 9:25
This is a great thing to say, my soul: on what foundation dost thou rest this knowledge? If the Lord Jesus hath opened thine eyes, then indeed thou canst not but discover thy former blindness; for during that state of nature thou literally couldst discern nothing. And if thy former blindness be discovered, then thy present sight hath brought thee acquainted with new objects. Pause over the review of both this morning. The blindness of nature to spiritual things is marked in scripture in strong characters. A poor blind sinner sees nothing of the light of life. The Sun of Righteousness is not risen upon him. He discerns nothing of the love of God in Christ. If he reads the scripture, the vail is upon his heart. If he hears of Jesus, he sees no beauty in him. Nothing is nearer to him than the Lord, and nothing further from his thoughts. To tell him of the sweetness of the word of God, is strange to him; for he tastes nothing of sweetness in it. To tell him of the loveliness of ordinances and the Sabbaths; these are strange things in his esteem. My soul, if indeed thine eyes be opened, thou wilt know that thou wast once indeed blind, in the fullest sense of the word, to all these delightful views of sacred things, which now are thy supreme pleasure and thy joy. Say, then, what hast thou seen to justify this saying: “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see?” Hast thou seen the king in his beauty? Hast thou seen with the eye of faith the glories of Jesus? Yes, if so be all other objects are obscured. The sight of Jesus, as the Christ of God, hath darkened the glory andexcellency of all beside, Jesus, as he is in himself, as he is in his offices, characters, relations; as he is to thee and thy happiness; is the one, the only one thing needful; and thou must count all things but dung and dross to win Christ. These, my soul, are blessed tokens that Jesus hath opened thine eyes, and brought thee out of darkness into his marvellous light. By and by thou shalt see him as he is, and dwell with him for ever.
EVENING AUGUST 31
“O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies? For the Canaanites, and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?”—Josh 7:8-9
My soul, learn a most blessed lesson here, such as will be an unanswerable argument for thee at all times, and upon all occasions, to make use of at a mercyseat, and among the strongest pleas in prayer. Israel had sinned, and had fallen before the enemy in consequence of it. Joshua confesseth that all that was come upon Israel was just, and had that been all the event included in Israel’s destruction, it would have been no more than what was right. But God had promised to bring Israel into Canaan; and therefore the honour of God was concerned that this should be accomplished. Now, saith Joshua, if for our sins thou sufferest us to fall before our enemies, what will the nations of the earth say of it? How will the promise be fulfilled, and thy faithfulness and honour be secured? “O Lord, what shall I say? What wilt thou do unto thy great name?” Pause, my soul, and apply the sweet truth. God will magnify his name above all his word. He saith himself, ”I wrought for my name’s sake, that the land should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight they dwelt.” And the Lord repeats it three times, to the same purpose, in one chapter, Ezek 20:9,14,22. Now, my soul, under all thy straights and difficulties, do thou adopt the plan of Joshua, and be assured that this is the great argument to ensure success. His name is engaged in and to Jesus, to give him to see the travail of his soul, now he hath made his soul an offering for sin, and to be satisfied. Hence, therefore, the name of Jehovah is pledged to this. “Once have I sworn,” he saith, “by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David;” Ps 89:35. Every believer in Christ should be for ever pleading this in the blood and righteousness of Jesus. Dost thou want pardon? Ask it for his name’s sake. Dost thou want grace? Here again let the Lord’s name’s sake be the plea. To interest the name of the Lord in every petition, is the sure way to obtain it. To plead duties, or ordinances, or, in short, any thing but Jesus, and God the Father’s covenant engagements to Jesus, is to go off the ground. No reason, or shadow of a reason can be found, but God’s own name, and this engaged in a way of redemption by Jesus, wherefore the Lord should be merciful to pardon and bless a poor sinner. Do not forget this, but for ever plead with the Lord for his name’s sake, and for his glory in Christ; and the event will surely be that Jehovah must work, and, as he hath said himself, have pity for his holy name, “that it be not profaned among the heathen:” and answer thy petition for grace. And Oh! how blessed that scripture in which the Lord sums up and confirms the whole, on this one account: “Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed, and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel;” Ezekiel 36:22,32.