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30 November, 2013


by Octavius Winslow, 1859


"The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes." 1 Pet. 1:7

It is the preciousness of trial in general, including the preciousness of the trial of faith in particular, to which the apostle thus refers. We propose, therefore, to amplify the truth, and to illustrate in the present chapter the preciousness of all those trials of which, more or less, the saints of God are partakers. This view may present the subject of trial in a point of light more soothing and sanctifying than the reader has been used to contemplate it. You have thought of trial, have anticipated trial, have met trial, have shrunk from trial as the patient recoils from the surgeon's lance, forgetting that that very trial was the needed process by which God was about to work out some great good in your personal experience; and that so far from being dreaded, it should be welcomed as among the most precious things of God, the richest blessings of the everlasting covenant. The points we propose to illustrate are trial—the preciousness of trial—and the blessings that spring from trial.

The term is expressive. It refers to a process by which the character or strength of a thing is tested. The engineer tries the base of his arch, the architect tries the foundation of his building, the refiner tries the nature of his ore. The word trial thus acquires a significant import in relation to that disciplinary process by which God proves His people. Trial, then, becomes a necessary element in the schooling and training of the children of God for duty and service upon earth, and for enjoyment and glory in heaven. Exempt the Church of God from trial, and she is excluded from a process the results of which are incalculable in her experience.

It will tend to open this subject more forcibly, if we consider who the Lord tries in the sense in which the term is now employed. There is one passage in God's book which contains—as many brief sentences of inspired truth do—a volume in a word, and it will supply the answer to the question, Who does the Lord try"The Lord tries the righteous." The furnace in which God places His people—in other words, the process of trial by which He proves them—is not the same by which the ungodly world is tried. "The fire in Zion, and His furnace in Jerusalem," are only for His own elect. 

He has the crucible for gold, and the crucible for earth—the fire of love, and the fire of wrath; and in nothing will He more distinguish His own people from the ungodly,—the gold from the "reprobate silver,"—than in the mode by which both are thus dealt with. He tries the righteous because they are righteous; He chastens His sons, because they are sons; He reproves, rebukes, afflicts them, because He loves them, having "chosen them in the furnace of affliction." What touching words of Christ are these—who can read them without emotion?"As many as I love I rebuke and chasten." Again, "Whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives." Thus, it is His own people, His righteous, His holy ones, on whom His afflictive hand is often the most severely and heavily laid. "The Lord tries the RIGHTEOUS."

But what does the Lord try? It is not our fallen nature that He tries, the existence of whose depravity is clear and unmistakable. There needs no proof that we are sinful and corrupt, and that "in our flesh there dwells no good thing." But the Lord tries His own wondrous work of grace in the soul. He tries everything that is divine, and good, and holy in the regenerate. He tries their principles, He tries their motives, He tries their graces, He tries their knowledge, He tries their experience, He tries His own work. Take, for example, a few of the spiritual graces which He more especially brings to the test of trial. He tries the believer's love."Loves you me more than this?" is often the probing question of Jesus to His disciples. He will test the reality, the sincerity, the strength of our love to Him—whether it can confide in Him when He smites, cling to Him when He retires, obey Him when He commands—whether it will entwine around Him the closer that the storms seek to tear it from its hold. "Can you resign this blessing?

will you undertake this service? are you able to drink this cup, or bear this cross for me?" is the significant language of many a trial with which the Lord tries the righteous. Happy if your love sustains the test of its sincerity, and your heart replies, "Yes, Lord; Your love inspiring my love, Your grace helping my infirmity, Your strength perfected in my weakness, I can—I will—I DO."

The Lord tries also the patience of His people. There is, perhaps, no grace of the Spirit, or adornment of the Christian character more overlooked than this, and yet there is not one more precious, God-honoring, and beautifying. To find this divine and rare pearl, we must often pass from the surface of society, and seek it—where, indeed, the piety and taste of few lead them—amid scenes of suffering, of grief, of adversity. In some secluded apartment, on some couch of languor, or bed of sickness, shaded by poverty and loneliness, this divine grace may exist—no eye beholding its sparkling amid the surrounding gloom, but His whose"eyes are over the righteous, and whose ear is open to their cry." There may be seen the patient, quiet spirit of a humble believer in Jesus, enduring without a murmuring word, bearing without a rebellious feeling; suffering without a hard thought of Him who has smitten—with a calm, submissive, dignified surrender to the Divine disposal—the will of God. 

