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Title: My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
Author: Jowett, John Henry
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year" ***

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CIRCLING YEAR***


Transcriber's Note:

   In the "April 15" meditation, the author mentions reading from
   Tennyson's "Palace of Sin", which doesn't appear to exist.
   Possibly "Vision of Sin" was meant?



DAILY MEDITATION

  "_The greatest living master of the homiletic art._"
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MY DAILY MEDITATION FOR THE CIRCLING YEAR

by

JOHN HENRY JOWETT



New York    Chicago
Fleming H. Revell Company

Copyright, 1914, by
Fleming H. Revell Company
New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 125 N. Wabash Ave.
Toronto: 25 Richmond St., W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street



FOREWORD


The title of this book sufficiently interprets its purpose. I hope it may
lead to such practical meditation upon the Word of God as will supply
vision to common tasks, and daily nourishment to the conscience and
will. And I trust that it may so engage the thoughts upon the wonders of
meditation, as will fortify the soul for its high calling in Jesus Christ
our Lord.

                                       J. H. JOWETT.

   Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church,
              New York.



JANUARY The First

_THE UNKNOWN JOURNEY_

"_He went out not knowing whither he went._"
     --HEBREWS xi. 6-10.


Abram began his journey without any knowledge of his ultimate destination.
He obeyed a noble impulse without any discernment of its consequences. He
took "one step," and he did not "ask to see the distant scene." And that
is faith, to do God's will here and now, quietly leaving the results to
Him. Faith is not concerned with the entire chain; its devoted attention
is fixed upon the immediate link. Faith is not knowledge of a moral
process; it is fidelity in a moral act. Faith leaves something to the
Lord; it obeys His immediate commandment and leaves to Him direction and
destiny.

And so faith is accompanied by serenity. "He that believeth shall not make
haste"--or, more literally, "shall not get into a fuss." He shall not get
into a panic, neither fetching fears from his yesterdays nor from his
to-morrows. Concerning his yesterdays faith says, "Thou hast beset me
behind." Concerning his to-morrows faith says, "Thou hast beset me
before." Concerning his to-day faith says, "Thou hast laid Thine hand
upon me." That is enough, just to feel the pressure of the guiding hand.



JANUARY The Second

_THE LARGER OUTLOOK_

GENESIS xv. 5-18.


"And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven!" The
tent was changed for the sky! Abraham sat moodily in his tent: God brought
him forth beneath the stars. And that is always the line of the Divine
leading. He brings us forth out of our small imprisonments and He sets our
feet in a large place. He desires for us height and breadth of view. For
"as the heavens are high above the earth" so are His thoughts higher than
our thoughts, and His ways than our ways. He wishes us, I say, to exchange
the tent for the sky, and to live and move in great, spacious thoughts of
His purposes and will.

How is it with our love? Is it a thing of the tent or of the sky? Does it
range over mighty spaces seeking benedictions for a multitude? Or does it
dwell in selfish seclusion, imprisoned in merely selfish quest? How is it
with our prayers? How big are they? Will a tent contain them, or do they
move with the scope and greatness of the heavens? Do they just contain our
own families, or is China in them, and India, and "the uttermost parts of
the earth"? "Look now towards the heavens!" Such must be our outlook if we
are the companions of God.



JANUARY The Third

_THE NEVER-FAILING SPRINGS_

GENESIS xvii. 1-8.


"I will establish My covenant." The good promises of God are never
revoked. They are like springs which know no shrinking in times of
drought. Nay, in time of drought they reveal a richer fulness. The
promises are confirmed in the hour of my need, and the greater my need the
greater is my bounty. And so it was that the Apostle Paul came to "rejoice
in his infirmities," for through his infirmities he discovered the riches
of Divine grace. He brought a bigger pitcher to the fountain, and he
always carried it away full. "As thy days so shall thy strength be."

So I need never fear that the promise of yesterday will exhaust itself
before to-morrow. God's covenant goes with us like the ever-fresh waters
of the wilderness. "They drank of that rock which followed them, and that
rock was Christ." Every fulfilment of God's promise is the pledge of one
to come.

God has no road without its springs. If His path stretches across the
waste wilderness the "fountains shall break out in the desert," and "the
wilderness shall rejoice and blossom as the rose."



JANUARY The Fourth

_THE GOD OF THEIR SUCCEEDING RACE_

EXODUS vi. 2-8.


"I appeared unto Abraham.... I will be to you a God." The covenant made
with the father was renewed to the children. The father's death did not
disannul the promise of the Lord. Death has no power in the realms of
grace. His moth and his rust can never destroy the ministries of Divine
love. Abraham died and was laid to rest, but the river of life flowed on,
and the bounties of the Lord never failed. The village well quenches the
thirst of many generations: and so is it through the generations with the
wells of grace and salvation. The villagers have not to dig a new well
when the patriarch dies: "the river of God is full of water."

And thus I am privileged to share the spiritual resources of Abraham, and
the still richer resources of the Apostle Paul. Nothing was given to him
that is withheld from me. He is like a great mountaineer, and he has
climbed to lofty heights; but I need not be dismayed. All the strength
that was given to him, in which he reached those lofty places, is mine
also. I may share his elevation and his triumph. "For the promise is
unto you and your children, and to all that are afar off."



JANUARY The Fifth

_THE FLOWERS THAT NEVER FADE_

1 PETER i. 1-9.


"An inheritance incorruptible." I am writing these words in the Island
of Arran. To-morrow I shall leave the land behind, but I shall take the
landscape with me! It will be with me in the coming winter, and I shall
gaze upon Goat Fell in the streets of New York. The land is a temporary
possession, the landscape abides!

The praise of men often dies with the shout that proclaims it. Another
idol appears and the feverish worship is transferred to him. The world's
garland begins to fade as soon as it is laid upon the brow. The morning
after the coronation I possess a handful of withering leaves. But the
garland of God's praise acquires new grace and beauty with the years. It
is never so fresh and flourishing as just when everything else is fading
away. It is glorious in the hour of death! The soul goes, wearing her
garland, into the presence of the gracious Lord who gave it.

We can begin even now to wear the flowers of Paradise. We can begin even
now to furnish our minds with lovely thoughts and memories. We can have
"the mind of Christ."



JANUARY The Sixth

"_COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS_"

PSALM cv. 1-15.


"Count your blessings!" Yes, but over what area shall I look for them?
There is my personal life. Let me search in every corner. I have found
forget-me-nots on many a rutty road. I have found wild-roses behind a
barricade of nettles. Professor Miall has a lecture on "The Botany of a
Railway Station." He found something graceful and exquisite in the midst
of its soot and grime. So I must look even in the dark patches of life,
among my disappointments and defeats, and even there I shall find tokens
of the Lord's presence, some flowers of His planting.

And there is my share in the life of the nation. "Ye seed of Abraham His
servant, ye children of Jacob His chosen." There are hands that stretch
out to me from past days, laden with bequests of privilege and freedom.
Our feet "stand in a large place," and the place was cleared by the
fidelity and the courage of the men of old. I have countless blessings
that were bought with blood. The red marks of sacrifice are over all my
daily ways. Let me not take the inheritance and overlook the blood marks,
and stride about as though it were nought but common ground. Mercies
abound on every hand! "Count your blessings!"



JANUARY The Seventh

_A JOURNAL OF MERCIES_

NEHEMIAH ix. 6-11.


"Thou hast performed Thy words: for Thou art righteous." Frances Ridley
Havergal kept a journal of mercies. She had a record book, and she crowded
it with her remembrances of God's goodness. She was always on the look-out
for tokens of the Lord's grace and bounty, and she found them everywhere.
Everywhere she had communion with a covenant-keeping God. The Bible became
to her more and more the history of her own life and experience. Promise
after promise told the story of her own triumphs. She appropriated the
goodness of God, and she set her own seal to the testimony that God is
true.

Many a complaining life would be changed into music and song by a journal
of mercies. Many a fear can be dispersed by a ready remembrance. Memory
can be made the handmaid of hope. Yesterday's blessing can kindle the
courage of to-day. That is the purposed ministry of "the days that have
been." We are to harness the strength of their experiences to the tasks
and burdens of to-day; and in the remembrance of God's providences we
shall march through our difficulties with singing.



JANUARY The Eighth

_HE IS FAITHFUL!_

1 KINGS viii. 54-61.


"There hath not failed one word of all His good promise." Supposing one
word had failed, how then? If one golden promise had turned out to be
counterfeit, how then? If the ground had yielded anywhere we should
have been fearful and suspicious at every part of the road. If the bell
of God's fidelity had been broken anywhere the music would have been
destroyed. But not one word has failed. The road has never given way in
time of flood. Every bell of heaven is perfectly sound, and the music is
full and glorious. "God is faithful, who also will do it."

"God is love," and "love never faileth." The lamp will not die out
at the midnight. The fountain will not fail us in the wilderness. The
consolations will not be wanting in the hour of our distresses. Love will
have "all things ready." "He has promised, and shall He not do it?" All
the powers of heaven are pledged to the fulfilment of the smallest word of
grace. We can never be deserted! "God cannot deny Himself." Every word of
His will unburden its treasure at the appointed hour, and I shall be rich
with the strength of my God.



JANUARY The Ninth

_THE PERILS OF POSSESSIONS_

GENESIS xiii. 1-9.


There is nothing more divisive than wealth. As families grow rich their
members frequently become alienated. It is rarely, indeed, that love
increases with the increase of riches. Luxurious possessions appear to be
a forcing-bed in which the seeds of sleeping vices waken into strength.
For one thing, selfishness is often quickened with success. Plenty, as
well as penury, can "freeze the genial currents of the soul." And with
selfishness comes a whole brood of mean and petty dispositions. Envy comes
with it, and jealousy, and a morbid sensitiveness which readily leaps into
strife.

So do our possessions multiply our temptations. So does the bright day
"bring forth the adder." So do we need extra defences when "fortune smiles
upon us." But our God can make us proof against "the fiery darts" of
success. Abram remained unscathed in "the garish day." The Lord delivered
him from "the destruction that wasteth at noonday." His wealth increased,
but it was not allowed to force itself between his soul and God. In the
midst of all his prosperity, he dwelt in "the secret place of the Most
High," and he abode in "the shadow of the Almighty."



JANUARY The Tenth

_THE LUST OF THE EYE_

GENESIS xiii. 10-18.


Look at Lot. He was a man of the world, sharp as a needle, having an eye
to the main chance. He boasted to himself that he always "took in the
whole situation." He said that what he did not know was not worth knowing.
But such "knowing" men have always very imperfect sight. Lot saw "all the
well-watered plain of Jordan," but he overlooked the city of Sodom and its
exceedingly wicked and sinful people. And the thing he overlooked was the
biggest thing in the outlook! It was to prove his undoing, and to bring
his presumptuous selfishness to the ground.

Look at Abram. His spirit was cool and thoughtful, unheated by the
feverish yearning after increased possessions. He had a "quiet eye," the
fruit of his faithful communion with God. He was more intent on peace than
plenty. He preferred fraternal fellowship to selfish increase. And so he
chose the unselfish way, and along that way he discovered the blessing of
God. "The Lord is mindful of His own. He remembereth His children." In the
unselfish way we always enjoy the Divine companionship, and in that
companionship we are endowed with inconceivable wealth.



JANUARY The Eleventh

_SELF-MADE OR GOD-MADE_

MATTHEW vi. 26-33.


Think of Lot and then think of a lily of the field! Think of the
feverishness of the one and of the serenity of the other, or think of the
ugly selfishness of the one, and of the graceful beauty of the other! Look
upon avarice at its worst, upon a Shylock, and then gaze upon a lily of
the field! How alarming is the contrast! The one is self-made, guided by
vicious impulses; the other is the handiwork of God. The one is rooted in
self-will; the other is rooted in the power of the Divine grace. God has
nothing to do with the one; He has everything to do with the other. So one
becomes "big" and ugly; the other grows in strength and beauty.

Now the wonder is this, that we, too, may be rooted in the power from
which the lily draws its grace. We may draw into our souls the wealth of
the Eternal, even the unsearchable riches of Christ. We may put on "the
beauty of holiness." We may become clothed in the graces of the Spirit.
When we are in the field of the lilies we may appear unto the Lord as
kindred flowers of His own garden.

"He that abideth in Me and I in him the same bringeth forth much fruit."
"Rooted in Him," we shall "grow up in all things unto Him."



JANUARY The Twelfth

_TWO OPPOSITES_

"If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
     --1 JOHN ii. 13-17.


No man can love two opposites any more than he can walk in contrary
directions at the same time. No man can at once be mean and magnanimous,
chivalrous and selfish. We cannot at the same moment dress appropriately
for the arctic regions and the tropics. And we cannot wear the habits of
the world and the garments of salvation. When we try to do it the result
is a wretched and miserable compromise. I have seen a shopkeeper on the
Sabbath day put up one shutter, out of presumed respect for the Holy Lord,
and behind the shutter continue all the business of the world! That one
shutter is typical of all the religion that is left when a man "loves the
world" and delights in its prizes and crowns. His religion is a bit of
idle ritual which is an offence unto God!

So I must make my choice. Shall I travel north or south? Which of the two
opposites shall I love--God or the world? Whichever love I choose will
drive out and quench the other. And thus if I choose the love of God it
will destroy every worldly passion, and the river of my affections and
desires will be like "the river of water of life, clear as crystal."



JANUARY The Thirteenth

_THE MIRACLE IN A DRY PLACE_

PSALM cvii. 33-43.


"He turneth ... the dry ground into water-springs." This is one of the
miracles of grace. The good Lord makes a dry experience the fountain of
blessing. I pass into an apparently waste place and I find riches of
consolation. Even in "the valley of the shadow" I come upon "green
pastures" and "still waters." I find flowers in the ruts of the hardest
roads if I am in "the way of God's commandments." God's providence is the
pioneer of every faithful pilgrim. "His blessed feet have gone before."
What I shall need is already foreseen, and foresight with the Lord means
forethought and provision. Every hour gives the loyal disciples surprises
of grace.

Let me therefore not fear when the path of duty turns into the wilderness.
The wilderness is as habitable with God as the crowded city, and in His
fellowship my bread and water are sure. The Lord has strange manna for the
children of disappointment, and He makes water to "gush forth from the
rock." Duty can lead me nowhere without Him, and His provision is abundant
both in "the thirsty desert and the dewy mead." There will be a spring at
the foot of every hill, and I shall find "lilies of peace" in the lonely
valley of humiliation.



JANUARY The Fourteenth

_FORGETTING GOD_

DEUTERONOMY viii. 11-20.


"Beware ... lest when thou hast eaten and art full ... thine heart be
lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God." I was in a little cottage
near Warwick. I said to the good man who lived in it, "Can you see the
castle?" and he replied, "We can see it best in the winter when the leaves
are off the trees. In the summer time it is apt to be hid!" The summer
bounty hid the castle; the winter barrenness revealed it! And so it is in
life. In the season of fulness we are prone to be blind to "the house of
many mansions," and we forget the Master of the house, the Lord our God.
Our material wealth hides our eternal treasure.

What, then, shall we do in the days of our prosperity, when all our trees
are in full leaf? We must pray that material things may never become
opaque, that they may be always transparent, so that through the seen we
may behold the unseen. This is a gift of the Spirit, and it may be ours.
He will anoint our eyes with the eye-salve of grace, and everything will
become to us a symbol of something better, so that even in the midst of
material plenty our hearts will be with our treasure in heaven. Everything
will be to us "as it were transparent glass."



JANUARY The Fifteenth

_THE MINISTRY OF PRAISE_

PSALM cxv.


"The Lord hath been mindful of us: He will bless us." In that joyful
assurance there is both retrospect and prospect. There is the trodden
pathway of Providence, and there is the star of hope! The eyes are
steadied and refreshed in sacred memories, and then they gaze into the
future with serene and happy confidence. And so the Ebenezer of the soul
becomes both a thanksgiving and a reconsecration.

