FORWARD AND CHRIST

GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

Morning

“Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
1 Samuel 7:12

The word “hitherto” seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet, “hitherto the Lord hath helped!” Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health, at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea, in honour, in dishonour, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation, “hitherto hath the Lord helped us!” We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves; even so look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys. Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received “hitherto.”

But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes “hitherto,” he is not yet at the end, there is still a distance to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death. Is it over now? No! there is more yet-awakening in Jesus’ likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment, the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fulness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. O be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy “Ebenezer,” for–

He who hath helped thee hitherto

Will help thee all thy journey through.

When read in heaven’s light how glorious and marvellous a prospect will thy “hitherto” unfold to thy grateful eye!

Evening

"I DUN KNOW"

“I DUN KNOW”

“What think ye of Christ?”
Matthew 22:42

The great test of your soul’s health is, What think you of Christ? Is he to you “fairer than the children of men”–“the chief among ten thousand”–the “altogether lovely”? Wherever Christ is thus esteemed, all the faculties of the spiritual man exercise themselves with energy. I will judge of your piety by this barometer: does Christ stand high or low with you? If you have thought little of Christ, if you have been content to live without his presence, if you have cared little for his honour, if you have been neglectful of his laws, then I know that your soul is sick–God grant that it may not be sick unto death! But if the first thought of your spirit has been, how can I honour Jesus? If the daily desire of your soul has been, “O that I knew where I might find him!” I tell you that you may have a thousand infirmities, and even scarcely know whether you are a child of God at all, and yet I am persuaded, beyond a doubt, that you are safe, since Jesus is great in your esteem. I care not for thy rags, what thinkest thou of his royal apparel? I care not for thy wounds, though they bleed in torrents, what thinkest thou of his wounds? are they like glittering rubies in thine esteem? I think none the less of thee, though thou liest like Lazarus on the dunghill, and the dogs do lick thee–I judge thee not by thy poverty: what thinkest thou of the King in his beauty? Has he a glorious high throne in thy heart? Wouldest thou set him higher if thou couldest? Wouldest thou be willing to die if thou couldest but add another trumpet to the strain which proclaims his praise? Ah! then it is well with thee. Whatever thou mayest think of thyself, if Christ be great to thee, thou shalt be with him ere long.

“Though all the world my choice deride,

Yet Jesus shall my portion be;

For I am pleased with none beside,

The fairest of the fair is he”

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Triumphal Entry

The triumphal entry into Jerusalem

BE A BEAREAN ACT S 17:11

‘Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.’ Matthew 21:5

Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 23:4–12

Christ would not have any pain in his kingdom; he would not have even an ass suffer by him, and if the foal had been taken away from its mother, there would have been the poor mother in the stable at home, thinking of its foal, like those oxen that the Philistines used when they took back the ark, and which went lowing as they went, because their calves were at home. Wondrous kingdom of Christ, in which the very beast shall have its share! ‘For the creature was made subject to vanity’ by our sin. It was the beast that suffered because we sinned, and Christ intends that his kingdom should bring back the beast to its own pristine happiness. ‘The lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the ****atrice’ den.’ Old Eden’s peacefulness, and the familiarity between man and the lower creatures, shall come back once more. And even now, wherever the gospel is fully known in man’s heart, man begins to recognise that he has no right wantonly to kill a sparrow or a worm, because it is in Christ’s dominion; and he who would not ride a foal without having its mother by its side, that it might be at peace and happy, would not have any of his disciples think lightly of the meanest creature that his hands have made. Blessed kingdom this which considers even the beasts! Does God care for oxen? Yes, he does; and for the very ass itself, that heir of toil, he cares.

For meditation: God spent two days of creation on animals and told Noah to build an ark as big as a liner rather than a lifeboat. Why? Because He cares for animals (Genesis 8:1). Animals have their own ‘fear not’ (Joel 2:22). The way you treat them says something about you (Proverbs 12:10). However, while showing love to animals, we must have more love for people and most love for God. The Israelites were commanded to treat animals properly (Deuteronomy 22:1–4; 25:4), but often had to sacrifice them in their greater love for God.