And yet, who, in whatever path he walks, finds not, in some circumstances of his daily history, the "need of patience?" The trying circumstances of life—the chafings of the hourly cross—the constant contact with dissimilar tastes, uncongenial minds, unsympathizing hearts—the delays in answer to prayer—the ceaseless pain—the restless head—the nervous temperament, to which the buzzing of a fly is agony—above all, the hidings of God, the tarrying of Jesus, the suspension of the Spirit's consolation—all, all demand the exercise of that patience with which the believer possesses his soul. This is the grace the Lord tries! Ah! how little know we of the impatience of our spirit—the petulance and unsubmissiveness which will brook no delay, which frets against the Lord, and rebels against His dealings—until the Lord tries us. But He tries our patience only to increase it. 

Humbled under the conviction how rebellious and repining is our spirit, we are led to cry mightily to God to give to us this grace, meekly to endure, silently to suffer, and cheerfully to do His will. "The Lord direct your hearts into the patience of Christ." "You have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." We are exhorted to "let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." "Here is the patience of the saints."

I have spoken of the trial of faith. Without recalling the train of thought already pursued, it may be well briefly to remark, that faith being the queen-grace of the graces—all others constituting her regal attendants—the Lord especially tries this grace of the believer, and by so doing He indirectly tries and so strengthens all the cognate graces of the soul. Thus, we read, "The trial of your faith works patience." And what are the ends to be accomplished in the trial of faith? The Lord tries our faith to test its genuineness, to promote its purity, to invigorate its power—thus to bring us into a more intimate acquaintance with Himself. Never should we try God as we do did He not try us as He does.

 We should, alas! be content to travel many a stage without Him. No childlike sense of dependence—no holy communes—no seeking His will—no trying of His love, faithfulness, and wisdom. How seldom would the Lord see our uplifted face, or our outstretched hands, or hear the plaint accents of our voice, did He permit this grace to lie sluggish and stagnant in the soul. But it is "living water" which Christ has deposited within the regenerate, and trial is needed to keep it pure, sparkling, and ascending. Be you sure of this, then, beloved, that the Lord thus exercises your faith only to make you a richer possessor of this most enriching of the graces. It is a kind process of Jesus by which He seeks your greatest good. 

The more your faith is tried, the more it deals with God, and travels to Christ; and it is impossible for you to spend one minute with God, or to catch one glimpse of Christ, and not be sensibly and immeasurably the gainer. The more your faith leads you to the throne of grace, the more precious will prayer become. The more your faith deals with the atonement of Christ, the more will the glory of His work unfold to your mind. The more your faith takes hold of the Divine promises, the more will it be confirmed in the truth of God's word. Thus faith—so supernatural and wondrous a grace is it—transmutes everything it touches into most precious gold, and so confers upon its tried but happy possessor "greater riches than the treasures of Egypt."

But who can travel the circle of all the trials to which the saints of God are subject? How great their variety! how peculiar often their character! Each child of God seems to move in a groove peculiar to himself, to revolve round the great center in an orbit of his own. The Lord deals with us as individuals that we may have individual dealings with Him. Therefore, among the catalogue of the Christian's trials, those of an individual nature may take the precedence of all others. It is a great mercy when we can retire from the crowd and deal with God individually—when we can take the precious promises to ourselves individually—when we can repair to Jesus with individual sins, infirmities, and sorrows, feeling that His eye bends its glance upon us, His ear bows down to us, His hand is outstretched to us, His whole heart absorbed in us, as though not another claimant, suitor, or sufferer unveiled a sorrow or preferred a request—as if, in a word, we were the solitary object of His love. 

Oh, deal with Christ personally, even as He deals personally with you. His invitation is, "Come unto ME,"—and He would have you come,—and you cannot honor Him more—recognizing His personality, and His personal relation to yourself, and disclosing your personal circumstances, making confession of personal sin, presenting personal wants, and unveiling personal infirmities, backslidings, and sorrows.