Now perhaps our hopes are thin because our praises are scanty. Perhaps our
expectations are clouded because our memories are dim. There is nothing so
quickens hope as a journey among the mercies of our yesterdays. The heart
lays aside its fears amid the accumulated blessings of our God. Worries
pass away like cloudlets in the warmth of a summer's morning. And the
recollections of God's goodness always make summer even in the wintriest
day.

Now I see why the New Testament is so urgent in the matter of praise.
Without praise many other virtues and graces cannot be born. Without
praise they have no breath of life. Praise quickens a radiant company
of heavenly presences, and among them is the shining spirit of hope.



JANUARY The Sixteenth

_THE DISTINCTION OF BEING RECOGNIZED_

JOHN x. 1-18.


The Good Shepherd knows His sheep, and knows them by name. And that is
what I am tempted to forget. I think of myself as one of an innumerable
multitude, no one of whom receives personal attention. "My way is
overlooked by my God." But here is the evangel--the Saviour would
miss me, even me!

At a great orchestral rehearsal, which Sir Michael Costa was conducting,
the man who played the piccolo stayed his fingers for a moment, thinking
that his trifling contribution would never be missed. At once Sir Michael
raised his hand, and said: "Stop! Where's the piccolo?" He missed the
individual note. And my Lord needs the note of my life to make the music
of His Kingdom, and if the note be absent He will miss it, and the
glorious music will be broken and incomplete.

There is a common vice of self-conceit, but there is also a common vice of
excessive self-depreciation. "My Lord can do nothing with me!" Yes, my
Lord knows thee and needs thee! And by the power of His grace thou canst
accomplish wonders!



JANUARY The Seventeenth

_SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT_

"_My sheep hear My voice!_"
     --JOHN x. 19-30.


This is spiritual discernment. We may test our growth in grace by our
expertness in detecting the voice of our Lord. It is the skill of the
saint to catch "the still small voice" amid all the selfish clamours of
the day, and amid the far more subtle callings of the heart. It needs a
good ear to catch the voice of the Lord in our sorrows. I think it
requires a better ear to discern the voice amid our joys! The twilight
helps me to be serious; the noonday glare tends to make me heedless.

"_And they follow Me!_" Discernment is succeeded by obedience. That is the
one condition of becoming a saint--to follow the immediate call of the
Lord. And it is the one condition of becoming an expert listener. Every
time I hear the voice, and follow, I sharpen my sense of hearing, and the
next time the voice will sound more clear.

"_And I give unto them eternal life._" Yes, life is found in the ways of
a listening obedience. Every faculty and function will be vitalized when I
follow the Lord of life and glory. "In Christ shall all be made alive."

My Saviour, graciously give me the listening ear! Give me the obedient
heart.



JANUARY the Eighteenth

_FALSE SHEPHERDS_

EZEKIEL xxxiv. 1-10.


This word of the Lord puts before me the unlovely lineaments of the false
shepherds.

They are self-seeking. They "_feed themselves_," but they "_feed not
the flock_." They take up religion for what they can make out of it! It
is a carnal ambition, not a holy service. It is used for getting, not for
giving, for self-glorification and not for self-sacrifice. It is
selfishness masquerading as holiness, the thief in the garb of the
shepherd.

And, therefore, the false shepherds are devoid of sympathy. "_The diseased
have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick._"
Selfishness always tends to benumbment. Humaneness is fostered by
sacrifice. Our sympathetic chords are kept refined by chivalrous deeds.
Drop the deeds and all our refinements begin to coarsen, and we make no
response to our brother's cries of need and pain.

And because there is no sympathy there is no quest. "_My sheep wandered
... and none did seek after them._" How can we seek them if we have never
missed them, if we have no sense that they are lost? Our Lord came in
travail of soul to "seek that which was lost." And I must share His
travail if I would share in the search.



JANUARY The Nineteenth

_THE LOST SHEEP_

EZEKIEL xxxiv. 11-19.


And now, again, I am bidden to contemplate the gracious ministries of the
Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd searches the "far country" for His lost sheep. "_I will
bring them ... out of all places where they have been scattered._" He goes
into the hard wilderness of cold indifference, and wasteful pride, and
desolating sin, searching "high and low" for His foolish sheep. And no
place is unvisited by the Great Seeker! Every perilous ravine, where a
sheep can be lost, knows the footprints of the Shepherd. And He knows my
far-country, and He is seeking me!

And the Good Shepherd brings His wandering sheep back home. "_I will bring
them ... to their own land._" We return from the land of pride to the home
of lowliness, from hard indifference to gracious sympathy, from the
barrenness of sin to the beauty of holiness. We come back to God's
beautiful "lily-land" of eternal light and peace.

And what nutriment the Good Shepherd provides for the home-coming sheep!
"_I will feed them in a good pasture._" Our wasted powers shall be renewed
and strengthened by the fattening diet of grace. Love shall be both host
and meat! "He will satisfy thy mouth with good things."



JANUARY The Twentieth

_THE PASSING OF THE BEAST_

EZEKIEL xxxiv. 23-31.


When the Good Shepherd has charge of His flock "_the wild beasts will
cease out of the land_." All beastly passions shall be destroyed. The fair
gardens of our souls shall no longer be ravaged by sleek pride, or fierce
appetite, or ravenous lust. "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet."

And the forces of nature shall be in friendly co-operation. "_I will cause
the shower to come down in his season._" We are to have mystic allies in
sky and field. Nature sides with the man who sides with God. Our very
garden becomes our helpmeet when we are cultivating the fruits of the
Spirit. The heavens assume a friendly aspect when we are "marching to
beautiful Zion." But when we are against the Lord all these forces appear
to be hostile. "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera."

And we are to have a joyful assurance of the companionship of our God.
"_This shall they know, that I, the Lord their God, am with them._" And
in that precious assurance every other treasure is found! Only be sure of
that, and we shall walk about as kings and queens!



JANUARY the Twenty-first

_THE VALUE OF ONE SOUL_

MATTHEW xviii. 7-14.


What an infinite value the Lord attaches to one soul! "And _one of them_
be gone astray!" I thought He might never have missed the one! And yet the
Eastern shepherd says that out of his great flock he can miss the
individual face. A face is missing, as though a child were absent from the
family circle. When a soul is wandering in the far country there is an
awful gap in the Father's house! Is thy place empty? Is mine?

And mark the pangs of the Shepherd's quest. He "_goeth into the mountain
and seeketh!_" The Eastern shepherd goes out in tempest, and in rocky
ravine, or in thorny scrub that tears the hands and feet, he seeks and
finds his sheep. And my Lord sought me, in stony and thorny places, in the
darkness of Gethsemane, and in the awful desolations of The Hill.

And the Shepherd found His sheep, and He returns across the hills singing
the song of the triumph of grace--

    "And up from the mountains, thunder-riven,
      And up from the rocky steep,
     A cry arose to the gates of heaven,
      'Rejoice! I have found My sheep!'
     And the angels echo around the throne,
     'Rejoice! for the Lord brings back His own!'"



JANUARY The Twenty-second

_MY OWN SHEPHERD_

PSALM xxiii.


How shall we touch this lovely psalm and not bruise it? It is exquisite as
"a violet by a mossy stone!" Exposition is almost an impertinence, its
grace is so simple and winsome.

There is the ministry of rest. "_He maketh me to lie down in green
pastures._" The Good Shepherd knows when my spirit needs relaxation. He
will not have me always "on the stretch." The bow of the best violin
sometimes requires to have its strings "let down." And so my Lord gives me
rest.

And there is the discipline of change. "_He leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness._" Those strange roads in life, unknown roads, by which I
pass into changed circumstances and surroundings! But the discipline of
the change is only to bring me into new pastures, that I may gain fresh
nutriment for my soul. "Because they have no changes they fear not God."

And there is "_the valley of the shadow_," cold and bare! What matter? He
is there! "I will fear no evil." What if I see "no pastures green"? "Thy
rod and Thy staff they comfort me!" The Lord, who is leading, will see
after my food. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine
enemies." I have a quiet feast while my foes are looking on!



JANUARY The Twenty-third

_THE GIVER'S HAND_

GENESIS iv. 3-15.


Cain and Abel both brought an offering unto the Lord, but one was accepted
and the other rejected. It is the giver who determines the worth or the
worthlessness of the gift. God looks not at the gift, but at the hand that
brings it. "Your hands are full of blood!" "Your hands are unclean!" The
Lord demands "clean hands." He will not have our compliments if there is
defilement behind them. Our courtesies are rejected if iniquity attends
them. The shining gloss on the linen is an offence if the dirt looks
through! Who cares for food if presented by unclean hands? "Be ye clean,
ye that bear the vessels of the Lord!"

Every gift is welcome to the Lord if offered with clean hands. A mite, or
a cup of cold water, or our daily labour, or the first-fruits of garden or
field--all receive the blessing of our God if the hands that bring them
are free from defilement. So is it with everything we offer to the Lord. A
song of praise makes sweet music in the hearing of our God if it come from
pure lips! Purity, as Thomas a' Kempis says, gives the wings which carry
everything into the Father's presence.



JANUARY The Twenty-fourth

_THE VOICE OF THE DEAD_

HEBREWS xi. 1-6.


With what voice shall we speak when we are dead? What will men hear when
they turn their thoughts toward us? What part of us will remain alive,
singing or jarring in men's remembrance? It is the biggest part of us that
retains its voice. In some it is wealth, in others it is goodness; some
go on speaking in their cruelty, others in their gentleness. Cain still
speaks in his jealous passion. Abel speaks in his faith. Dorcas speaks in
her "good works and alms-deeds which she did"; Judas Iscariot speaks in
his betrayal. Yes, something goes on speaking. What shall it be?

But these biggest things not only continue to speak in the ears of memory,
they persist as actual forces in the common life of men. Our faith is not
buried with our bones, nor is our avarice or pride. Our characters do not
die when our hearts cease to beat. "The evil that men do lives after
them," and so does the good. But deeper than our deeds, our dominant
dispositions persist and mingle as friends or enemies in the lives of
others. By them we, being dead, still speak, and we speak in subtle forces
which aid or hinder other pilgrims who are fighting their way to God and
heaven.



JANUARY The Twenty-fifth

_FIRST, MY BROTHER!_

MATTHEW v. 17-24.


"First be reconciled to thy brother." We are to put first things first.
When we bring a gift unto the Lord He looks at the hand that brings it. If
the hand is defiled the gift is rejected. "Wash you, make you clean."
"First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

All this tells us why some resplendent gifts are rejected, and why some
commonplace gifts are received amid heavenly song. This is why the widow's
mite goes shining through the years. The hand that offered it was hallowed
and purified with sacrifice. Shall we say that in that palm there was
something akin to the pierced hands of the Lord? The mite had intimate
associations with the Cross.

And it also tells me why so much of our public worship is offensive to our
Lord. We come to the church from a broken friendship. Some holy thing has
been broken on the way. Someone's estate has been invaded, and his
treasure spoiled. Someone has been wronged, and God will not touch our
gift. "Leave there thy gift; first be reconciled to thy brother."



JANUARY The Twenty-sixth

_THE FIRE OF ENVY_

"_Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work!_"
     --JAMES iii. 13-18.


In Milton's "Comus" we read of a certain potion which has the power to
pervert all the senses of everyone who drinks it. Nothing is apprehended
truly. Sight and hearing and taste are all disordered, and the victim is
all unconscious of the confusion. The deadly draught is the minister of
deceptive chaos.

And envy is like that potion when it is drunk by the spirit. It perverts
every moral and spiritual sense. The envious is more fatally stricken than
the blind. He gazes upon untruth and thinks it true. He looks upon
confusion and thinks it order. Envy is colour-blind. It is like jealousy,
of which it is a blood-relation. It never sees anything in its natural
hues. It misinterprets everything.

No one can quench the unholy fire of envy but the mighty God Himself. It
is like a prairie fire: once kindled it is beyond our power to stamp it
out. But God's coolness is more than a match for all our feverish heat.
His quenchings are transformations. He converts the perverted and changes
envy into goodwill. The bitter pool is made sweet. For confusion He gives
order, for ashes He gives beauty, and in the face of an old enemy we see
the countenance of a friend.



JANUARY The Twenty-seventh

_THE CONFESSION OF SIN_

"_I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me._"
     --PSALM li. 1-12.


Sin that is unconfessed shuts out the energies of grace. Confession makes
the soul receptive of the bountiful waters of life. We open the door to
God as soon as we name our sin. Guilt that is penitently confessed is
already in the "consuming fire" of God's love. When I "acknowledge my sin"
I begin to enter into the knowledge of "pardon, joy, and peace." But if I
hide my sin I also hide myself from "the unsearchable riches of Christ."
"If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

I must then make confession of sin in my daily exercises in the presence
of the Lord. I am taking the way to recovered victory when I tell the Lord
the story of my defeat. Satan strengthens his awful chains when he can
induce me to keep silence concerning my sin. All his plans are thrown into
confusion as soon as I "pour out my soul before the Lord." When I fall let
me not add to my guilt the further sin of secrecy. Unconfessed sin breeds
in its lurking-place and multiplies its hateful offspring. The soul that
makes confession is washed through and through, and the seeds of iniquity
are driven out of my soul.



JANUARY The Twenty-eighth

_CLEAN AND UNCLEAN ANGER_

EPHESIANS iv. 25-32.


"Let all anger be put away from you." And yet only a moment ago the
Apostle had written the words, "Be ye angry and sin not." My power of
anger is not to be destroyed, it is to be transformed and purified. Anger
can be like an unclean bonfire; it can also be like "a sea of glass
mingled with fire." There can be more smoke than light in it, more selfish
passion than holy purpose. The fuel that feeds it may be envy, and
jealousy, and spite, and not a big desire for the good of men and the
glory of God. Worldly anger "is set on fire of hell"; holy anger borrows
flame from the altar-fires of God.

Our anger reveals our character. What is the quality of our anger? What
kindles it? Is it incited by our own wrongs or by the wrongs of another?
Is it set on fire by self-indulgence or by a noble sympathy? Here is a
sentence which describes the anger of the Apostle Paul: "Who is made to
stumble and I burn not?" Paul's holy anger was made to burn by oppression,
by the cruelty inflicted upon his fellow-men. His fire had nothing unclean
in it; it was pure as the flame of oxygen.

This is the anger we must cherish. We cannot "work ourselves up" into it.
We must seek to be "baptized with the Holy Ghost _and with fire_."



JANUARY The Twenty-ninth

_NOBLE REVENGE_

"_I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy._"
--PSALM vii. 4.


That is the noblest revenge, and in those moments David had intimate
knowledge of the spirit of his Lord. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him!"

_Evil for good is devil-like._ To receive a favour and to return a blow!
To obtain the gift of language, and then to use one's speech to curse the
giver! To use a sacred sword is unholy warfare! All this is devil-like.

_Evil for evil is beast-like._ Yes, the dog bites back when it is bitten.
The dog returns snarl for snarl, venom for venom. And if, when I have been
injured, I "pay a man back in his own coin," if I "give him as good as he
gave," I am living on the plane of the beast.

_Good for good is man-like._ When I requite a man's kindness by kindness!
When I send presents to one who loads me with benefits! This is a true and
manly thing to do, and lifts us far above the beast.

_Good for evil is God-like._ Yes, that lifts me into "the heavenly places
in Christ Jesus." Then I have "the mind of Christ." Then do I unto others
as my Saviour has done unto me.



JANUARY The Thirtieth

_IRRESISTIBLE ARTILLERY_

"_When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies turn back._"
--PSALM lvi.


But it must be a real "cry"! It must not be an idle recitation which sheds
no blood. It must be a cry like the cry of the drowning, a cry which
cleaves the air like a bullet. Said a man to me some while ago, "Assault
the heavens with cries for me!" That is the cry which takes the kingdom by
storm.