Sermon no. 405     18 August (1861)

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Morning

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.  Psalm 118:8

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
Psalm 118:8

“Watchman, what of the night?”
Isaiah 21:11

What enemies are abroad? Errors are a numerous horde, and new ones appear every hour: against what heresy am I to be on my guard? Sins creep from their lurking places when the darkness reigns; I must myself mount the watch-tower, and watch unto prayer. Our heavenly Protector foresees all the attacks which are about to be made upon us, and when as yet the evil designed us is but in the desire of Satan, he prays for us that our faith fail not, when we are sifted as wheat. Continue O gracious Watchman, to forewarn us of our foes, and for Zion’s sake hold not thy peace.

“Watchman, what of the night?” What weather is coming for the Church? Are the clouds lowering, or is it all clear and fair overhead? We must care for the Church of God with anxious love; and now that Popery and infidelity are both threatening, let us observe the signs of the times and prepare for conflict.

“Watchman, what of the night?” What stars are visible? What precious promises suit our present case? You sound the alarm, give us the consolation also. Christ, the polestar, is ever fixed in his place, and all the stars are secure in the right hand of their Lord.

But watchman, when comes the morning? The Bridegroom tarries. Are there no signs of his coming forth as the Sun of Righteousness? Has not the morning star arisen as the pledge of day? When will the day dawn, and the shadows flee away? O Jesus, if thou come not in person to thy waiting Church this day, yet come in Spirit to my sighing heart, and make it sing for joy.

“Now all the earth is bright and glad

With the fresh morn;

But all my heart is cold, and dark and sad:

Sun of the soul, let me behold thy dawn!

Come, Jesus, Lord,

O quickly come, according to thy word.”

Evening

Acts 2:33 - Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

Acts 2:33 – Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

“Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.”
Psalm 72:19

This is a large petition. To intercede for a whole city needs a stretch of faith, and there are times when a prayer for one man is enough to stagger us. But how far-reaching was the psalmist’s dying intercession! How comprehensive! How sublime! “Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.” It doth not exempt a single country however crushed by the foot of superstition; it doth not exclude a single nation however barbarous. For the cannibal as well as for the civilized, for all climes and races this prayer is uttered: the whole circle of the earth it encompasses, and omits no son of Adam. We must be up and doing for our Master, or we cannot honestly offer such a prayer. The petition is not asked with a sincere heart unless we endeavour, as God shall help us, to extend the kingdom of our Master. Are there not some who neglect both to plead and to labour? Reader, is it your prayer? Turn your eyes to Calvary. Behold the Lord of Life nailed to a cross, with the thorn-crown about his brow, with bleeding head, and hands, and feet. What! can you look upon this miracle of miracles, the death of the Son of God, without feeling within your bosom a marvellous adoration that language never can express? And when you feel the blood applied to your conscience, and know that he has blotted out your sins, you are not a man unless you start from your knees and cry, “Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.” Can you bow before the Crucified in loving homage, and not wish to see your Monarch master of the world? Out on you if you can pretend to love your Prince, and desire not to see him the universal ruler. Your piety is worthless unless it leads you to wish that the same mercy which has been extended to you may bless the whole world. Lord, it is harvest-time, put in thy sickle and reap.

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GREATER FAITH

A mystery! Saints sorrowing and Jesus glad!

suset in Israel

‘Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.’ John 11:14–15

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1–4

Jesus is talking of the death of his friend; let us listen to his words; perhaps we may find the key to his actions in the words of his lips. How surprising! He does not say, ‘I regret that I have tarried so long.’ He does not say, ‘I ought to have hastened, but even now it is not too late.’ Hear and marvel! Wonder of wonders, he says, ‘I am glad that I was not there.’ Glad? The word is out of place. Lazarus, by this time, is stinking in his tomb, and here is the Saviour glad! Martha and Mary are weeping their eyes out for sorrow, and yet their friend Jesus is glad. It is strange, it is passing strange. However, we may rest assured that Jesus knows better than we do, and our faith may therefore sit still and try to spell out his meaning, where our reason cannot find it at the first glance. ‘I am glad,’ says he, ‘for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe.’ We see it now: Christ is not glad because of sorrow, but only on account of the result of it. He knew that this temporary trial would help his disciples to a greater faith, and he so prizes their growth in faith that he is even glad of the sorrow which occasions it. He does as good as say, ‘I am glad for your sakes that I was not there to prevent the trouble, for now that it is come, it will teach you to believe in me, and this shall be much better for you than to have been spared the affliction.’ We have thus plainly before us the principle, that our Lord in his infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon his people’s faith, that he will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened.