29 November, 2013

Three Degrees of Christ's Manifestation - CHRIST SHOWING HIMSELF THROUGH THE LATTICE- Part 3

By Octavius Winslow, 1849



This is a clearer and more glorious discovery of Christ, inasmuch as it is the manifestation of Christ in the revealed word. Our Lord does not want to conceal Himself from His saints. He remembers that all their loveliness is through Him, that all their grace is in Him, that all their happiness is from Him, and therefore He delights to afford them every means and occasion of increasing their knowledge of, and of perfecting their resemblance to, Him. The 'lattice' of His house is figurative of the doctrines, precepts, and promises of His Gospel. Through these the Lord Jesus manifests Himself, when we come to the study of the word, not as self-sufficient teachers, but as sincere and humble learners, deeply conscious how little we really know, and thirsting to know more of God in Jesus. The Lord Jesus often shows Himself through these 'lattices'- perhaps some type, or prophecy, or doctrine, or command- and we are instructed, sanctified, and blest. It is the loss of so many readers of the Bible, that they search it, but not for Christ. 

Men will study it with the view of increasing their knowledge of science and of philosophy, of poetry and of painting; but how few search into it for Jesus! And yet in knowing Him the arcades of all spiritual mystery are unlocked- all that God designed to communicate in the present world. To know God, is to comprehend all knowledge- God is only truly known as revealed in Jesus- therefore, he who is experimentally acquainted with Jesus, holds in his hand the key that unlocks the vast treasury of God's revealed mind and heart. "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." O search for Christ in the 'lattice' of the word! The type contains Him, the prophecy unfolds Him, the doctrine teaches Him, the precept speaks of Him, the promise leads to Him.

How has the light of the beauty and excellence of Christ, flashing upon the understanding from the glass of the gospel, filled the will and affections of many with desire and love to that glory it represents, and that state it offers! Grace is a beam from the Sun of righteousness, but darted through the medium of gospel air; a pearl produced of the blood of Christ, but only in the gospel sea. Rejoice in the word, but only as the wise men did in the star, as it led them to Christ. The word of Christ is precious, but nothing more precious than Christ Himself, and His formation in the soul. Rest not in the word, but look through it, to Christ.

Blessed Lord, I would sincerely open this box of precious ointment- your own word- that the fragrance of Your grace and of Your name might revive me. It is Your word, and not man's word that can meet my case, and satisfy my soul. Man can only direct me to You, Your word brings me to You. Your servants can at best but bring You in Your gospel to my heart, but Your Spirit of truth brings You through the gospel into my heart. O show Yourself to me in the gospel 'lattice' of Your word, and I shall rejoice as one that has found great spoil- in finding You.

In conclusion, be cautious, dear reader, how you erect walls, or permit them to be erected, between Christ and your soul. Beware of that which separates from God- which separates, not from Himself, but from the manifestation of Himself; not from His love, but from the experience of His love; not from His covenant, but from the 'secret of His covenant.' "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Nothing but sin separates between God and the soul. Affliction often quickens to a greater nearness to God; temptation and trial often are instrumental of a closer and holier walk; but sin invariably has a separating effect; it drives the soul from God. The moment the consciousness of guilt fastened itself upon the once undefiled and peaceful conscience of Adam, he ran away from God, like a constellation suddenly breaking from its attraction and its orbit, and wandering away into darkness, and distance, and death. God no longer attracted and fixed him; the light of his soul was extinguished, and he became a "wandering star"- yet destined, through sovereign grace, to be again brought back by the Sun of righteousness.

But if there is, perhaps, one sin more than another, that tends to throw up a towering wall of separation between Christ and the believing soul, it is the sin of unbelief. No sin can more dishonor the name of God, or grieve the heart of Jesus, or bring greater distress into the soul than this. God has done the utmost which His infinite wisdom dictated, to lay the most solid ground for confidence. "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us."

He has made all the promises of the covenant of grace absolute and unconditional. Were faith simply to credit this, what "strong consolation" would flow into the soul! Take, for example, that exceeding great and precious promise, "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." What a sparkling jewel, what a brilliant gem is this! How many a weeping eye has caught the luster, and has forgotten its misery, as waters that pass away! While others, perhaps, gazing intently upon it, have said, "This promise exactly suits my case, but is it for me? is it for one so vile as I? who by my own indiscretion, and folly, and sin, have brought this trouble upon myself? May such an one as I call upon God and be answered?" What is this unbelieving reasoning, but to render this Divine and most exhilarating promise, as to any practical influence upon your mind, of none effect? But the promise stands in God's word absolute and unconditional. There is not one syllable in it upon which the most unworthy child of sorrow can reasonably found an objection.