When such a cry rends the heavens, "my enemies turn back." A secret and
irresistible artillery begins to play upon them, and their strength fails.
Yes, believing prayer calls these invisible allies into the field. "The
mountains are full of horses and chariots of fire round about!" And the
enemy flies!

"_This I know._" The psalmist is building upon experience. The miracle
has happened a hundred times. Many a morning has he seen the enemy
vaingloriously tramping the field, and he has cried unto the Lord, and
before nightfall there has been a perfect rout. Blessed is the man who has
had such heartening dealings with the Lord that he can now face a hostile
host in unclouded faith and assurance!



JANUARY The Thirty-first

_UNDER HIS WINGS_

"_In the shadow of Thy wings will I make my refuge._"
--PSALM lvii.


Could anything be more tenderly gracious than this figure of hiding under
the shadow of God's wings? It speaks of bosom-warmth, and bosom-shelter,
and bosom-rest. "Let me to Thy bosom fly!"

And what strong wings they are! Under those wings I am secure even from
the lions. My animal passions shall not hurt me when I am "hiding in God."
The fiercest onslaughts of the devil are powerless to break those mighty
wings. The tenderest little chick, "one of these little ones," nestling
behind this soft and gentle shelter, shall be perfectly secure; "none of
its bones shall be broken."

I do not wonder that this sheltering psalmist begins to sing! "_I will
sing and give praise!_" I have often listened to the sheltering chicks,
hiding behind the mother's wings, and I have heard that quaint,
comfortable, contented sound for which our language has no name. It is a
sound of incipient song, the musical murmur of satisfaction. "I will sing
unto Thee ... for Thy mercy is great."



FEBRUARY The First

_THE SOUL IN PRISON_

"_Bring my soul out of prison!_"
--PSALM cxlii.


I too, have my prison-house, and only the Lord can deliver me.

There is _the prison-house of sin_. It is a dark and suffocating
hole, without friendly light or morning air. And it is haunted by such
affrighting shapes, as though my iniquities had incarnated themselves in
ugly and repulsive forms. None but the Lord can bring me out.

And there is _the prison-house of sorrow_. My griefs sometimes wrap me
about like cold confining walls, which have neither windows nor doors. It
seems as though a fluid sorrow can congeal into a cold, hard temperament,
and hold me in its icy embrace. And none but the Lord can bring me out.

And there is _the prison-house of death_. I must perforce pass through the
gate of death. Shall I find it a castle of gloom, or is there another gate
through which I shall emerge into the fair, sweet paradise of God? My
Master is Lord of the road! And He tells me that death shall not be a
castle of captivity, but only a thoroughfare through which I shall pass
into the realm of eternal day.



FEBRUARY The Second

_HOW TO APPROACH A CRISIS_

"_It shall be given you in that same hour._"
--MATTHEW x. 16-28.


And so I am not to worry about the coming crisis! "God never is before His
time, and never is behind!" When the hour is come, I shall find that the
great Host hath made "all things ready."

When the crisis comes _He will tell me how to rest_. It is a great matter
to know just how to rest--how to be quiet when "all without tumultuous
seems." We irritate and excite our souls about the coming emergency, and
we approach it with worn and feverish spirits, and so mar our Master's
purpose and work.

When the crisis comes _He will tell me what to do_. The orders are not
given until the appointed day. Why should I fume and fret and worry as to
what the sealed envelope contains? "It is enough that He knows all," and
when the hour strikes the secrets shall be revealed.

And when the crisis comes _He will tell me what to say_. I need not begin
to prepare my retorts and my responses. What shall I say when death comes,
to me or to my loved one? Never mind, He will tell thee. And what when
sorrow or persecution comes? Never mind, He will tell thee.



FEBRUARY The Third

_TRANSFORMING THE HARD HEART_

_The Lord "turned the flint into a fountain of waters."_
--PSALM cxiv.


What a violent conjunction, the flint becoming the birthplace of a spring!
And yet this is happening every day. Men who are as "hard as flint," whose
hearts are "like the nether millstone," become springs of gentleness and
fountains of exquisite compassion. Beautiful graces, like lovely ferns,
grow in the home of severities, and transform the grim, stern soul into a
garden of fragrant friendships. This is what Zacchæus was like when his
flint became a fountain. It is what Matthew the publican was like when the
Lord changed his hard heart into a land of springs.

No one is "too far gone." No hardness is beyond the love and pity of God.
The well of eternal life can gush forth even in a desert waste, and "where
sin abounds grace doth much more abound." Let us bring our hardness to the
Lord. Let us see what He can make of our flint. When we are dry and
"feelingless," and desire is dead, let us bring this Sahara to the great
Restorer, and "the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the rose."



FEBRUARY The Fourth

_SPIRITUAL BUOYANCY_

"_When thou passeth through the waters they shall not overflow thee._"
--ISAIAH xliii. 1-7.


When Mrs. Booth, the mother of the Salvation Army, was dying, she quietly
said, "The waters are rising but I am not sinking." But then she had been
saying that all through her life. Other floods besides the waters of death
had gathered about her soul. Often had the floods been out and the roads
were deep in affliction. But she had never sunk! The good Lord made her
buoyant, and she rode upon the storm! This, then, is the promise of the
Lord, not that the waters of trouble shall never gather about the
believer, but that he shall never be overwhelmed. He shall "keep his head
above them." Yes, to him shall be given the grace of "aboveness." He shall
never be under, always above! It is the precious gift of spiritual
buoyancy, sanctified good spirits, the power of the Christian hope. When
we are in Christ Jesus circumstances shall never be our master. One is our
Master, and "we are more than conquerors in Him that loved us, and washed
us from our sins in His own blood."



FEBRUARY The Fifth

_EVERYWHERE THE GATE OF HEAVEN_

"_Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not._"
--GENESIS xxviii. 10-22.


That is the first time for many a day that Jacob had named the name of
God. In all the dark story of his wicked intrigue the name of God is never
mentioned. Jacob wanted to forget God! God would be a disturbing presence!
But here he encounters Him in a dream, and in the most unlikely place.
"And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!"

Jacob had yet to learn that there is everywhere "a ladder set up on the
earth and the top of it reaches to heaven." There was a ladder from the
very tent in which he wore his deceptive skin. There was a ladder from the
secret place where he and his mother wove their mischievous plot. There is
no corner of earth which is cut away from the Divine vigilance. God gets
at us everywhere.

But there is a merciful side to all this. If the ladder be everywhere, and
God can get at us, then also everywhere we can get at God. There are
"ascending angels" who will carry our confessions, our prayers, our sighs
and mournings, to the very heart of the eternally gracious God.



FEBRUARY The Sixth

_THE HOME-BIRD_

PSALM xci. 1-12.


I read a sentence the other day in which a very powerful modern writer
describes a certain woman as "having God on her visiting list." We may
recoil from the phrase, but it very vitally describes a very awful
commonplace. Countless thousands have God on their visiting lists. They
pay Him courtesy-calls, and between the calls He is forgotten. Perhaps the
call is paid once a week in the social function of worship. Perhaps it is
paid more rarely, like calls between comparative strangers. How great the
contrast between a caller and one who dwells in the secret place! It is
the difference between a flirt and a "home-bird," between one who flits
about on a score of fancies, and one who settles down in the solid
satisfaction of a supreme affection.

"_Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty._" Such is the reward of
the "home-bird," the settled friend of the Lord. The shadow of the Lord
shall rest upon him continually. I sometimes read of our monarchs being
"shadowed" by protective police. In an infinitely more real and intimate
sense the soul that dwells in "the secret place" is shadowed by the
sleepless grace and love of God.



FEBRUARY The Seventh

_LEAVING ITS MARK_

"_Fear not, thou worm Jacob, I will make thee a threshing
instrument with teeth._"
--ISAIAH xli. 8-14.


Could any two things be in greater contrast than a worm and an instrument
with teeth? The worm is delicate, bruised by a stone, crushed beneath a
passing wheel; an instrument with teeth can break and not be broken, it
can grave its mark upon the rock. And the mighty God can convert the one
into the other. He can take a man or a nation, who has all the impotence
of the worm, and by the invigoration of His own Spirit He can endow them
with strength by which they will leave a noble mark upon the history of
their time.

And so the "worm" may take heart. The mighty God can make us stronger than
our circumstances. We can bend them all to our good. In God's strength we
can make them all pay tribute to our souls. We can even take hold of a
black disappointment, break it open, and extract some jewel of grace. When
God gives us wills like iron we can drive through difficulties as the iron
share cuts through the toughest soil. "I will make thee," saith the Lord,
"and shall He not do it?"



FEBRUARY The Eighth

_REVISITING OLD ALTARS_

"_I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me
in the day of my distress._"
--GENESIS xxxv. 1-7.


It is a blessed thing to revisit our early altars. It is good to return
to the haunts of early vision. Places and things have their sanctifying
influences, and can recall us to lost experiences. I know a man to whom
the scent of a white, wild rose is always a call to prayer. I know another
to whom Grasmere is always the window of holy vision. Sometimes a
particular pew in a particular church can throw the heavens open, and we
see the Son of God. The old Sunday-school has sometimes taken an old man
back to his childhood and back to his God. So I do not wonder that God led
Jacob back to Bethel, and that in the old place of blessing he
reconsecrated himself to the Lord.

It is a revelation of the loving-kindness of God that we have all these
helps to the recovery of past experiences. Let us use them with reverence.
And in our early days let us make them. Let us build altars of communion
which in later life we shall love to revisit. Let us make our early home
"the house of God and the gate of heaven." Let us multiply deeds of
service which will make countless places fragrant for all our after
years.



FEBRUARY The Ninth

_THE ROCK AND THE BOWING WALL_

PSALM lxii.


Here are two symbols by which the psalmist describes the confidence of the
righteous. "_He only is my rock._" Only yesterday I had the shelter of a
great rock on a storm-swept mountain side. The wind tore along the
heights, driving the rain like hail, but in the opening of the rock our
shelter was complete.

And the second symbol is this: "_He is my high place._" The high place is
the home of the chamois, out of reach of the arrow. "Flee as a bird to
your mountain!" Get beyond the hunter's range! Our security is found in
loftiness. It is our unutterable privilege to live in the heavenly places
in Christ Jesus. Such is the confidence of the righteous.

In this psalm there is also another pair of symbols describing the
futility of the wicked. The wicked is "_as a bowing wall._" The wall is
out of perpendicular, out of conformity with the truth of the plumb-line,
and it will assuredly topple into ruin. So is it with the wicked: he is
building awry, and he will fall into moral disaster. He is also "_as a
tottering fence._" The wind and the rain dislodge the fence, it rots at
its foundations, and one day it lies prone upon the ground.



FEBRUARY The Tenth

_REGISTERING A VERDICT_

"_The Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey._"
--JOSHUA xxiv. 22-28.


Here was a definite decision. Our peril is that we spend our life in
wavering and we never decide. We are like a jury which is always hearing
evidence and never gives a verdict. We do much thinking, but we never make
up our minds. We let our eyes wander over many things, but we make no
choice. Life has no crisis, no culmination.

Now people who never decide spend their days in hoping to do so. But this
kind of life becomes a vagrancy and not a noble and illumined crusade. We
drift through our days, we do not steer, and we never arrive at any rich
and stately haven.

It is therefore vitally wise to "make a vow unto the Lord." It is good to
pull our loose thinkings together and to "gird up the loins of the mind."
Let a man, at some definite place, and at some definite moment, make the
supreme choice of his life.



FEBRUARY The Eleventh

_THE HILL COUNTRY OF THE SOUL_

PSALM cxxi.


There should be a hill country in every life, some great up-towering peaks
which dominate the common plain. There should be an upland district, where
springs are born, and where rivers of inspiration have their birth. "I
will lift up mine eyes unto the hills."

The soul that knows no hills is sure to be oppressed with the monotony of
the road. The inspiration to do little things comes from the presence of
big things. It is amazing what dull trifles we can get through when a
radiant love is near. A noble companionship glorifies the dingiest road.
And what if that Companion be God? Then, surely, "the common round and
daily task" have a light thrown upon them from "the beauty of His
countenance."

The "heavenlies" are our salvation and our defence. "His righteousness is
like the great mountains." "The mountains bring forth peace unto His
people."



FEBRUARY The Twelfth

_THE BULB AND THE SOIL_

"_He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them,
he it is that loveth Me._"
--JOHN xiv. 15-24.


Yes, but how can I keep them? Some one sent me a bulb which requires a
certain kind of soil, but he also sent me the soil in which to grow it. He
sent instructions, but he also sent power. And when I am bidden to keep a
commandment I feel as though I have received the bulb but not the soil!
But is this God's way of dealing with His people? I will read on if
perchance I may find the gift of the soil.

"He that abideth in Me ... the same bringeth forth much fruit." That is
the gift I seek. For the keeping of His commandments the Lord provides
Himself. I am not called upon to raise fruits out of the soil of my own
will, out of my own infirmity of aspiration or desire. I can rest
everything in God! I can "abide in Him," and I may have the holy energies
of the Godhead to produce in me the fruits of a holy and obedient life.
The good Lord provides both the bulb and the soil.

It is the tragedy of life that we forget this, and seek to make a soil-bed
of our own. And thus do we suffer the calamity of fruitless labour, the
heavy drudgery of tasks beyond our strength. "Come unto Me, all ye that
labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."



FEBRUARY The Thirteenth

_GRUDGES_

"_Thou shalt not bear any grudge._"
--LEVITICUS xix. 11-18.


How searching is that demand upon the soul! My forgiveness of my brother
is to be complete. No sullenness is to remain, no sulky temper which so
easily gives birth to thunder and lightning. There is to be no painful
aloofness, no assumption of a superiority which rains contempt upon the
offender. When I forgive, I am not to carry any powder forward on the
journey. I am to empty out all my explosives, all my ammunition of anger
and revenge. I am not to "bear any grudge."

I cannot meet this demand. It is altogether beyond me. I might utter words
of forgiveness, but I cannot reveal a clear, bright, blue sky without a
touch of storm brewing anywhere. But the Lord of grace can do it for me.
He can change my weather. He can create a new climate. He can "renew a
right spirit within me," and in that holy atmosphere nothing shall live
which seeks to poison and destroy. Grudges shall die "like cloud-spots in
the dawn." Revenge, that awful creation of the unclean, feverish soul,
shall give place to goodwill, the strong genial presence which makes its
home in the new heart.



FEBRUARY The Fourteenth

_IMPERFECT CONSECRATION_

MATTHEW xix. 16-22.


The rich young ruler consecrated a part, but was unwilling to consecrate
the whole. He hallowed the inch but not the mile. He would go part of the
way, but not to the end. And the peril is upon us all. We give ourselves
to the Lord, but we reserve some liberties. We offer Him our house, but
we mark some rooms "Private." And that word "Private," denying the Lord
admission, crucifies Him afresh. He has no joy in the house so long as any
rooms are withheld.

Dr. F. B. Meyer has told us how his early Christian life was marred and
his ministry paralyzed just because he had kept back one key from the
bunch of keys he had given to the Lord. Every key save one! The key of one
room kept for personal use, and the Lord shut out. And the effects of the
incomplete consecration were found in lack of power, lack of assurance,
lack of joy and peace.

The "joy of the Lord" begins when we hand over the last key. We sit with
Christ on His throne as soon as we have surrendered all our crowns, and
made Him sole and only ruler of our life and its possessions.



FEBRUARY The Fifteenth

_THE WITNESS OF YESTERDAY_

PSALM lxxviii. 1-8.


Our yesterdays are to be the teachers of our children. We are to take them
over our road, and show them the pitfalls where we stumbled and the snares
that lured us away. And we are to show them how we found the springs of
grace, and how the Lord made Himself known to us in daily providence and
care. We are to relate His exploits, "His wonderful dealings with the
children of men." We must make our life witness of God to our children,
and when their minds roam over our road they must see it radiant with the
grace and mercy of the Lord.