For meditation: While we may find the individual ingredients which test our faith distasteful, we also should learn to rejoice in the hope of tasting the finished product (Romans 5:2–5; Hebrews 12:11;James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 1:5–7).

Sermon no. 585    7 August (1864)

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PURE LOVE VERSES DARKNESS

Morning

NEWFLASH

“The upright love thee”
Song of Solomon 1:4

Believers love Jesus with a deeper affection than they dare to give to any other being. They would sooner lose father and mother than part with Christ. They hold all earthly comforts with a loose hand, but they carry him fast locked in their bosoms. They voluntarily deny themselves for his sake, but they are not to be driven to deny him. It is scant love which the fire of persecution can dry up; the true believer’s love is a deeper stream than this. Men have laboured to divide the faithful from their Master, but their attempts have been fruitless in every age. Neither crowns of honour, now frowns of anger, have untied this more than Gordian knot. This is no every-day attachment which the world’s power may at length dissolve. Neither man nor devil have found a key which opens this lock. Never has the craft of Satan been more at fault than when he has exercised it in seeking to rend in sunder this union of two divinely welded hearts. It is written, and nothing can blot out the sentence, “The upright love thee.” The intensity of the love of the upright, however, is not so much to be judged by what it appears as by what the upright long for. It is our daily lament that we cannot love enough. Would that our hearts were capable of holding more, and reaching further. Like Samuel Rutherford, we sigh and cry, “Oh, for as much love as would go round about the earth, and over heaven–yea, the heaven of heavens, and ten thousand worlds–that I might let all out upon fair, fair, only fair Christ.” Alas! our longest reach is but a span of love, and our affection is but as a drop of a bucket compared with his deserts. Measure our love by our intentions, and it is high indeed; ’tis thus, we trust, our Lord doth judge of it. Oh, that we could give all the love in all hearts in one great mass, a gathering together of all loves to him who is altogether lovely!

Evening

TEMPTATION

TEMPTATION

“Satan hindered us.”
1 Thessalonians 2:18

Since the first hour in which goodness came into conflict with evil, it has never ceased to be true in spiritual experience, that Satan hinders us. From all points of the compass, all along the line of battle, in the vanguard and in the rear, at the dawn of day and in the midnight hour, Satan hinders us. If we toil in the field, he seeks to break the ploughshare; if we build the wall, he labours to cast down the stones; if we would serve God in suffering or in conflict–everywhere Satan hinders us. He hinders us when we are first coming to Jesus Christ. Fierce conflicts we had with Satan when we first looked to the cross and lived. Now that we are saved, he endeavours to hinder the completeness of our personal character. You may be congratulating yourself, “I have hitherto walked consistently; no man can challenge my integrity.” Beware of boasting, for your virtue will yet be tried; Satan will direct his engines against that very virtue for which you are the most famous. If you have been hitherto a firm believer, your faith will ere long be attacked; if you have been meek as Moses, expect to be tempted to speak unadvisedly with your lips. The birds will peck at your ripest fruit, and the wild boar will dash his tusks at your choicest vines. Satan is sure to hinder us when we are earnest in prayer. He checks our importunity, and weakens our faith in order that, if possible, we may miss the blessing. Nor is Satan less vigilant in obstructing Christian effort. There was never a revival of religion without a revival of his opposition. As soon as Ezra and Nehemiah begin to labour, Sanballat and Tobiah are stirred up to hinder them. What then? We are not alarmed because Satan hindereth us, for it is a proof that we are on the Lord’s side, and are doing the Lord’s work, and in his strength we shall win the victory, and triumph over our adversary.

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FAITH VERSES SIGHT

Faith versus sight

ACTS 16:16-40

ACTS 16:16-40

‘For we walk by faith, not by sight.’ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 31:10–31