Is it now with you a 'day of trouble?'- God makes no exception as to how, or by whom, or from where your trouble came. It is enough that it is a time of trouble with you; that you are in sorrow, and in difficulty, and in trial- God says to you, "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you." Resign, then, your unbelief, embrace the promise, and behold Jesus showing Himself through its open 'lattice.'

Take yet another glorious promise, "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away." "This is just the promise that my poor, guilty, anxious heart needs," exclaims a trembling, sin-distressed soul; "but dare I, with all my sin, and wretchedness, and poverty, take up my rest in Christ? What! may I who have been so long an enemy against God, such a despiser of Christ, such a neglecter of my soul and scoffer of its great salvation, approach with a trembling yet assured hope that Christ will receive me, save me, and not cast me out?" Yes! you may. The promise is absolute and unconditional, and magnificent and precious as it is, it is yours. "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away." Satan shall not persuade me, sin shall not prevail with me, my own heart shall not constrain me, yes, nothing shall induce me, to cast out that poor sinner who comes to me, believes my word, falls upon my grace, and hides himself in my pierced bosom! "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away."

My reader, is Jesus your soul's Beloved? Can you in humble faith exclaim, "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine?" Then, covet His manifestation to your soul; God in Christ has laid prostrate every 'wall' on His part that would prevent your near approach to Him. The Breaker is gone up before you, the gate is open, and God waits to reveal Himself to you in Jesus. "Draw near unto God, and He will draw near unto you." Is there any wall of separation on your part behind which your beloved Lord stands? Search and see. Is it the world, or the creature, or an unholy life? Yes, is there any self-erected object that obscures your view of Christ, and prevents His manifestations to you? Submit it to Jesus, and beseech Him in love, in gentleness, and in grace to remove it, rather than that you should lose one glimpse of your beloved Lord. He is behind that wall; let it fall- and behold! He stands before you, arrayed in ten thousand charms!

And do not be satisfied with the mere open window- seek for Jesus in the window, and looking forth upon you with eyes of love. Do not come away from an ordinance without seeing your Beloved in it. While engaged in the hallowed service, watch against the wandering eye, the wavering mind, the truant affection, the cold, formal frame. Fix every glance, and thought, and affection on one object- JESUS. Let it be indeed the "communion of the body and the blood of Christ." And as it is a solemn occasion of the Lord's especial nearness to your soul, let it also be a season of especial opening of your heart to the Lord. Confess to Him all your sins, declare to Him all your sorrows, make known to Him all your needs; for while thus, like the beloved disciple, leaning upon His bosom at supper, you may indulge in the fullest, closest, and most confidential communion with your Lord.

Oh seek to know that He is your Beloved; and attempt not to rest in anything short of the blessed assurance, "I Am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."
"Long did I toil, and knew no earthly rest;
Far did I rove, and found no certain home
At last I sought them in His sheltering breast
who opens His arms, and bids the weary come.
With Him I found a home, a rest divine,
And I since then am His, and He is mine."
"Yes, He is mine! and nothing of earthly things,
Not all the charms of pleasure, wealth, or power,
The fame of heroes, or the pomp of kings,
Could tempt me to forego His love an hour.
Go, worthless world, I say, with all that's yours!
Go! I my Savior's am, and He is mine."
"The good I have is from His stores supplied;
The ill is only what He deems the best
He for my Friend, I'm rich with nothing beside;
And poor without Him, though of all possessed.
Changes may come- I take, or I resign,
Content, while I am His, while He is mine."
"Whatever may change, in Him no change is seen,
A glorious Sun, that wanes not nor declines;
Above the clouds and storms He walks serene,
And sweetly on His people's darkness shines.
All may depart! fret not, nor repine,
While I my Savior's am, and He is mine."
"He stays me falling; lifts me up when down;
Reclaims me wandering; guards from every foe;
Plants on my worthless brow the Victor's crown,
Which in return before His feet I throw;
Grieved that I cannot better grace His shrine
Who deigns to own me His, as He is mine."
"While here, alas! I know but half His love,
But half discern Him, and but half adore;
But when I meet Him in the realms above,
I hope to love Him better, praise him more,
And feel and tell, amid the choir divine,
How fully I am His, and He is mine."