The best inheritance I can give my child is a steadfast witness of my
knowledge of God. The testimony of a light that never failed may give him
the needful wisdom when his own way becomes troubled with clouds and
darkness. And what a story it is, this story of the deeds of our gracious
God. It is full of quickening for weary and desponding souls. It is a
perfect reservoir of inspiration for those whose desire has failed, and in
whose lives the wells of impulse have become dry. Let us bring forward
yesterday's wealth to enrich the life of to-day. "Do ye not remember the
miracle of the loaves?"



FEBRUARY The Sixteenth

_CROWDING OUT GOD_

"_Lest thou forget._"
--DEUTERONOMY iv. 5-13.


That is surely the worst affront we can put upon anybody. We may oppose a
man and hinder him in his work, or we may directly injure him, or we may
ignore him, and treat him as nothing. Or we may forget him! Opposition,
injury, contempt, neglect, forgetfulness! Surely this is a descending
scale, and the last is the worst. And yet we can forget the Lord God. We
can forget all His benefits. We can easily put Him out of mind. We can
live as though He were dead. "My children have forgotten Me."

What shall we do to escape this great disaster? "_Take heed to thyself!_"
To take heed is to be at the helm and not asleep in the cabin. It is to
steer and not to drift. It is to keep our eyes on the compass and our
hands on the wheel. It is to know where we are going. We never
deliberately forget our Lord; we carelessly drift into it. "Take heed."

"_And keep thy soul diligently._" Gardens run to seed, and ill weeds grow
apace. The fair things are crowded out, and the weed reigns everywhere. It
is ever so with my soul. If I neglect it, the flowers of holy desire and
devotion will be choked by weeds of worldliness. God will be crowded out,
and the garden of the soul will become a wilderness of neglect and sin.



FEBRUARY The Seventeenth

_BLESSINGS AND CURSINGS_

"_He read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings._"
--JOSHUA viii. 30-35.


We are inclined to read only what pleases us, to hug the blessings and to
ignore the warnings. We bask in the light, we close our eyes to the
lightning. We recount the promises, we shut our ears to the rebukes. We
love the passages which speak of our Master's gentleness, we turn away
from those which reveal His severity. And all this is unwise, and
therefore unhealthy. We become spiritually soft and anæmic. We lack moral
stamina. We are incapable of noble hatred and of holy scorn. We are
invertebrate, and on the evil day we are not able to stand.

We must read "all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings."
We must let the Lord brace us with His severities. We must gaze steadily
upon the appalling fearfulness of sin, and upon its terrific issues. At
all costs we must get rid of the spurious gentleness that holds compromise
with uncleanness, that effeminate affection which is destitute of holy
fire. We must seek the love which burns everlastingly against all sin; we
must seek the gentleness which can fiercely grip a poisonous growth and
tear it out to its last hidden root. We must seek that holy love which is
as a "consuming fire."



FEBRUARY The Eighteenth

_THE SUBTLETY OF TEMPTATION_

JAMES i. 12-20.


Evil enticements always come to us in borrowed attire. In the Boer War
ammunition was carried out in piano cases, and military advices were
transmitted in the skins of melons. And that is the way of the enemy of
our souls. He makes us think we are receiving music when he is sending
explosives; he promises life, but his gift is laden with the seeds of
death. He offers us liberty, and he hides his chains in dazzling flowers.
"Things are not what they seem."

And so our enemy uses mirages, and will-o'-the-wisps and tinselled crowns.
He lights friendly fires on perilous coasts to snare us to our ruin. And
therefore we need clear, sure eyes. We need a refined moral sense which
can discriminate between the true and the false, and which can discern the
enemy even when he comes as "an angel of light." And we may have this
wisdom from "the God of all wisdom." By His grace we may be kept morally
sensitive, and we shall know our foe even when he is a long way off.



FEBRUARY The Ninteenth

_THE THOUGHT AFAR OFF_

PSALM cxxxix. 1-12.


"Thou knowest my thought afar off." That fills me with awe. I cannot find
a hiding-place where I can sin in secrecy. I cannot build an apparent
sanctuary and conceal evil within its walls. I cannot with a sheep's skin
hide the wolf. I cannot wrap my jealousy up in flattery and keep it
unknown. "Thou God seest me." He knows the bottom thought that creeps in
the basement of my being. Nothing surprises God! He sees all my sin. So am
I filled with awe.

"Thou knowest my thought afar off." This fills me also with hope and joy.
He sees the faintest, weakest desire, aspiring after goodness. He sees the
smallest fire of affection burning uncertainly in my soul. He sees every
movement of penitence which looks toward home. He sees every little
triumph, and every altar I build along life's way. Nothing is overlooked.
My God is not like a policeman, only looking for crimes; He is the God of
grace, looking for graces, searching for jewels to adorn His crown. So am
I filled with hope and joy.



FEBRUARY The Twentieth

_TAMPERING WITH THE LABEL_

1 JOHN iii. 4-10.


Sin is transgression. It is the deliberate climbing of the fence. We see
the trespass-board, and in spite of the warning we stride into the
forbidden field. Sin is not ignorance, it is intention. We sin when we are
wide-awake! There are teachers abroad who would soften words like these.
They offer us terms which appear to lessen the harshness of our actions;
they give our sin an aspect of innocence. But to alter the label on the
bottle does not change the character of the contents. Poison is poison
give it what name we please. "Sin is the transgression of the law."

Let us be on our guard against the men whose pockets are filled with
deceptive labels. Let us vigilantly resist all teachings which would
chloroform the conscience. Let us prefer true terms to merely nice ones.
Let us call sin by its right name, and let us tolerate no moral conjuring
either with ourselves or with others. The first essential in all moral
reformation is to call sin "sin." "If we confess our sin He is faithful
and just to forgive us our sin."



FEBRUARY The Twenty-first

_GRACE REIGNS!_

ROMANS v. 12-21.


When old Mr. Honest came to the river, and he entered the cold waters of
death, the last words he was heard to utter by those who stood on the
shore were these:--"Grace reigns!" All through his pilgrimage old Mr.
Honest had been in Emmanuel's land where grace reigned night and day. It
was through grace that he had found the way of life. It was through grace
that he had been delivered from the beasts and pitfalls of the road. It
was grace that had given him lilies of peace, and springs of refreshment,
and the fine air that inspired him in difficult tasks. And in death he
still found "grace abounding," and the Lord of the changing road was also
Lord of the dark waters through which he passed into the radiant glories
of the cloudless day.

In every yard of a faithful pilgrimage we shall find the decrees of
sovereign love. We are never in alien country. "Grace reigns" in every
hill and valley, through every green pasture and over every rugged road,
in every moment of "the day of life," and in the last sharp passage
through the transient night of death.



FEBRUARY The Twenty-second

_THE THREE GARDENS_

REVELATION xxii. 1-14.


The Bible opens with a garden. It closes with a garden. The first is the
Paradise that was lost. The last is Paradise regained. And between the two
there is a third garden, the garden of Gethsemane. And it is through the
unspeakable bitterness and desolation of Gethsemane that we find again the
glorious garden through which flows "the river of water of life." Without
Gethsemane no New Jerusalem! Without its mysterious and unfathomable night
no blessed sunrise of eternal hope! "We were reconciled to God by the
death of His Son."

We are always in dire peril of regarding our redemption lightly. We hold
it cheaply. Privileges easily come to be esteemed as rights. And even
grace itself can lose the strength of heavenly favour and can be received
and used as our due. "Gethsemane can I forget?" Yes, I can; and in the
forgetfulness I lose the sacred awe of my redemption, and I miss the real
glory of "Paradise regained." "Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a
price." That is the remembrance that keeps the spirit lowly, and that
fills the heart with love for Him "whose I am," and whom I ought to
serve.



FEBRUARY The Twenty-third

_THE PROCESS AND THE END_

"_Ye have seen the end of the Lord: that the Lord
is very pitiful, and of tender mercy._"
--JAMES v. 7-11.


And so we are bidden to be patient. "We must wait to the end of the Lord."
The Lord's ends are attained through very mysterious means. Sometimes the
means are in contrast to the ends. He works toward the harvest through
winter's frost and snow. The maker of chaste and delicate porcelain
reaches his lovely ends through an awful mortar, where the raw material of
bone and clay is pounded into a cream. In that mortar-chamber we have no
hint of the finished ware. But be patient, even in this chamber of
affliction the ware is on the way to glory!

And so it is with the ministries of our Lord. He leads us through discords
into harmonies, through opposition into union, through adversities into
peace. His means of grace are processes, sometimes gentle, sometimes
severe; and our folly is to assume that we have reached His ends when we
are only on the way to them. "The end of the Lord is very pitiful, and of
tender mercy." "Be patient, therefore," until it shall be spoken of thee
and me, "And God saw that it was good."



FEBRUARY The Twenty-fourth

_MOVING TOWARDS DAYBREAK_

"_He hath brought me into darkness, but not into light._"
--LAMENTATIONS iii. 1-9.


But a man may be in darkness, and yet in motion toward the light. I was in
the darkness of the subway, and it was close and oppressive, but I was
moving toward the light and fragrance of the open country. I entered into
a tunnel in the Black Country in England, but the motion was continued,
and we emerged amid fields of loveliness. And therefore the great thing to
remember is that God's darknesses are not His goals; His tunnels are means
to get somewhere else. Yes, His darknesses are appointed ways to His
light. In God's keeping we are always moving, and we are moving towards
Emmanuel's land, where the sun shines, and the birds sing night and day.

There is no stagnancy for the God-directed soul. He is ever guiding us,
sometimes with the delicacy of a glance, sometimes with the firmer
ministry of a grip, and He moves with us always, even through "the valley
of the shadow of death." Therefore, be patient, my soul! The darkness is
not thy bourn, the tunnel is not thy abiding home! He will bring thee out
into a large place where thou shalt know "the liberty of the glory of the
children of God."



FEBRUARY The Twenty-fifth

_THE FRESH EYE_

"_His compassions fail not: they are new every morning._"
--LAMENTATIONS iii. 22-33.


We have not to live on yesterday's manna; we can gather it fresh to-day.
Compassion becomes stale when it becomes thoughtless. It is new thought
that keeps our pity strong. If our perception of need can remain vivid, as
vivid as though we had never seen it before, our sympathies will never
fail. The fresh eye insures the sensitive heart. And our God's compassions
are so new because He never becomes accustomed to our need. He always sees
it with an eye that is never dulled by the commonplace; He never becomes
blind with much seeing! We can look at a thing so often that we cease to
see it. God always sees a thing as though He were seeing it for the first
time. "Thou, God, seest me," and "His compassions fail not."

And if my compassions are to be like a river that never knows drought, I
must cultivate a freshness of sight. The horrible can lose its horrors.
The daily tragedy can become the daily commonplace. My neighbour's needs
can become as familiar as my furniture, and I may never see either the one
or the other. And therefore must I ask the Lord for the daily gift of
discerning eyes. "Lord, that I may receive my sight." And with an always
newly-awakened interest may I reveal "the compassions of the Lord!"



FEBRUARY The Twenty-sixth

_THE CELLARS OF AFFLICTION_

PSALM xxxiv. 9-22.


Samuel Rutherford used to say that whenever he found himself in the
cellars of afflictions he used to look about for the King's wine. He would
look for the wine-bottles of the promises and drink rich draughts of
vitalizing grace. And surely that is the best deliverance in all
affliction, to be made so spiritually exhilarant that we can rise above
it. I might be taken out of affliction, and emerge a poor slave and
weakling. I might remain in affliction, and yet be king in the seeming
servitude, "more than conqueror" in Christ Jesus. It is a great thing to
be led through green pastures and by still waters; I think it is a greater
thing to have a "table prepared before me _in the presence of mine
enemies_." It is good to be able to sing in the sunny noon; it is better
still to be able to sing "songs in the night."

And this deliverance may always be ours in Christ Jesus. The Lord may not
smooth out our circumstances, but we may have the regal right of peace. He
may not save us from the sorrows of a newly-cut grave, but we may have the
glorious strength of the immortal hope. God will enable us to be masters
of all our circumstances, and none shall have a deadly hold upon us.



FEBRUARY The Twenty-seventh

_THE MIGHT OF FRAILTY_

PSALM cv. 23-36.


That is the wonder of wonders, that the Almighty God will use frail
humanity as the vehicles of His power, and will make Moses and Aaron shine
with reflected glory. Man can send an electric current into a fragile
carbon film and make it incandescent. He can send his voice across a
continent, and make it speak on a distant shore. And the Lord God can do
wonders compared with which these are only as the dimmest dreams. He can
send His holy power into human speech, and the words can wake the dead. He
can send His virtue into the human will, and its strength can shake the
thrones of iniquity. He can send His love into the human heart, and the
power of its affection can capture the bitterest foe.

And so the word "impossible" becomes itself impossible when the soul of
man is in fellowship with the Lord of Hosts. The pliant will becomes an
iron pillar. The weak heart becomes "as a defended city" when it is the
home of God. Dumb lips become the thrones of mysterious eloquence when
touched with divine inspiration.



FEBRUARY The Twenty-eighth

_THE TEST OF FULNESS_

DEUTERONOMY viii. 1-10.


"And thou shalt eat and be full, and thou shalt bless the Lord thy God."
Fulness is surely a more searching test than want. Fulness induces sleep
and forgetfulness. Many a man fights a good fight with Apollyon in the
narrow way, who lapses into sleepy indifference on the Enchanted Ground.
Men often sit down to a full table without "grace." Pain cries out to God,
while boisterous health strides along in heedlessness. Yes, it is our
fulness that constitutes our direst peril. "This was the iniquity of
Sodom, _fulness_ of bread and abundance of idleness."

And so our tests may come on the sunny day. A nation's supreme tests may
come in its prosperity. The sunshine may do more damage than the
lightning. The soul may falter even in Beulah land, where "the sun shines
night and day."

Prayer must not, therefore, tarry until sickness and adversity come. We
must "pray without ceasing" in the cloudless noon, lest we are stricken
with "the arrow that flieth by day." We must seek the eternal strength
when no apparent enemy crouches at our gate, and when our easy road is
lined with luxuriant flowers and fruit.



FEBRUARY The Twenty-ninth

_INVINCIBLE RELIANCE_

HEBREWS xi. 17-22.


"Accounting that God was able." That is the faith that makes moral heroes.
That is the faith that prompts mighty ventures and crusades. It is faith
in God's willingness and ability to redeem His promises. It is faith that
if I do my part He will most assuredly do His. It is faith that He cannot
possibly fail. It is faith that when He makes a promise the money is
already in the bank. It is faith that when He sends me into the wilderness
the secret harvest is already ripe from which He will give me "daily
bread." It is faith that "all things are now ready," and in that faith I
will face the apparently impossible task.

And thus the "impossible" leads me to the "prepared." The desert leads me
to "fields white already." The hard call to sacrifice leads me to the
"lamb in the thicket." "God is able," and He is never behind the time. The
critical need unveils His grace.

Faith goes out on this invincible reliance. It is "the assurance of things
hoped for." And by faith it inherits these things and is rich and strong
in their possession.



MARCH The First

_OVERCHARGING THE HEART_

LUKE xxi. 25-36.


Here is a great peril. Our hearts may be "_overcharged with surfeiting,
and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you
unawares_." Our mode of living may send our spirits to sleep. Yes, we may
so ill-use our bodies that the watchman sleeps at his post! We can
over-eat, and dim our moral sight. A man's daily meals have vital
relationship with his vision of the Lord. If I would have a clear spirit I
must not overburden the flesh.

And therefore am I bidden to "_take heed_" to myself. I must exercise
common sense, the most important of all the senses. I must put a bridle
upon my appetite, and hold it in subjection to my Lord.

And I must "_watch_!" The devil is surpassingly cunning, and, if he can,
he will mix an opiate even with the sacramental wine. He will lure me
among the winsome poppies, and put me into a perilous sleep.