In Scripture we often read of men who, by faith, did great exploits. ‘By thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.’ Now, this is a very great thing to do; and some Christians are always fixing their eyes upon exploits of faith. The apostle Paul did cut through troops and leap over walls, but in this place he speaks of the common actions of life. It is as if he said, ‘I not only leap walls by faith, but I walk by faith; I not only break through troops by faith, but I go and do my business by faith.’ That man has not yet learned the true spirit of Christianity who is always saying, ‘I can preach a sermon by faith.’ Yes, sir, but can you make a coat by faith? ‘I can distribute tracts, and visit the district by faith.’ Can you cook a dinner by faith? I mean, can you perform the common actions of the household, and the daily duties which fall to your lot, in the spirit of faith? This is what the apostle means. He does not speak about running, or jumping, or fighting, but about walking; and he means to tell you that the ordinary life of a Christian is different from the life of another man; that he has learned to introduce faith into everything he does. It was not a bad saying of one who said that he ‘did eat and drink, and sleep eternal life.’ We want not a home-spun religion, but a religion that was spun in heaven, and that will do to wear at home and about the house. ‘We walk by faith.’ The Muslim worships at the ‘holy hour;’ the true Christian calls all hours ‘holy’ and worships God always.

For meditation: Do you regard your Christian faith and worship as being just a matter of Sunday services and church activities? True faith should extend to what we eat, drink and wear (Matthew 6:25,30–31) and true worship should include the manner in which we eat, drink and do anything else (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Sermon no. 677   8 August (Undated Sermon)

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Behold he hath set before us an open door

Morning

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.  Psalm 118:8

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
Psalm 118:8

“I in them.”
John 17:23

If such be the union which subsists between our souls and the person of our Lord, how deep and broad is the channel of our communion! This is no narrow pipe through which a thread-like stream may wind its way, it is a channel of amazing depth and breadth, along whose glorious length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its floods. Behold he hath set before us an open door, let us not be slow to enter. This city of communion hath many pearly gates, every several gate is of one pearl, and each gate is thrown open to the uttermost that we may enter, assured of welcome. If there were but one small loophole through which to talk with Jesus, it would be a high privilege to thrust a word of fellowship through the narrow door; how much we are blessed in having so large an entrance! Had the Lord Jesus been far away from us, with many a stormy sea between, we should have longed to send a messenger to him to carry him our loves, and bring us tidings from his Father’s house; but see his kindness, he has built his house next door to ours, nay, more, he takes lodging with us, and tabernacles in poor humble hearts, that so he may have perpetual intercourse with us. O how foolish must we be, if we do not live in habitual communion with him. When the road is long, and dangerous, and difficult, we need not wonder that friends seldom meet each other, but when they live together, shall Jonathan forget his David? A wife may when her husband is upon a journey, abide many days without holding converse with him, but she could never endure to be separated from him if she knew him to be in one of the chambers of her own house. Why, believer, dost not thou sit at his banquet of wine? Seek thy Lord, for he is near; embrace him, for he is thy Brother. Hold Him fast, for he is thine Husband; and press him to thine heart, for he is of thine own flesh.

Evening

MATTHEW 4:19

MATTHEW 4:19

“And these are the singers … they were employed in that work day and night.”
1 Chronicles 9:33

Well was it so ordered in the temple that the sacred chant never ceased: for evermore did the singers praise the Lord, whose mercy endureth forever. As mercy did not cease to rule either by day or by night, so neither did music hush its holy ministry. My heart, there is a lesson sweetly taught to thee in the ceaseless song of Zion’s temple, thou too art a constant debtor, and see thou to it that thy gratitude, like charity, never faileth. God’s praise is constant in heaven, which is to be thy final dwelling-place, learn thou to practise the eternal hallelujah. Around the earth as the sun scatters his light, his beams awaken grateful believers to tune their morning hymn, so that by the priesthood of the saints perpetual praise is kept up at all hours, they swathe our globe in a mantle of thanksgiving, and girdle it with a golden belt of song.

The Lord always deserves to be praised for what he is in himself, for his works of creation and providence, for his goodness towards his creatures, and especially for the transcendent act of redemption, and all the marvellous blessing flowing therefrom. It is always beneficial to praise the Lord; it cheers the day and brightens the night; it lightens toil and softens sorrow; and over earthly gladness it sheds a sanctifying radiance which makes it less liable to blind us with its glare. Have we not something to sing about at this moment? Can we not weave a song out of our present joys, or our past deliverances, or our future hopes? Earth yields her summer fruits: the hay is housed, the golden grain invites the sickle, and the sun tarrying long to shine upon a fruitful earth, shortens the interval of shade that we may lengthen the hours of devout worship. By the love of Jesus, let us be stirred up to close the day with a psalm of sanctified gladness.

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