28 November, 2013

Three Degrees of Christ's Manifestation by Octavius Winslow - Part 2

By Octavius Winslow, 1849



"Now he is looking in through the windows." The Church of Christ is His house. "Christ is a Son over his own house; whose house we are." The ordinances of His Church are the windows of this house, and in these ordinances Christ appears and manifests Himself to His people. But here let me remark how sadly are these windows obscured, these ordinances mystified, perverted, and abused by many. What numbers in their blindness substitute the mere window, for 'Christ appearing' in the window; as if an ordinance without Christ were anything. Every institution of the Christian Church in which Christ is not recognized, seen by faith, and by faith lived upon; is a window closed, darkened, and obscured; it exhibits no object and admits no light. And yet to thousands, the Lord's Supper is nothing more!

But to the soul hungering and thirsting for the Lord Jesus in the ordinance, Jesus presents Himself. He draws back the shutter, opens the window, stands within it, and looks forth upon His people, clustering around His table, desiring to remember His love. "Precious Jesus!" is the meditation of a soul, thus looking for its Beloved, "I have come to Your ordinance invited by Your love, drawn by Your Spirit, but what is it to my soul without You? The minister may open this institution with clearness and power, but if You do not manifest Yourself, to break and heal my heart- if I do not catch one glimpse of You, my Lord, it is no ordinance of grace or sweetness to my soul. I need by faith to see You in the baptism of Your sufferings, to feed upon Your flesh, and to drink of Your blood. I need to enjoy communion with You. 

You know, Lord, the workings of my heart; You know that this is the great desire of my soul, that I might enjoy fellowship with You. Oh that I might have more of Christ, that I might meet with Christ, that I might have some further manifestation of Christ, and that I might have my soul closer knit to Christ. I come with thirsting after Jesus, knowing my infinite need of Him, and His infinite excellency and fulness to meet my case. My soul does famish and perish without Christ; but in the enjoyment of Christ there is a sufficiency for the satisfying of my soul. That which I have had of Christ, sometimes in the word, and sometimes in prayer, has been sweet unto my taste; but I look for closer communion, for a clearer manifestation of Christ here, for this is the great 'communion of the body and blood of Jesus.' Behold, Lord, I approach these windows of Your house, a poor, unworthy, backsliding child, tried and tempted; yet just as I am, dear Lord, I come. 

I dare not, I cannot stay away from You, You Divine loadstone of my heart, You precious magnet of my soul! Draw me, and then I run after You; You show Yourself in the window; You overcome me with Your beauty and Your love- I exclaim, 'Turn away Your eyes from me, for they have overcome me.' Blessed Spirit! I have been taught to believe that You will take of the things of Jesus and show them unto me. Open the window of this ordinance, and let me behold my soul's Beloved standing within it. I cannot live, I cannot die, without Him. Living or dying I must have Christ. 'I am my Beloved's, and His desire is towards me;' and truly my soul's desire is towards Him. There is to my soul no love like Christ's love. There is no voice like Christ's voice. There is no sympathy like Christ's sympathy. 

There is no friend like this Friend- there is no Christ like my Christ. The window is open! 'The voice of my Beloved! behold, He comes, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.' He looks forth at the window; and lively faith, and ardent love, and sweet contrition, and joy, possess and overwhelm my soul!"
"I love the windows of Your grace,
In which my Lord is seen.
And long to meet my Savior's face
Without a glass between."
"Oh that the happy hour were come
To change my faith to sight!
I shall behold my Lord at home
In a diviner light."
"Hasten, my Beloved, and remove
These interposing clays
Then shall my passions all be love,
And all my powers be praise."...........................

27 November, 2013

Three Degrees of Christ's Manifestation by Octavius Winslow - Part 1

By Octavius Winslow, 1849


My beloved is like a swift gazelle or a young deer.
Look, there he is behind our wall!
Now he is looking in through the windows, showing himself through the lattice." Song 2:9

Such is the infinite majesty, and such the superlative beauty of the Lord Jesus, that were He, in our present state, to stand before us fully unveiled to the eye, overwhelmed with the effulgence of His presence we should exclaim, "Lord, temper Your glory to my feeble capacity; or enlarge my capacity to the dimensions of Your glory!" When in the days of His humiliation He stood upon Mount Tabor in close converse with Moses and Elijah upon the decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem, glowing with the grandeur of the theme, and fired with the thought of the redemption that was before Him, the veil of His humanity would seem for a moment to have dropped, and the Godhead it could imperfectly conceal, shone forth with such overpowering splendor that the disciples who were with Him fell at His feet as dead. After His ascension into heaven, and His inauguration at the right hand of His Father, He again manifested forth His glory in an apocalyptic vision to John at Patmos; and again the same overpowering effects were produced. "And when I saw him," narrates the exiled evangelist, "I fell at his feet as dead."