And I must "_pray_!" I have a great and glorious Defender! Let me humbly
yet confidently use Him, and I shall be delivered from the snares of
appetite, and from the benumbing influence of all excess.



MARCH The Second

_THE POWER OF THE CROSS_

JOHN x. 11-18.


"I lay down my life." In that supreme sacrifice all other sacrifices turn
pale. In the power of that sacrifice the blackest guilt finds forgiveness.
Its energies seek out the ruined and desolate life with glorious offer of
renewal. When the Lord laid down His life the entire race found a new
beginning. Our hope is born at the Cross. It is there that "the burden of
our sin rolls away." In His night we find daybreak. When He said, "It is
finished," our soul could sing, "Life is begun."

And so pilgrims gather at the Cross. Songs are heard there, the "sweetest
ever sung by mortal tongues." And the power of the Cross never wanes. Its
glorious grace reaches the soul to-day as in the earliest days. It
inspires the despairing heart. It transforms the mind. It remakes the
tissues of the will. There is no shattered power that the power of the
Cross cannot restore. "We are complete in Him."

    "In the Cross of Christ I glory,
      Towering o'er the wrecks of time;
    All the light of sacred story
      Gathers round its head sublime."



MARCH The Third

_PREPARING FOR THE BRIDE_

JOHN xiv. 1-14.


Our Lord has prepared a place. It is the Bridegroom "getting the house
ready" for the bride. And, therefore, the preparations are not made
grudgingly and with slow reluctance. Everything is of the best, and done
with the swift delight of love. "Come, for all things are now ready."

And our Lord will fetch His bride to the prepared place. "I am the way."
We become so wrapt up in Him that nothing else counts. I once travelled
through the Black Country with a fascinating friend, and I never saw it!
And we can become so absorbed in our glorious Bridegroom that we shall be
almost oblivious of adverse circumstances which may beset us. Yes, even
this is possible: "He that believeth in Me shall never see death!"

"I will receive you unto Myself." The last obscuring veil is to be rent,
and we are to see Him "face to face." And that will be home, for that will
be satisfaction and peace. The deepest hunger of the soul will be
gratified in a glorious contentment, and we shall find that "the half hath
not been told."



MARCH The Fourth

_THE GREAT COMPANION_

JOHN xiv. 15-31.


And so even the road is to have the home-feeling in it. "_I will not leave
you orphans._" Yes; there is to be something of home even in the way to
it. I find something of Devonshire even in Dorsetshire; Shropshire gives
me a taste of Wales. My Lord will not leave me comfortless. Heaven runs
over, and I find its bounty before I arrive at its gate. The "Valley of
Baca" becomes "a well."

And there are to be wonderful visions to speed the pilgrim's feet. "_I
will manifest Myself unto him._" At unexpected corners the glory will
break! We shall be assuming that we have picked up a common traveller, and
suddenly we shall discover it is the Lord, for He will be made known to us
"in the breaking of bread." And at many "risings" of the road, where the
climbing is stiff and burdensome, we shall be inspired with many a
glorious view, and we shall see "the land that is very far off."

The one condition is, that I keep His word. If I am obedient, He will
appear unto me, and the humdrum road will shine with miracles of grace.



MARCH The Fifth

_THE TENT AND THE BUILDING_

2 CORINTHIANS v. 1-9.


At present we live in a tent--"_the earthly house of this tabernacle._"
And often the tent is very rickety. There are rents through which the rain
enters, and it trembles ominously in the great storm. Some tents are frail
from the very beginning, half-rotten when they are put up, and they have
no defence even against the breeze. But even the strongest tent becomes
weather-worn and threadbare, and in the long run it "falls in a heap!" And
what then?

We shall exchange the frail tent for the solid house! "_If the earthly
house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens._" When we are unclothed we
shall find ourselves clothed with our house which is from heaven. The
glory of this transition can only be confessed by "the saints in light."
To awake, and discover that the creaking, breaking cords are left behind,
that all the leakages are over, that we are no longer exposed to the
cutting wind, that pain is passed, and sickness, and death--this must be a
wonder of inconceivable ecstasy!

And "absent from the body" we shall be "present with the Lord."



MARCH The Sixth

_HOME-LIFE IN GOD_

JOHN xvii. 20-26.


The home-life in God is to be a life of perfect union--"_I in them, and
Thou in Me._" Home is only another name for union. It is the perfect
fusion of life with life, the harmonizing of differences as many different
notes combine to form the mystery of choral song. And so will it be in the
home-land! Our manifold individualities will be retained, but we shall
"fit into one another," and in the perfect harmony we shall hear the "new
song" of heaven.

And we are to prepare that union by the contemplation of the glory of the
Lord. "_That they may behold My glory._" Yes, and we can begin to do that
now. We can lift our eyes away from the ugly compromises of men and fix
them upon the radiant holiness of the Lord. We can look away from the
dirty Alpine village and gaze upon the virgin snow of the uplifted
heights. "Looking unto Jesus!"

And in that contemplation we shall most assuredly become transformed. "_I
have given unto them the glory which Thou gavest Me._" That is our
wonderful possibility. For thee and me is this prize offered, we can
"awake in His likeness."



MARCH The Seventh

_THINGS MISSING IN HEAVEN_

REVELATION xxi. 1-7.


What a number of "conspicuous absences" there are to be in "the
home-land!"

No more sea! John was in Patmos, and the sea rolled between him and his
kinsmen. The sea was a minister of estrangement. But in the home-country
every cause of separation is to be done away, and the family life is to be
one of inconceivable intimacy. No more sea!

And no more pain! Its work is done, and therefore the worker is put away.
When the building is completed the scaffolding may be removed. When the
patient is in good health the medicine bottles can be dispensed with. And
so shall it be with pain and all its attendants. "The inhabitant never
says: 'I am sick!'"

And no more death! "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death." Yes,
he, too, shall drop his scythe, and his lax hand shall destroy no more for
ever. Death himself shall die! And all things that have shared his work
shall die with him. "The former things have passed away." The wedding-peal
which welcomes the Lamb's bride will ring the funeral knell of Death and
all his sable company.



MARCH The Eighth

_THE CITIZENS OF THE HOME-LAND_

REVELATION vii. 9-17.


The citizen of "the home-land" wears white robes. His habits are perfectly
clean. And the purity which he wears is a Divine gift and not a human
accomplishment. It cannot be attained by self-sacrifice; it is ours
through the sacrifice of our Lord. "They have washed their robes and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb."

And every citizen of the home-land bears a palm in his hand. It is the
emblem of conquest and sovereignty. By the grace of Christ they have been
lifted above self and sin, and the devil, and death, and "made to sit with
Him" on His throne. The palm is the heavenly symbol that all their
spiritual enemies are under their feet.

And every citizen of the home-land takes part in the new song. The
home-folk are therefore one in purity, one in self-conquest, and one in
praise. "Salvation unto our God which sitteth upon the throne!" In that
melody of thankfulness their union is deepened and enriched.

And we, too, can begin now to wear the white robe! And even now can we
carry the palm! And even now we can join in the song of ceaseless praise.



MARCH The Ninth

_NEARING HOME!_

2 TIMOTHY iv. 1-8.


Here is a most valiant pilgrim nearing home! By the mercy of Christ he can
look back upon a brave day, and there's a fine hopeful light in the
evening sky.

He has fought well! "_I have fought a good fight._" And his has been a
hard field. The enemy has ever regarded him as a leader in the army of the
Lord and against him has the fiercest fight been waged. But he has never
lost or stained his flag.

And he has run well! "_I have finished my course._" There was no
melancholy turning back when the feverish start had cooled. There was no
shrinking when the biting wind of malice and persecution swept across his
track. On and on he ran, with increasing speed and ardour, until he
reached the goal.

And well had he guarded his treasure! "_I have kept the faith._" He was
the custodian of "unsearchable riches," and he watched, day and night,
lest any infernal burglar should despoil him of his wealth. He guarded his
gospel, his liberty, his hope, as the sentinels guard the crown jewels in
the Tower.

And now the hard day is nearly over. "Henceforth there is laid up for me a
crown of righteousness which the Lord will give me at that day."



MARCH The Tenth

_EXALTATION BY SEPARATION_

2 CORINTHIANS vi. 11-18.


When we turn away from the world, and leave it, we ourselves are not left
to desolation and orphanhood. When we "come out from among them" the Lord
receives us! He is waiting for us. The new companionship is ours the
moment the old companionship is ended. "I will not leave you comfortless."
What we have lost is compensated by infinite and eternal gain. We have
lost "the whole world" and gained "the unsearchable riches of Christ."

And therefore separation is exaltation. We leave the muddy pleasures of
Sodom and we "drink of the river of His pleasures." We leave "the garish
day," and all the feverish life of Vanity Fair, and He maketh us "to lie
down in green pastures," "He leadeth us beside the still waters." We leave
a transient sensation, we receive the bread of eternity. We forfeit
fireworks, we gain the stars!

What fools we are, and blind! We prefer the scorched desert of Sodom to
the garden of Eden. We prefer a loud reputation to noble character. We
prefer delirium to joy. We prefer human applause to the praise of God. We
prefer a fading garland to the crown of life. Lord, that we may receive
our sight!



MARCH The Eleventh

_GOOD AND BAD ROADS_

PSALM i.


There is nothing breaks up more speedily than a badly-made road. Every
season is its enemy and works for its destruction. Fierce heat and
intensest cold both strive for its undoing. And "the way of the ungodly"
is an appallingly bad road. There is rottenness in its foundations, and
there is built into it "wood, and hay, and stubble," How can it stand?
"The Spirit of the Lord breatheth upon it," and it is surely brought to
nought. All the forces of holiness are pledged to its destruction, and
they shall pick it to pieces, and shall scatter its elements to the winds.

"I am the way!" That road remains sound "in all generations." Changing
circumstances cannot affect its stability. It is proof against every
tempest, and against the most violent heat. It is a road in which little
children can walk in happiness and in which old people can walk in peace.
It is firm in the day of life, and it is absolutely sure in the hour of
death. It never yields! "Thou hast set my feet upon a rock and hast
established my goings." "This is the way, walk ye in it."



MARCH The Twelfth

_THE COMING OF THE LORD_

LUKE xvii. 22-32.


In a certain very real way the Lord is coming every moment. And the great
art of Christian living is to be able to discern Him when He arrives. He
may appear as the village carpenter; or we may "suppose Him to be one of
the gardeners," and we may mistake His appearing! He may meet us in some
lowly duty, or in some seemingly unpleasant task. He may shine in the
cheeriness of some triumph, or whisper to us in a message of good news. "I
come again." And if our eyes are open we shall see Him coming continually.
It is by this perception that the value of our life is measured and
weighed.

But He will also come again "suddenly," when the soul will be translated
into unknown climes. He will come again in the sable robes of death. Shall
we know Him? Will our eyes be so keen and true that we shall be able to
pierce the dark veil and say "It is the Lord!" This has been the joyful
experience of countless multitudes. When the summons came their souls went
forth, not as victims to encounter death, but as the bride "to meet the
bridegroom!" They had intimacy with Him in life; they had glorious
fellowship with Him in death!



MARCH The Thirteenth

_SICKNESS AMONG CHRIST'S FRIENDS_

JOHN xi. 1-16.


And so sickness can enter the circle of the friends of the Lord. "_He whom
Thou lovest is sick._" My sicknesses do not mean that I have lost His
favour. The shadow is His, as well as the sunshine. When He removes me
from the glare of boisterous health it may be because of some spiritual
fern which needs the ministry of the shade. "_This sickness is ... for the
glory of God._" Something beautiful will spring out of the shadowed
seclusion, something which shall spread abroad the name and fame of God.

And, therefore, I do not wonder at the Lord's delay. He did not hasten
away to the sick friend: "_He abode two days still in the same place where
He was._" Shall I put it like this: the awaking bulbs were not yet ready
for the brighter light--just a little more shade! We are impatient to get
healthy; the Lord desires that we become holy. Our physical sickness is
continued in order that we may put on spiritual strength.

And there are others besides sick Lazarus concerned in the sickness: "I am
glad _for your sakes_ I was not there." The disciples were included in the
divine scheme. Their spiritual welfare was to be affected by it. Let me
ever remember that the circle affected by sickness is always wider than
the patient's bed. And may God be glorified in all!



MARCH The Fourteenth

"_EVEN NOW!_"

JOHN xi. 17-31.


Let me consider this marvellous confession of Martha's faith. "I know that
_even now_, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee!" Mark
the "even now"! Lazarus was dead, and it was midnight in the desolate
home. But "even now"! Beautiful it is when a soul's most awful crises are
the seasons of its most radiant faith! Beautiful it is when our lamp
shines steadily in the tempest, and when our spiritual confidence remains
unshaken like a gloriously rooted tree. Beautiful it is when in our
midnight men can hear the strains of the "even now"!

And let me consider the wonder of the Divine response. "_I am the
resurrection and the life._" A faith like Martha's will always win the
Saviour's best. And here is an overwhelming best before which we can only
bow in silent homage and awe. He is the Fountain in whom the stagnant
brook shall find currency again. He is the Life in whom the fallen dead
shall rise to their feet again.

And what is this? "Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me _shall never
die_!" We shall go to sleep, but we shall never taste the bitterness of
death. In the very act of closing our material eyes we shall open our
spiritual eyes, and find ourselves at home!



MARCH The Fifteenth

_JESUS AT A GRAVE_

JOHN xi. 32-45.


Here is Jesus weeping. "Jesus wept." Why did He weep? Perhaps He wept out
of sheer sympathy with the tears of others. And perhaps, too, He wept
because some of our tears were needless. If we were better men we should
know more of the love and purpose of our Lord, and perhaps many of our
tears would be dried. Still, here is the sweet and heartening evangel. He
sympathizes with my grief! Never a bitter tear is shed without my Lord
sharing the tang and the pang.

Here is Jesus praying! "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me."
Then it is not so much a prayer as a thanksgiving. He gives thanks for
what He is "about to receive." Is this my way? Perhaps I do it before I
take a meal. Do I do it before I begin to live the day? In the morning do
I thank my God for what I am about to receive? Can I confidently give
thanks before I receive the gifts of God, before the dish-covers are
removed? Can I trust Him?

And here is Jesus commanding, clothed in sovereign power: "Lazarus, come
forth!" That is the same voice which "in the beginning created the heavens
and the earth."



MARCH The Sixteenth

_THE NEMESIS OF BIGOTRY_

JOHN xi. 46-57.


A fearful nemesis waits upon the spirit of bigotry. Oliver Wendell Holmes
has said that bigotry is like the pupil of the eye, the more light you
pour into it the more it contracts. The scribes and Pharisees became
smaller men the more the Lord revealed His glory. In the raising of
Lazarus they saw nothing of the glory of the resurrection life, nothing of
the joy of the reunited family, nothing of the gracious ministry of the
Lord! "Darkness had blinded their eyes."

And it is also the nemesis of bigotry to be bitter, cruel, and violent.
They sought to kill the Giver of life!

It is the ministry of light to ripen and sweeten the dispositions. "The
fruit of the light is in all goodness." It is the ministry of the darkness
to make men sour and unsympathetic, and revengeful, and to so pervert the
heart as to make it a minister of poison and death.

And yet, how powerless is bigotry in the long run! It can no more stay the
progress of the Kingdom than King Canute could check the flowing tide!
Bigotry slew the Lord, and He rose again! And so it ever is. "Truth
crushed to earth shall rise again; the eternal years of God are hers."



MARCH The Seventeenth

_THE COMMONPLACE OF DEATH_

LUKE vii. 11-18.


Death is never a commonplace. We never become so accustomed to funerals as
not to see them. Everybody sees the mournful procession go along the
street. A momentary awe steals over the flippant thought, and for one
brief season the superficial opens into the infinite abyss.