And yet this is the Savior "whom the nations abhor," whom "men despise and reject," possessing to their eye "no form nor loveliness wherefore they should desire him." This is He to whom the world He created, refused a home, and whom man allowed not to live, casting Him out as an accursed thing, too vile in their view to dwell among them- fit only to die! Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes were fountains of tears, that I might weep, dear Lord, while meditating upon the ignominy, the insult, and the suffering to which my species subjected You. Had another order of being so insulted Your person; so mangled Your form; so requited Your love; so slighted and abhorred You; I might have wept in secret places; mourned, and afflicted my soul, and vowed eternal vengeance against Your calumniators and your murderers! But it was hatred, ingratitude, and malignity wearing my own nature- it was MAN, yes, Lord, it was I myself! But for my sin, my crime, my hell, that spotless soul of Yours had known no burden, that gentle spirit no cloud, that tender heart no grief, and that sacred body no scar. And when I read the story of how You were wronged- how they calumniated You, blasphemed You, scourged You, spit upon You, mocked You, smote You, and then bore You to a felon's death- I could cover myself with sackcloth, and bury my face in ashes, and no more cherish the sin- the hateful, the abhorred, the accursed sin, that caused it all.

But, overpowering as a full unveiling of the majesty of the Lord Jesus would be to us in our present imperfect state, it yet ranks among our most prized and precious mercies, that He does at periods so graciously and especially manifest Himself as to awaken the exclamation, "This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Holy and blessed are such seasons! Delighted, yet amazed, the believer inquires, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself unto us, and not unto the world?" He answers, and resolves the mystery- as He does the mystery of all His dealings with us- into love. "He who loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." Our experience of these divine manifestations of Christ form one of the strongest evidences of His indwelling in our hearts. To none but those who fear the Lord is the mystery of His covenant revealed. "The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him." They whose posture of soul most resembles that of the 'beloved disciple,' are led the deepest into the secret of God's love to us in Jesus. It would seem impossible for the Lord to withhold its disclosure from those who in confidence and in love reposed upon the heart that contained it. Their intimate acquaintance with Jesus must bring them into a closer relation and communion with God; it must result in a deeper acquaintance with Him- His glory, His mind, and His love. Blessed, but much forgotten truth- he who knows much of the Son, knows also much of the Father.

We propose to guide the reader's reflections to a subject of the deepest and holiest interest- the different manifestations of Christ to the soul. To one acquainted, in any degree, with these discoveries, whose Christianity is vital and real, something more than the mere "naming the name of Christ," what theme can be sweeter? Oh that the Spirit of truth, the Glorifier of Christ, may now enlarge our view of this subject; and while meditating on the manifestations of our Beloved, may He approach and make Himself known to us in the way of especial and blessed revelation.

The passage upon which this meditation is based PRESENTS OUR LORD IN THREE DIFFERENT POSTURES, each one most expressive and significant. We have CHRIST BEHIND THE WALL; CHRIST LOOKING IN THE WINDOW; and CHRIST SHOWING HIMSELF THROUGH THE LATTICE. My soul! behold your Beloved, bounding towards you 'like a gazelle or a young deer,' in all the fleetness and intensity of His affections, to manifest Himself to you. "Look, there He is BEHIND OUR WALL!" What wall? Not the wall of the old covenant of the Jewish Church, for that is removed, and can no longer obscure Jesus from the eye of the Church, or prevent His clear manifestation. He has removed it in order to bring Himself near to His people. "But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were once far off, are made near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us: having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances."

Behind this wall Jesus did once stand, and although thus partially obscured, yet to those who had faith to see Him, dwelling though they were in the twilight of the Gospel, He manifested Himself as the true Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of His people. "Abraham rejoiced to see my day," says Jesus, "and he saw it, and was glad." But this wall no longer stands. The shadows are fled, the darkness is dispersed, and the true light now shines. Beware of those teachers who would rebuild this wall; and who by their superstitious practices, and legal representations of the Gospel, do in effect rebuild it. Remember that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes."

But it is behind "our wall" that Jesus stands- the wall which we, the new covenant saints, erect. Many are the separating influences between Christ and His people; many are the walls which we, alas! allow to intervene, behind which we cause Him to stand. "Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I am pained at my very heart;" literally, as in the margin, the walls of my heart. What are the infidelity; (I had almost said atheism), the carnality, the coldness, the many sins of our hearts, but so many obstructions to Christ's full and frequent manifestations of Himself to our souls?

But were we to specify one obstruction in particular, we would mention unbelief, as the great separating wall between Christ and His people. This was the wall which obscured from the view of Thomas his risen Lord. And while the little Church was jubilant in the new life and joy with which their living Savior inspired them, he alone lingered in doubt and sadness, amid the shadows of the tomb. "Unless I thrust my hand into his side I will not believe." Nothing more effectually separates us from, or rather obscures our view of, Christ, than the sin of unbelief. Not fully crediting His word- not simply and implicitly relying upon His work- not trusting His faithfulness and love- not receiving Him wholly and following Him fully- only believing and receiving half that He says and commands- not fixing the eye upon Jesus as risen and alive, as ascended and enthroned, having all fulness, all power, all love. Oh this unbelief is a dead, towering wall between our Beloved and our souls!

And yet does He stand behind it? Does it not compel Him to depart and leave us forever? Ah no! He is there! O wondrous grace, matchless love, infinite patience! Wearied with forbearing, and yet there! Doubted, distrusted, grieved, and yet standing there- His locks wet with the dew of the morning- waiting to be gracious, longing to manifest Himself. Nothing has prevailed to compel Him to withdraw. When our coldness might have prevailed, when our fleshliness might have prevailed, when our neglect, ingratitude, and backslidings might have prevailed, never has He entirely and forever withdrawn. His post is to watch with a sleepless eye of love the purchase of His dying agonies, and to 'guard His vineyard of red wine, night and day lest any hurt it.'

Oh! who can adequately picture the concern, the tenderness, and jealousy with which the Son of God keeps His especial treasure? And whatever would force Him to retire- whether it be the coldness that congeals, or the fierce flame that would consume- yet such is His deathless love for His people, 'He withdraws not His eye from the righteous' for one moment. There stands the "Friend that sticks closer than a brother," waiting to beam upon them a glance of His love-enkindled eye, and to manifest Himself to them as He does not unto the world, even from behind our wall. "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God."...........

25 November, 2013

Morning and Evening Prayer with Charles Spurgeon

November 25 — Morning

"To preach deliverance to the captives." Luke 4:18
None but Jesus can give deliverance to captives. Real liberty comes from Him alone.

It is a liberty righteously bestowed; for the Son, who is Heir of all things, has a right to make men free. The saints honor the justice of God, which now secures their salvation.

It is a liberty which has been dearly purchased. Christ speaks it by His power—but He bought it by His blood. He makes you free—but it is by His own bonds. You go clear, because He bore your burden for you. You are set at liberty, because He has suffered in your stead.

But, though dearly purchased, He freely gives it. Jesus asks nothing of us as a preparation for this liberty. He finds us sitting in sackcloth and ashes, and bids us put on the beautiful array of freedom. He saves us just as we are, and all without our help or merit.

When Jesus sets free, the liberty is perpetually entailed; no chains can bind again. Let the Master say to me, "Captive, I have delivered you!" and it is done forever. Satan may plot to enslave us—but if the Lord is on our side—whom shall we fear? The world, with its temptations, may seek to ensnare us—but mightier is He who is for us than all those who are against us. The machinations of our own deceitful hearts may harass and annoy us—but He who has begun the good work in us will carry it on and perfect it to the end. The foes of God and the enemies of man may gather their hosts together, and come with concentrated fury against us—but if God acquits, who is he who condemns? Not more free is the eagle which mounts to his rocky eyrie, and afterwards outsoars the clouds, than the soul which Christ has delivered.

If we are no more under the law—but free from its curse, let our liberty be practically exhibited in our serving God with gratitude and delight. "I am Your servant, and the son of your handmaid—You have loosed my bonds." "Lord, what will You have me to do?"