And yet, while a thousand are arrested, only a few are compassionate.
There can be awe without pity; there can be interest without service. When
this humble funeral train trudged out of the city of Nain our Lord halted,
and His heart melted! There was an "aching void," and He longed to fill
it. There was a bleeding, broken heart, and He yearned to stand and heal
it. He found His own joy in removing another's tears, His own satisfaction
in another's peace.

"_The Lord hath visited His people!_" That is what the people said, and I
do not wonder at the saying! And let me, too, be a humble visitor in the
troubled ways of men! Let my heart be a well of sweet compassion to all
the sons and daughters of grief! Like Barnabas, let me be "a son of
consolation."



MARCH The Eighteenth

_SERENITY IN THE TEMPEST_

JOB xix. 23-27.


Perhaps I am akin to Job in having experienced the pressure of calamity. I
have felt the shock of adverse circumstances, and the house of my life has
trembled in the convulsion. Or death has been to my door and has returned
again and again, and every time he has left me weeping! All God's billows
have gone over me! Verily, I can take my place by the patriarch Job.

But can I share his witness, "_I know that my Redeemer liveth_"? Have I a
calm assurance that my ruler is not caprice, and that my comings and
goings are not determined by unfeeling chance? When death knocked at my
door, did I know that the King had sent him? When some cherished scheme
toppled into ruin, had I any thought that the Lord's hand was concerned in
the shaking? Even when my circumstances are dubious, and I cannot trace a
gracious purpose, do I know that my Vindicator liveth, and that some day
He will justify all the happenings of the troubled road?

I will pay for this gracious confidence. I would have a firm step even
among disappointments; yea, I would "sing songs in the night!"



MARCH The Nineteenth

_DEATH AS MY SERVANT_

REVELATION xx. 1-6.


Even now I would rise from the dead. Even now I would know "the power of
His resurrection." Even now I would taste the rapture of the deathless
life. And this is my glorious prerogative in grace. Yes, even now I can be
"risen with Christ," and "death shall no more have dominion over me!"

And yet I must die! Yes, but the old enemy shall now be my friend. He will
not be my master, but my servant. He shall just be the porter, to open the
door into my Father's house, into the home of unspeakable blessedness and
glory. Death shall not hurt me!

I have seen a little child fall asleep while out in the streets of the
city, and the kind nurse has taken charge of the sleeper, and when the
little one awaked she was at home, and she opened her eyes upon her
mother's face.

So shall it be with all who are alive in Christ, and who have risen from a
spiritual grave. They shall just fall into a brief sweet sleep, and gentle
death shall usher them into the glory of the endless day.



MARCH The Twentieth

_THE LORD IS AT HAND!_

"_Ye know not what hour your Lord doth come._"
--MATTHEW xxiv. 42-51.


Then let me always live as though my Lord were at the gate! Let me arrange
my affairs on the assumption that the next to lift the latch will be the
King. When I am out with my friend, walking and talking, let me assume
that just round the corner I may meet the Lord.

And so let me practise meeting Him! Said a mother to me one day concerning
her long-absent boy: "I lay a place for him at every meal! His seat is
always ready!" May I not do this for my Lord? May I not make a place for
Him in all my affairs--my choices, my pleasures, my times of business, my
season of rest? He may come just now; let His place be ready!

If He delay, I must not become careless. If He give me further liberty, I
must not take liberties with it. Here is the golden principle, ever to
live, ever to think, ever to work as though the Lord had already arrived.
For indeed, He has, and when the veil is rent I shall find Him at my
side.



MARCH The Twenty-first

_IN THE GOLDEN CITY_

ISAIAH lii. 1-12.


And so these are the glories of the golden city. There is _wakefulness_.
"Awake! awake!" In the golden city none will be asleep. Everybody will be
bright-eyed, clear-minded, looking upon all beautiful things with fresh
and ready receptiveness. "The eyes of them that see shall not be dim."

There is _strength_. "Put on thy strength!" There will be no broken wills
in the golden city, and no broken hearts. No one will walk with a limp!
Everybody will go with a brave stride as to the strains of a band. And no
one will tire of living, and the inhabitant never says, "I am sick."

And there is _beauty_. "Put on thy beautiful garments." Bare strength
might not be attractive. But strength clothed in beauty is a very gracious
thing. The tender mosses on the granite make it winsome. Strength is
companionable when it is united with grace. In the golden city there will
be tender sentiment as well as rigid conviction.

And these glories will be our defence. A positive virtue is our best
rampart against vice. A robust health is the best protection against the
epidemic. "The prince of this world cometh, and he hath nothing in me."



MARCH The Twenty-second

_COUNSEL AND MIGHT_

PSALM cxix. 33-40.


The psalmist prays for an _illumined understanding_. "Teach me, O Lord,
the way of Thy statutes." We are so prone to be children of the twilight,
and to see things out of their true proportions. Therefore do we need to
be daily taught. I must go into the school of the Lord, and in docility of
spirit I must sit at His feet. "O, teach me, Lord, teach even me!"

And the psalmist prays for _rectified inclinations_. "Incline my heart
unto Thy testimonies." We so often have the wrong bias, the fatal taste,
and our desires are all against the will of the Lord. If only my leanings
were toward the Lord how swift my progress would be! I strive to walk
after holiness, while my inclinations are in the realm of sin. And so I
need a clean mouth, with an appetite for the beautiful and the true.
"Blessed are they that hunger after righteousness."

And the psalmist prays for _a strenuous will_. "Make me to go in the path
of Thy commandments." He is praying for "go," for moral persistence, for
power to crash through all obstacles which may impede his heavenly
progress. And such is my need. Good Lord, endow me with a will like "an
iron pillar," and help me to "stand in the evil day."



MARCH The Twenty-third

_THE DARK BETRAYAL_

JOHN xviii. 1-14.


Our Master was betrayed by a disciple, "one of the twelve." The blow came
from one of "His own household." The world employed a "friend" to execute
its dark design. And so our intimacy with Christ may be our peril; our
very association may be made our temptation. The devil would rather gain
_one_ belonging to the inner circle than a thousand who stand confessed as
the friends of the world. What am I doing in the kingdom? Can I be
trusted? Or am I in the pay of the evil one?

And our Master was betrayed in the garden of prayer. In the most hallowed
place the betrayer gave the most unholy kiss. He brought his defilement
into the most awe-inspiring sanctuary the world has ever known. And so may
it be with me. I can kindle the unclean fire in the church. I can stab my
Lord when I am on my knees. While I am in apparent devotion I can be in
league with the powers of darkness.

And this "dark betrayal" was for money! The Lord of Glory was bartered for
thirty pieces of silver! And the difference between Judas and many men is
that they often sell their Lord for less! From the power of Mammon, and
from the blindness which falls upon his victims, good Lord, deliver me!



MARCH The Twenty-fourth

_IN GETHSEMANE_

LUKE xxii. 39-46.


Surely this is the very Holy of Holies! It were well for us to fall on our
knees and "be silent unto the Lord." I would quietly listen to the awful
words, "Remove this cup from Me!" and I would listen again and again until
never again do I hold a cheap religion. It is in this garden that we learn
the real values of things, and come to know the price at which our
redemption was bought. No one can remain in Gethsemane and retain a
frivolous and flippant spirit.

"_And there appeared unto Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him._" I
know that angel! He has been to me. He has brought me angel's food, even
heavenly manna. Always and everywhere, when my soul has surrendered itself
to the Divine will, the angel comes, and my soul is refreshed. The laying
down of self is the taking up of God. When I lose my will I gain the
Infinite. The moment of surrender is also the moment of conquest. When I
consecrate my weakness I put on strength and majesty like a robe.

"_And when He rose up from His prayer_"--what then? Just this, He was
quietly ready for anything, ready for the betraying kiss, ready for
crucifixion. "Arise, let us be going."



MARCH The Twenty-fifth

_THE FEAR OF MAN_

JOHN xviii. 15-27.


And this is the disciple who had been surnamed "The Rock"! Our Lord looked
into the morrow, and He saw Simon's character, compacted by grace and
discipline into a texture tough and firm as granite. But there is not much
granite here! Peter is yet loose and yielding; more like a bending reed
than an unshakable rock. A servant girl whispers, and his timid heart
flings a lie to his lips and he denies his Lord.

Peter denied the Master, not because he coveted money, but because he
feared men. He was not seeking crowns, but escaping frowns. He was not
clutching at a garland, but avoiding a sword. It was not avarice but
cowardice which determined his ways. He shrank from crucifixion! He saw a
possible cross, and with a great lie he passed by on the other side.

But the Lord has not done with Peter. He is still "in the making." Some
day he will justify his new name. Some day we shall find it written: "When
they saw the boldness of Peter, they marvelled"! Once a maid could make
him tremble. Now he can stand in high places, "steadfast and unmovable"!

From the spirit of cowardice and from all temporising, and from the unholy
fear of man, deliver me, good Lord!



MARCH The Twenty-sixth

_THE KING OF KINGS_

JOHN xviii. 28-38.


What a strange King our Lord appears, claiming mystic sovereignty, and yet
betrayed by a false friend!

And yet, even in His apparent subjection His majestic kingliness stands
revealed. When I watch the demeanours of Pilate and Jesus, I can see very
clearly who it is who is on the throne; Pilate wears the outer trappings
of royalty, but my Lord's is "the power and the glory." Pilate fusses
about in a little "brief authority," but my Lord stands possessed of a
serene dominion. Even at Pilate's judgment bar Jesus is the King.

But His kingdom is "_not of this world_." And therefore this King is
unlike every other King. He seeks His possessions not by fighting, but by
"lighting"; not by coercion, but by constraint. His servants do not go
forth with swords, but with lamps; not to drive the peoples, but to lead
them. His visible throne is a cross, and His conquests are made in the
power of sacrifice.

And so His armaments are the Truth, and the Truth alone. "_For this cause
came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the Truth._" When
the Truth wins and wooes, the triumph is lasting. Garlands won by the
sword perish before the evening. To be one of the King's subjects is to
share His nature. "Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice."



MARCH The Twenty-seventh

_THE SILENCE OF JESUS_

"_He answered him nothing!_"
--LUKE xxiii. 1-12.


And yet, "Ask, and it shall be given you!" Yes, but everything depends
upon the asking. Even in the realm of music there is a rudeness of
approach which leaves true music silent. Whether the genius of music is to
answer us or not depends upon our "touch." Herod's "touch" was wrong, and
there was no response. Herod was flippant, and the Eternal was dumb. And
I, too, may question a silent Lord. In the spiritual realm an idle
curiosity is never permitted to see the crown jewels. Frivolousness never
goes away from the royal Presence rich with surprises of grace. "Thy touch
has still its ancient power!" So it has, but the healing touch is the
gracious response to the touch of faith. "She touched Him, and...!"

"_And Herod ... mocked Him._" That was the real spirit behind the eager
curiosity. And I, too, may mock my Lord! I may bow before Him, and array
Him in apparent royalty, while all the time my spirit is full of flippancy
and jeers. I may lustily sing: "Crown Him Lord of all," while I will not
recognize His rights on a single square foot of the soil of my
inheritance. And this it is to be the kinsman of Herod. And this, too,
will be the issue; the heavens will be as brass, and the Lord will answer
us nothing.



MARCH The Twenty-eighth

_THE CHOICE OF BARABBAS_

LUKE xxiii. 13-24.


Barabbas rather than Christ! The destroyer of life rather than the Giver
of life! This was the choice of the people; and it is a choice which has
often stained and defiled my own life.

When I choose revenge rather than forgiveness, I am preferring Barabbas to
Christ. For revenge is a murderer, while forgiveness is a healer and
saviour of men. But how often I have sent the sweet healer to the cross,
and welcomed the murderer within my gate!

When I choose carnal passion before holiness, I am preferring Barabbas to
Christ. For is there any murderer so destructive as carnality? And
holiness stands waiting, ready to make me beautiful with the wondrous
garments of grace. But I spurn the angel, and open my door to the beast.

The devil is always soliciting my service, and the devil "is a murderer
from the beginning." Have I never preferred him, and sent my Lord to be
"crucified afresh," and "put Him to an open shame"?

Again let me pray--for all my unholy and unwholesome choices, for all my
preference of the murderer, forgive me, good Lord!



MARCH The Twenty-ninth

_MYSTIC ALARM-BELLS_

MATTHEW xxvii. 19-25.


Pilate was warned. Pilate's wife had a dream, and in the dream she had
glimpses of reality, and when she awoke her soul was troubled. "Have thou
nothing to do with that just man!"

And I, too, have mysterious warnings when I am treading perilous ways.
Sometimes the warning comes from a friend. Sometimes "the angel of the
Lord stands in the way for an adversary." My conscience rings loudly like
an alarm-bell in the dead of night. Yes, the warnings are clear and
pertinent, but...!

Pilate ignored the warning, and handed the Lord to the revengeful will of
the priests. Pilate defiled his heart, and then he washed his hands! What
a petty attempt to escape the certain issues! And yet we have shared in
the small evasion. We have crucified the Lord, and then we wear a
crucifix. We violate the spirit, and then we do reverence to the letter.
We hand the Lord over to be crucified, and then we practise the postures
and gait of the saints. Yes, we have all sought an escape in outer
ceremony from the nemesis of our shameful deeds.

My soul, attend thou to the mystic warnings, and "play the man"!



MARCH The Thirtieth

_THE VICTORY OF MEEKNESS_

1 PETER ii. 17-25.


Then I may be not only the betrayer, but the betrayed. In my inner circle
there may be a friend who will play me false, and hand me over to the
wolves. What then? Just this--I must imitate the grace of my Lord, and
"consider Him."

There must be no violent retaliation. "_When He was reviled, He reviled
not again._" The fire of revenge may singe or even scorch my enemy, but it
will do far more damage to the furniture of my own soul. After every
indulgence in vengeful passion some precious personal possession has been
destroyed. The fact of the matter is, this fire cannot be kept burning
without making fuel of the priceless furnishings of the soul. "Heat not a
furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself."

There must be a serene committal of the soul to the strong keeping of the
Eternal God. "_He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously._"
This is the way of peace, as this is the way of victory. If ever the enemy
is to be conquered this must be the mode of the conquest. When men
persecute us, let us rest more implicitly in our God.



MARCH The Thirty-first

_AT THE CROSS!_

MATTHEW xxvii. 38-50.


Let me listen to the ribald jeers which were flung upon my Lord. And let
me listen, not as a judge, but as one who has been in the company of the
callous crowd. For I, too, have mocked Him! I have said: "Hail, King!" and
I have bowed before Him, but it has been mock and empty homage! I have
sung: "Crown Him Lord of all!" but there has been no real recognition of
His sovereignty; mine has been a mock coronation. From the seat of the
mocker, deliver me, good Lord!

And let me stand near the cross while that awful voice of desolation rends
the heavens. "_My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?_" In that
agonizing cry I am led to the real heart of the atonement. My Saviour was
standing where His believers will never stand. That was the real death,
the death of an inconceivable abandonment. And "He died for me!" He so
died in order that I may never taste death. "He that liveth and believeth
in Me shall never die."

Every believer will go to sleep, and through a short sleep he will wake in
the glory of the Eternal Presence. But he will never die: no, never die!



APRIL The First

_THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS_

LUKE xxiii. 33-47.


Look at our Lord in relation to His foes. "_Father, forgive them; for they
know not what they do!_" Their bitterness has not embittered Him. The
"milk of human kindness" was still sweet. Nothing could sour our Lord, and
convert His goodwill into malice, His serene beneficence into wild
revenge. And how is it with me? Are my foes able to maim my spirit as well
as my body? Do they win their end by making me a smaller man? Or am I
magnanimous even on the cross?

And look at our Lord in relation to the penitent thief. "_To-day shalt
thou be with Me in Paradise._" There was no self-centredness in our
Saviour's grief. He was the good Physician, even when His body was mangled
on the cross. He healed a broken heart even in the very pangs of death.
When "there was darkness over all the earth," He let the light of the
morning into the heart of a desolate thief. And, good Lord, graciously
help me to do likewise!