November 25 — Evening

"I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." Romans 9:15

In these words the Lord in the plainest manner claims the right to give or to withhold His saving mercy, according to His own sovereign will. As the prerogative of life and death is vested in the monarch, so the Judge of all the earth has a right to spare or condemn the guilty, as may seem best in His sight.

Men by their sins have forfeited all claim upon God; they deserve to perish for their sins—and if they all do so, they have no ground for complaint. If the Lord steps in to save any, He may do so if the ends of justice are not thwarted; but if He judges it best to leave the condemned to suffer the righteous sentence, none may arraign Him at their bar. Foolish and impudent, are all those discourses against God's sovereign grace, which are but the rebellions of proud human nature against the crown and scepter of Jehovah.

When we are brought to see our own utter ruin and ill desert, and the justice of the divine verdict against sin—we no longer cavil at the truth that the Lord is not bound to save us. We do not murmur if He chooses to save others, as though He were doing us an injury—but feel that if He deigns to look upon us, it will be His own free act of undeserved goodness, for which we shall forever bless His name!

How shall those who are the subjects of divine election, sufficiently adore the grace of God? They have no room for boasting, for sovereignty most effectually excludes it. The Lord's will alone is glorified, and the very notion of human merit is cast out to everlasting contempt! There is no more humbling doctrine in Scripture—than that of election! There are none more promotive of gratitude, and, consequently, none more sanctifying. Believers should not be afraid of it—but adoringly rejoice in it!

24 November, 2013

The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble


Delighting in God!
James Smith, 1842

"Delight yourself in the Lord — and He shall give you the desires of your heart!"
 Psalm 37:4

Delighting in worldly things — effectually prevents our delighting in God. Therefore it is often the case, the Lord strips us of these things, or incapacitates us to enjoy them — in order to bring us back to delight in Himself.

He delights in His people — and He desires His people to delight in Him. In order to accomplish this, He has revealed Himself in the most amiable characters, as . . .
  a Husband;
  a Friend;
  a Brother;
  a Savior;
  a Shepherd, and so forth —
on purpose to endear Himself to us!

Surely if our hearts were right — we would delight in Him on account of . . .
  His glorious perfections;
  His unalterable love;
  the perfect atonement made for our sins;
  the promises made for our comfort and encouragement on earth;
  the gift of the Holy Spirit;
  the communion we are urged to hold with Himself;
  and the glorious paradise of blessedness set before us — where we shall forever . . .
    view the unfolding of His glories,
    enjoy the riches of His grace, and
    drink of the river of His pleasures!

My sick friend, Jesus bids you to delight yourself in Him!
Delight in Him as your Savior, Friend, and Brother!
Delight in His person and glories!
Delight in His perfect work!
Delight in His glorious fullness!
Delight in your salvation in Him, union to Him, and claim upon Him.
Oh, delight in Jesus! 
You will have no permanent peace or solid satisfaction — but as you are led to delight in Him, and to rejoice in Him, saying, "You are my portion, O Lord!"
He who delights in God has the desires of His heart — because they are in accordance with the purpose, promise, and pleasure of God.

The mind is thrown into the mold of God's mind, and the soul cries from its inmost recesses, "Not my will — but may Your will be done!" Its pleasures are spiritual, permanent, and satisfactory. The desire for earthly things becomes very contracted — a little of the things of this poor world will satisfy a soul that is delighting in Jehovah.

Delighting in God always produces resignation and holy contentment. Whatever they have — they enjoy it as the undeserved gift of God; and they feel obligated and thankful for all. They would rather be conformed to God's will — than have their own will. They know that His appointments are best — because they are infinitely wise, holy, and gracious. They can say, "I trust in You, O Lord, for You are my God! My times are in Your hand!" They find godliness with contentment to be great gain; and say with one of old, "The little that a righteous man has — is better than the riches of many wicked!" "Better a little with the fear of the Lord — than great treasure with turmoil."

The presence, the promise, and the smile of God — are to them inestimably valuable; but other things are not so important. They seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness — and all other necessary things are added unto them. They live at the fountain — when all the streams are dried up! They delight in God — when creatures fade and wither!
O Lord! I would delight in Thee,
And on Your care depend;
To You in every trouble flee,
My best, my only Friend!

No good in creatures can be found,
But may be found in Thee;
I must have all things and abound,
While God is God to me!