And all this amazing graciousness is explained in our Lord's relation to
His Father. "_Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit!_" Yes,
everything is there! When I and My Father are one, my spirit will remain
sweet as the violet and pure as the dew.



APRIL The Second

"_ON HIM!_"

"_The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all._"
--ISAIAH liii.


Let me tell a dream which was given by night to one of my dearest friends.
He beheld a stupendous range of glorious sun-lit mountains, with their
lower slopes enfolded in white mist. "Lord," he cried, "I pray that I may
dwell upon those heights!" "Thou must first descend into the vale," a
voice replied.

Into the vale he went. And down there he found himself surrounded with all
manner of fierce, ugly, loathsome things. As he looked upon them he saw
that they were the incarnations of his own sins! There they were, sins
long ago committed, showing their threatening teeth before him!

Then he heard some One approaching, and instinctively he knew it was the
Lord! And he felt so ashamed that he drew a cloak over his face, and stood
in silence. And the Presence came nearer and nearer, until He, too, stood
silent. After a while my friend mastered sufficient courage to lift the
corner of his cloak and look out upon the Presence: and lo! all the
loathsome things were _on Him_!

"The Lord had laid on Him the iniquity of us all."



APRIL The Third

_THE STONE ROLLED AWAY_

MARK xvi. 1-8.


I am always wondering who will roll away the stone! There is a great
obstacle in the way, and my frailty is incompetent to its removal. And lo!
when I arrive at the place I find that the angel has been before me, and
the obstacle is gone! And I would that I might learn wisdom to-day from
the miracle of yesterday. Let me not be confounded about a new stone when
I know that my fears about the old one had no foundation.

And then the young man at the sepulchre! He is a type of eternal youth,
and he is sitting serenely in a routed grave. He represents the
unwithering in the very home of corruption. And this, too, is my hope! It
is mine in Christ to put on incorruption, and through a brief sleep to
become clothed with immortal youth. "There everlasting spring abides, and
never withering flowers!"

And I may have the assurance of the coming glory even now. Even now may I
taste the heavenly feast, and wear some of the unfading flowers of the
glorified. Yes, even now my leaf need not wither, and my hopes may remain
unshaken through all my troubled years.



APRIL The Fourth

_THE RESURRECTION MORNING_

MATTHEW xxviii. 1-15.


Let me reverently mark the happenings of this most wonderful morn. "_It
began to dawn._" Yes, that was the first significance of the resurrection.
It was a new day for the world. Everything was to be seen in a new light.
Everything was to wear a new face--God, and heaven, and life, and duty,
and death! "All things are become new."

"_And there was a great earthquake._" Yes, and this was significant of the
tremendous upheaval implied in the resurrection. The kingdom of the devil
was upheaved from its foundations. All the boasted pomp of his showy
empire was turned upside down. "I beheld Satan falling!"

"_And the angel rolled away the stone._" And that, too, is significant of
the resurrection. The awful barrier was rolled away, and the grave became
a thoroughfare! "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."

And there was "_fear and great joy_." And mingled awe and gladness, a
reverential delight.



APRIL The Fifth

_THE EMPTY TOMB_

LUKE xxiv. 1-12.


That empty tomb means the conquest of death. The Captive proved mightier
than the captor. He emerged from the prison as the Lord of the prison, and
death reeled at His going. In the risen Saviour death is dethroned; he
takes his place at the footstool to do the bidding of his sovereign Lord
and King. And that empty tomb means the conquest of sin. Sin had done its
worst, and had failed. All the forces of hell had been rallied against the
Lord, and above them all He rose triumphant and glorified. A little while
ago I discovered a spring. I tried to choke it. I heaped sand and gravel
upon it; I piled stones above it! And through them all it emerged,
noiselessly and irresistibly, a radiant resurrection!

And so the empty tomb becomes the symbol of a thoroughfare between life in
time and life in the unshadowed Presence of our God. Death is now like a
short tunnel which is near my home; I can look through it and see the
other side! In the risen Lord death becomes transparent. "O death, where
is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"



APRIL The Sixth

_FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST_

"_Last of all He was seen of me also._"
--1 CORINTHIANS xv. 1-11.


And by that vision Saul of Tarsus was transformed. And so, by the ministry
of a risen Lord we have received the gift of a transfigured Paul. The
resurrection glory fell upon him, and he was glorified. In that
superlative light he discovered his sin, his error, his need, but he also
found the dynamic of the immortal hope.

"Seen of me also!" Can I, too, calmly and confidently claim the
experience? Or am I altogether depending upon another man's sight, and are
my own eyes unillumined? In these realms the witness of "hear-says" counts
for nothing; he only speaks with arresting power who has "seen for
himself." "Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee
of Me?" That is the question which is asked, not only by the Master, but
by all who hear us tell the story of the risen Lord. "Has He been seen of
thee also?"

My Saviour, I humbly pray Thee to give me first-hand knowledge of Thee.
Let me be a witness who can say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth!" Before
all the doubts and hesitancies of man enable me to answer, "Have I not
seen Jesus Christ our Lord?"



APRIL The Seventh

_IF CHRIST WERE DEAD!_

1 CORINTHIANS xv. 12-26.


"_If Christ be not risen!_" That is the most appalling "if" which can be
flung into the human mind. If it obtains lodging and entertainment, all
the fairest hopes of the soul wither away like tender buds which have been
nipped by sharp frost! See how they fade!

"_Your faith is vain._" It has no more strength and permanency than
Jonah's gourd. Nay, it has really never been a living thing! It has been a
pathetic delusion, beautiful, but empty as a bubble, and collapsing at
Joseph's tomb.

"_Ye are yet in your sins._" The hope of forgiveness and reconciliation is
stricken, and there is nothing left but "a certain fearful looking-for of
judgment." Nemesis has only been hiding behind a screen of decorated
falsehoods, and she will pursue us to the bitter end.

"_We are of all men the most miserable._" Joy would fall and die like a
fatally wounded lark. The song would cease from our souls. The holy place
would become a tomb.

"But now _is_ Christ risen from the dead!" Yes, let me finish on that
word. That gives me morning, and melody, and holy merriment that knows no
end.



April The Eighth

_MY INHERITANCE IN THE RISEN LORD_

1 PETER i. 1-9.


In my risen Lord I am born into "a living hope," a hope not only vital,
but vitalizing, sending its mystic, vivifying influences through every
highway and by-way of my soul.

In my risen Lord mine is "_an inheritance incorruptible_." It is not
exposed to the gnawing tooth of time. Moth and rust can not impair the
treasure. It will not grow less as I grow old. Its glories are as
invulnerable as my Lord.

In my risen Lord mine is "an inheritance ... _undefiled_." There is no
alloy in the fine gold. The King will give me of His best. "Bring forth
the best robe, and put it on him." The holiest ideal proclaims my
possibility, and foretells my ultimate attainment. Heaven's wine is not to
be mixed with water. I am to awake "in His likeness."

And mine is "an inheritance ... that _fadeth not away_." It shall not be
as the garlands offered by men--green to-day and to-morrow sere and
yellow. "Its leaf also shall not wither." It shall always retain its
freshness, and shall offer me a continually fresh delight. And these are
all mine in Him!

    "Thou, O Christ, art all I want."



APRIL The Ninth

_THE EVER-LIVING LORD_

REVELATION i. 9-18.


Let me take the simple words, and quietly gaze into the wonderful depths
of their fathomless simplicity. An old villager used to tell me it would
strengthen my eyes if I looked long into deep wells. And it will assuredly
strengthen the eyes of my soul to gaze into wells like these.

"_I am He that liveth._" What a marvellous transformation it worked upon
Dr. Dale, when one day, in his study, it flashed upon him, as never
before, that Jesus Christ is alive! "Christ is alive!" he repeated again
and again, until the clarion music filled all the rooms in his soul.
"Christ is alive!"

"_And was dead._" Yes, the Lord has gone right through that dark place.
There are footprints, and they are the footprints of the Conqueror, all
along the road. "Christ leads me through no darker room than He went
through before."

"_And, behold, I am alive for ever more._" "Jesus has conquered death and
all its powers." Never more will it sit on a transient throne. Its power
is broken, its "sting" has lost its poison, there isn't a boast left in
its apparently omnivorous mouth! "Where's thy victory, O grave?" And here
is the gospel for me--"Because I live ye shall live also."



APRIL The Tenth

_RESURRECTION-LIGHT_

"_If we believe that Jesus died and rose again...._"
--1 THESSALONIANS iv. 13-18.


That is the eastern light which fills the valley of time with wonderful
beams of glory. It is the great dawn in which we find the promise of our
own day. Everything wears a new face in the light of our Lord's
resurrection. I once watched the dawn on the East Coast of England. Before
there was a grey streak in the sky everything was held in grimmest gloom.
The toil of the two fishing-boats seemed very sombre. The sleeping houses
on the shore looked the abodes of death. Then came grey light, and then
the sun, and everything was transfigured! Every window in every cottage
caught the reflected glory, and the fishing-boats glittered in morning
radiance.

And everything is transfigured in the Risen Christ. Everything is lit up
when "the Sun of Righteousness arises with healing in His wings." Life is
lit up, and so is death, and so are sorrow and daily labour and human
friendships! Everything catches the gleam and is changed. "We are no
longer of the night, but of the day." "Walk as children of light." "Awake,
thou that sleepest, arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon
thee."



APRIL The Eleventh

_THROUGH DEATH TO LIFE_

ROMANS v. 1-11.


The Lord went through death to make a path to life. He descended into
shame and suffering, and appalling desolation in order that He might "open
the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers." And the way is now open!

Therefore, "_let us have peace with God_." Let us reverently and willingly
tread the heavenly road, and seek the King's presence, and gratefully
accept "the everlasting covenant." Let us go, as once rebel soldiers, and
let us surrender our arms, and at His bidding take them again, to fight in
His service.

And let us "_glory in tribulation_." If we are in the King's road, at
peace with the King, every stormy circumstance will be made to do us
service. Yes, all our troubles will be compelled to minister to us, to
robe us, and to adorn us, and to make us more like the sons and daughters
of a royal house. "Out of the eater will come forth meat, and out of the
strong will come forth sweetness."

And, therefore, let us "_joy in God_." Don't let us be "the King's own,"
and yet march in the sulks! Let us march to the music of grateful song and
praise.

    "Children of the heavenly King,
     As ye journey, sweetly sing."



APRIL The Twelfth

_THE LAMB ON THE THRONE_

"_In the midst of the throne stood a Lamb as it had been slain!_"
--REVELATION v. 6-14.


How strange and unexpected is the figure! A lamb--the supreme type of
gentleness! A throne, the supreme symbol of power! And the one is in the
very midst of the other. The sacrificial has become the sovereign: the
Cross is the principal part of the throne. "I, if I be lifted up, will
draw all men unto Me."

Yes, this sovereign sacrificial Lord is to receive universal homage and
worship. "_Every creature which is in heaven and on the earth_" is to pay
tribute at His feet. And this, not by a terrible coercion, but by a
gracious constraint. We are not to be driven, we are to be drawn; we are
to move by love--compulsion: the Lamb in God is to win the wills of men.

And I, too, may take my harp and make melodious praise before my King. And
I, too, may fill the "golden vials" with my grateful intercession, and
heaven shall be the sweeter for the odour of my prayers. And I, too, may
sound my loud "Amen," the note of gladsome resignation to the sovereign
will of God. Yes, even now I may be one of "the multitude whom no man can
number," who, in a new song, ascribe all worthiness to "the Lamb that was
slain."



APRIL The Thirteenth

_PURE GOLD_

"_Thou shalt overlay it with pure gold....
And there I will meet with thee._"
--EXODUS xxv. 10-22.


I must put my best into my preparations, and then the Lord will honour my
work. My part is to be of "pure gold" if my God is to dwell within it. I
must not satisfy myself with cheap flimsy and then assume that the Lord
will be satisfied with it. He demands my very best as a condition of His
enriching Presence.

My prayers must be of "pure gold" if He is to meet me there. There must be
nothing vulgar about them, nothing shoddy, nothing hastily constructed,
nothing thrown up anyhow. They must be chaste and sincere, and overlaid
with pure gold.

My home must be of "pure gold" if He is to meet me there. No unclean
passion must dwell there, no carnal appetite, no defiling conversation, no
immoderateness in eating and drinking. How can the Lord sit down at such a
table, or make One at such a fireside?

Let me present to Him pure gold. Let me offer Him nothing cheap. Let me
ever make the ark of my best, and the Lord will meet me there.



APRIL The Fourteenth

_RELIGION AS MERE MAGIC_

"_And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into
the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout._"
--1 SAMUEL iv. 1-11.


They were making more of the ark than of the Lord. Their religion was
degenerating into superstition. I become superstitious whenever the means
of worship are permitted to eclipse the Object of worship. I then possess
a magic instrument, and I forget the holy Lord.

It can be so with prayer. I may use prayer as a magic minister to protect
me from invasive ills. I do not pray because I desire fellowship with the
Father, but because I should not feel safe without it. The ark is more
than the Lord.

It can be so with a crucifix. A crucifix may become a mere talisman, and
so supplant the Lord. I may wear the thing and have no fellowship with the
Person. And so may it be with the Lord's Supper. I may come to regard it
as a magic feast, which makes me immune from punishment, but not immune
from sin. It may be a minister of safety, but not of holiness.

So let mine eyes be ever unto the Lord! Let me not be satisfied with the
ark, but let me seek Him whose name is holy and whose nature is love.



APRIL The Fifteenth

_DEGRADING HOLY THINGS_

1 SAMUEL vi. 1-15.


I must remember that a holy thing can be the minister of a plague. Things
that were purposed to be benedictions can be changed into blights. The
very ark of God must be in its appointed place or it becomes the means of
sickness and destruction. So it is with all the holy things of God: if I
dethrone them they will uncrown me.

It is even so with music. Unless I give it its holy sovereignty it will
become a minister of the passions, and the angel within me is mastered by
a beast. Let me read again Tennyson's "Palace of Sin," and let me
heedfully note how music becomes the instrument of ignoble sensationalism,
and aids in man's degradation. "But exalt her, and she shall exalt thee."

It is even so with art. It is purposed to be the holy dwelling-place of
God, but I can so abuse it as to make it the agent of degradation. Instead
of hallowing the life it will debase and impoverish it.

I will therefore remember that, if I infringe the Divine order, I can turn
the sacramental cup into a vehicle of moral poison and spiritual blight.
"They must be holy who bear the vessels of the Lord."



APRIL The Sixteenth

_PRIESTS OF THE LORD_

"_None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites._"
--1 CHRONICLES xv. 1-3, 11-15.


There are prepared people for prepared offices. The Lord will fit the man
to the function, the anointed and consecrated priest for the consecrated
and consecrating ministry.

But now, in the larger purpose of the Lord, and in "the exceeding riches
of His grace," everybody may be a priest of the Lord. "He hath made us to
be priests and kings unto God." And He will prepare us to carry our ark,
and to "minister in holy things."

I can be His priest in the home. He will anoint me as one who is to engage
in holy ministries, and I shall be serving at the altar even while engaged
in the lowly duties of the house. The humble meal will be sacramental, and
common work will be heavenly sacrifice.

I can be His priest in my class. The Lord will clothe me in "linen clean
and white," and in my consecrated spirit my scholars shall discern the
incense of sacrifice. And woe is me if I attempt to fill the godly office
without my God.

And I can be His priest in my workshop. Yes, in the carpenter's shop I may
wear the radiant robe of the sanctified. And I, too, as one of the priests
of the Lord, can "bear the sin of many, and make intercession for the
transgressor."



APRIL The Seventeenth

_GREAT PRAISE_

1 CHRONICLES xvi. 7-36.


"Great is the Lord!" So many people have such a little God! There is
nothing about Him august and sublime. And so He is not greatly praised.
The worship is thin, the thanksgivings are scanty, the supplications are
indifferent.

All great saints have a great God. He fills their universe. Therefore do
they move about in a fruitful awe, and everywhere there is only a thin
veil between them and His appearing. Everywhere they discern His holy
presence, as the face of a bride is dimly seen beneath her bridal veil.
And so even the common scrub of the wilderness is aflame with sacred fire:
the humble "primrose on the rock" becomes "the court of Deity": and the
"strength of the hills is His also"!

Yes, a great God inspires great praise, and in great praise small cares
and small meannesses are utterly consumed away. When praise is mean,
anxieties multiply. Therefore let me contemplate the greatness of God in
nature and in providence, in His power, and His holiness, and His love.
Let me "stand in awe" before His glory: and in the fruitful reverence the
soul will be moved in acceptable praise.



APRIL The Eighteenth

_MECHANICAL PIETY_

PHILEMON 10-18.


The Apostle Paul declares that benefits may be given in one of two
ways--"_of necessity_" and "_willingly_." One is mechanical, the other is
spontaneous. I once saw a little table-fountain playing in a drawing-room,
but I heard the click of its machinery, and the charm was gone! It had to
be wound up before it would play, and at frequent periods it "ran down." A
little later I saw another fountain playing on a green lawn, and it was
fed from the deep secret resources of the hills!

There is a generosity which is like the drawing-room fountain. If you
listen you can hear the mechanical click, and a sound of friction, arising
from murmuring and complaint. And there is a generosity which is like the
fountain that is the child of the hills. It is clear, and sweet, and
musical, and flows on through every season! One is "of necessity"; the
other is "willingly." And "God loveth a cheerful giver."

And prayer can be of the same two contrary orders. One prayer is
mechanical, it is hard, formal, metallic. The other is spontaneous,
forceful, and irresistible. Listen to the Pharisee--"Lord, I thank Thee
that I am not as other men are." It is the click of the machine! Listen to
the publican--"God be merciful to me, a sinner!" It is the voice of the
deeps.



APRIL The Ninteenth

_UNION IN HARMONY_

"_Be ye all of one mind._"
--1 PETER iii. 8-17.


But this is not unison: it is harmony. When an orchestra produces some
great musical masterpiece, the instruments are all of one mind, but each
makes its own individual contribution. There is variety with concordance:
each one serves every other, and the result is glorious harmony. "By love
serve one another." It is love that converts membership into fraternity:
it is love that binds sons and daughters into a family.

Look at a field of wild-flowers. What a harmony of colour! And yet what a
variety of colours! Nothing out of place, but no sameness! All drawing
resource from the same soil, and breathing the vitalizing substance from
the same air!

"And ye, being rooted and grounded in love," will grow up, a holy family
in the Lord. If love be the common ground the varieties in God's family
may be infinite!

And so the unity which the apostle seeks is a unity of mood and
disposition. It is not a unity which repeats the exact syllables of a
common creed, but a unity which is built of common trust, and love, and
hope. It is not sameness upon the outer lips, but fellowship in the secret
place.



APRIL The Twentieth

_THE JOY OF THE LOVER_

ROMANS xii. 9-18.


Love finds her joy in seeing others crowned. Envy darkens when she sees
the garland given to another. Jealousy has no festival except when she is
"Queen of the May." But love thrills to another's exaltation. She feels
the glow of another's triumph. When another basks in favour her own "time
of singing of birds is come!"

And all this is because love has wonderful chords which vibrate to the
secret things in the souls of others. Indeed, the gift of love is just the
gift of delicate correspondence, the power of exquisite fellow-feeling,
the ability to "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and to weep with them
that weep." When, therefore, the soul of another is exultant, and the
wedding-bells are ringing, love's kindred bells ring a merry peal. When
the soul of another is depressed, and a funeral dirge is wailing, love's
kindred chords wail in sad communion. So love can enter another's state as
though it were her own.

Our Master spake condemningly of those who have lost this exquisite gift.
They have lost their power of response. "We have piped with you, and ye
have not danced; we have mourned with you, and ye have not lamented." They
lived in selfish and loveless isolation. They have lost all power of
tender communion.



APRIL The Twenty-first

_LOVE AS THE GREAT MAGICIAN_

1 JOHN ii. 1-11.


A new commandment! And yet it is an old one with a new meaning. It is the
old water-pot, but its water has been changed into wine. It is the old
letter with a new spirit. It is the old body with a new soul. Love makes
all things new! It changes duty into delight, and statutes into songs.

What a magic difference love makes to a face. It at once becomes a face
illumined. Love makes the plainest face winsome and attractive. It adds
the light of heaven, and the earthly is transfigured. No cosmetics are
needed when love is in possession. She will do her own beautifying work,
and everybody will know her sign.

What a magic difference love makes in service! The hireling goes about his
work with heavy and reluctant feet: the lover sings and dances at his
toil. The hireling scamps his work: the lover is always adding another
touch, and is never satisfied. Just one more touch! And just another! And
so on until the good God shall say that loving "patience has had her
perfect work."

Love lights up everything, for she is the light of life. Let her dwell in
the soul, and every room in the life shall be filled with the glory of the
Lord.



APRIL The Twenty-second

_SPEECH AS A SYMPTOM OF HEALTH_

"_The tongue of the wise is health._"
--PROVERBS xii. 13-22.


Our doctors often test our physical condition by the state of our tongue.
With another and deeper significance the tongue is also the register of
our condition. Our words are a perfect index of our moral and spiritual
health. If our words are unclean and untrue, our souls are assuredly
sickly and diseased. A perverse tongue is never allied with a sanctified
heart. And, therefore, everyone may apply a clinical test to his own life:
"What is the character of my speech? What do my words indicate? What do
they suggest as to the depths and background of the soul?" "By thy words
thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

God delighteth in truthful lips. Right words are fruit from the tree of
life. The Lord turns away from falsehood as we turn away from material
corruption, only with an infinitely intenser loathing and disgust.

It is only the lips that have been purified with flame from the holy altar
of God that can offer words that are pleasing unto Him.

    "Take my lips and let them be
     Filled with messages from Thee."



APRIL The Twenty-third

_MASCULINE FORGIVENESS_

COLOSSIANS iii. 12-17.


True forgiveness is a very strong and clean and masculine virtue. There is
a counterfeit forgiveness which is unworthy of the name. It is full of
"buts," and "ifs," and "maybes," and "peradventures." It moves with
reluctance, it offers with averted face, it takes back with one hand what
it gives with the other. It forgives, but it "cannot forget." It forgives,
but it "can never trust again." It forgives, but "things can never be the
same as they were." What kind of forgiveness is this? It is the mercy of
the police-court. It is the remission of penalty, not the glorious
"abandon" of grace! It is a cold "Don't do it again," not the weeping and
compassionate goodwill of the Lord.

"_Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye._" That is to be our motive,
and that is to be our measure. We are to forgive _because_ Christ forgave
us. The glorious memory of His grace is to make us gracious. His tender,
healing words to us are to redeem our speech from all harshness. In the
contemplation of His cross we are to become "partakers of His sufferings,"
and by the shedding of our own blood help to close and heal the alienation
of the world.

And we are to forgive _as_ Christ forgave us. Resentment is to be changed
into frank goodwill, and filled with the grace of the Lord.



APRIL The Twenty-fourth

LIMITED FORGIVENESS

LUKE xvii. 3-10.


We are always inclined to set a limit to our moral obligations. We wish,
as we say, "to draw a line somewhere." We want to appoint a definite place
where obligation ceases, and where the moral strain may be released. The
Apostle Peter wished his Master to draw such a line in the matter of
forgiveness. "Lord, how oft shall I forgive? Till seven times?" He wanted
a tiny moral rule which he could apply to his brother's conduct.

Not so the Lord. Our Master tells His disciple that in those spiritual
realms relations are not governed by arithmetic. We cannot, by counting,
measure off our obligations. Our repeated acts of forgiveness never bring
us nearer to the freedom of revenge. No amount of sweetness will ever
permit us to be bitter. We cannot, by being good, obtain a license to be
evil. The fact of the matter is, if our goodness is of genuine quality,
every act will more strongly dispose us to further goodness. It is the
counterfeit element in our goodness that inclines us to the opposite camp.
It is when our forgiveness is tainted that we anticipate the "sweetness"
of revenge.



APRIL The Twenty-fifth

_THE HIDDEN FOES_

MATTHEW v. 21-26.


Our Lord always leads us to the secret, innermost roots of things. He does
not concern Himself with symptoms, but with causes. He does not begin with
the molten lava flowing down the fair mountain slope and destroying the
vineyards. He begins with the central fires in which the lava is born. He
does not begin with uncleanness. He begins with the thoughts which produce
it. He does not begin with murder, but with the anger which causes it. He
pierces to the secret fires!

Now, all anger is not of sin. The Apostle Paul enjoins his readers to "be
angry, and sin not." To be altogether incapable of anger would be to offer
no antagonism to the wrongs and oppressions of the world. "Who is made to
stumble, and I burn not?" cries the Apostle Paul. If wrong stalked abroad
with heedless feet he burned with holy passion. There is anger which is
like clean flame, clear and pure, as "the sea of glass mingled with fire."
And there is anger which is like a smoky bonfire, and it pollutes while it
destroys.

It is the unclean anger which is of sin. It seeks revenge, not
righteousness. It seeks "to get its own back," not to get the wrong-doer
back to God. It follows wrong with further wrong. It spreads the devil's
fire.



APRIL The Twenty-sixth

_GOLIATH VERSUS GOD!_

1 SAMUEL xvii. 1-11.


Goliath seemed to have everything on his side _except_ God. And the things
in which he boasted were just the things in which men are prone to boast
to-day.

He had physical strength. "His height was six cubits and a span."
Athletics had done all they could for him, and he was a fine type of
animal perfection.

He had splendid military equipment. "A helmet of brass," and "a coat of
mail," and "a spear like a weaver's beam!" Surely, if fine material
equipment determines combats, the shepherd-lad from the hills of Bethlehem
will be annihilated.

And he enjoyed the enthusiastic confidence of the Philistines. He was his
nation's pride and glory! He strode out amid their shouts, and the cheers
were like iron in his blood.

But all this counted for nothing, because God was against him. Men and
nations may attain to a fine animalism, their warlike equipment may
satisfy the most exacting standard, and yet, with God against them, they
shall be as structures woven out of mists, and they shall collapse at the
touch of apparent weakness. The issue was not Goliath versus David, but
Goliath versus God!



APRIL The Twenty-seventh

_OBSCURE BIRTHPLACES_

1 SAMUEL xvii. 12-27.


God's champion is at present feeding sheep! Who would have expected that
Goliath's antagonist would emerge from the quiet pastures? "Genius hatches
her offspring in strange places." Very humble homes are the birthplaces of
mighty emancipations.

There was a little farm at St. Ives, and the farmer lived a quiet and
unsensational life. But the affairs of the nation became more and more
confused and threatening. Monarchical power despoiled the people's
liberties, and tyranny became rampant. And out from the little farm strode
Oliver Cromwell, the ordained of God, to emancipate his country.

There was an obscure rectory at Epworth. The doings in the little rectory
were just the quiet practices of similar homes in countless parts of
England. And England was becoming brutalized, because its religious life
was demoralized. The Church was asleep, and the devil was wide awake! And
forth from the humble rectory strode John Wesley, the appointed champion
of the Lord to enthuse, to purify, and to sweeten the life of the people.

On what quiet farm is the coming deliverer now labouring? Who knows?



APRIL The Twenty-eighth

_PREPARING FOR GREAT ENCOUNTERS_

1 SAMUEL xvii. 28-37.


This young champion of the Lord had won many victories before he faced
Goliath. Everything depends on how I approach my supreme conflicts. If I
have been careless in smaller combats I shall fail in the larger. If I
come, wearing the garlands of triumph won in the shade, the shout of
victory is already in the air! Let me look at David's trophies before he
removed Goliath's head.

He had conquered his temper. Read Eliab's irritating taunt in the
twenty-eighth verse, and mark the fine self-possession of the young
champion's reply! That conquest of temper helped him when he took aim at
Goliath! There is nothing like passion for disturbing the accuracy of the
eye and the steadiness of the hand.

He had conquered fear. "_Let no man's heart fail because of him._" There
was no panic, there was no feverish and wasteful excitement. There was no
shouting "to keep the spirits up!" He was perfectly calm.

And he had conquered unbelief. He had a rich history of the providential
dealings of God with him, and his confidence was now unclouded and serene.
He had known the Lord's power when he faced the bear and the lion. Now for
Goliath!



APRIL The Twenty-ninth

_THE MOOD OF TRIUMPH_

"_I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts._"
--1 SAMUEL xvii. 38-54.


The man who comes up to his foes with this assurance will fight and win.
Reasonable confidence is one of the most important weapons in the
warrior's armoury. Fear is always wasteful. The man who calmly expects to
win has already begun to conquer. Our mood has so much to do with our
might. And therefore does the Word of God counsel us to attend to our
dispositions, lest, having carefully collected our material implements, we
have no strength to use them.

And the man who comes up to his foes with holy assurance will fight with
consummate skill. He will be quite "collected." All his powers will wait
upon one another, and they will move together as one. He is as
self-possessed upon the battlefield as upon parade, as undisturbed before
Goliath as before a flock of sheep! And therefore do I say that, fighting
with perfect composure, he fights with superlative skill. The right moment
is seized, the right stone is chosen, the right aim is taken, and great
Goliath is brought low.



APRIL The Thirtieth

_THE TEST OF VICTORY_

"_David behaveth himself wisely._"
--1 SAMUEL xvii. 55--xviii. 5.


The hour of victory is a more severe moral test than the hour of defeat.
Many a man can brave the perils of adversity who succumbs to the
seductions of prosperity. He can stand the cold better than the heat! He
is enriched by failure, but "spoilt by success." To test the real quality
of a man, let us regard him just when he has slain Goliath! "David behaved
himself wisely"!

He was not "eaten up with pride." He developed no "side." He went among
his friends as though no Goliath had ever crossed his way. He was not for
ever recounting the triumph, and fishing for the compliments of his
audience. He "behaved wisely." So many of us tarnish our victories by the
manner in which we display them. We put them into the shop-window, and
they become "soiled goods."

And in this hour of triumph David made a noble friend. In his noonday he
found Jonathan, and their hearts were knit to each other in deep and
intimate love. It is beautiful when our victories are so nobly borne that
they introduce us into higher fellowships, and the friends of heaven
become our friends.



MAY The First

_THE CONDITIONS OF SERENITY_

PSALM cxxiv.


If I would be like the Psalmist, I must _clearly recognize my perils_. He
sees the "waters," the "proud waters." He beholds the "enemy," and his
"wrath," and his "teeth." He sees "the fowler" with his snare! I must not
shut my eyes, and "make my judgment blind." One of the gifts of grace is
the spirit of discernment, the eyes which not only detect hidden treasure,
but hidden foes. The devil is an expert in mimicry; he can make himself
look like an angel of light. And so must I be able to discover his snares,
even when they appear as the most seductive food.

And if I would be like the Psalmist, I must _clearly recognize my great
Ally_. "If it has not been the Lord, who was on our side!" To see the Ally
on the perilous field, and to see Him on my side, gives birth to holy
confidence and song. "The Lord is on my side, whom shall I fear?" I must
make sure of the Ally, and "victory is secure."

And if I would be like the Psalmist, I must not omit the doxology of
praise. When the prayer is answered, I am apt to forget the praise. My
thanksgivings are not so ready as my requests. And so the apparently
conquered enemy steals in again at the door of an ungrateful heart.



May The Second

_THE HAPPY WARRIOR_

EPHESIANS vi. 10-18.


Here is a portrait of the happy warrior! Let me first look at the warrior,
and then at the implements with which he fights.

"You cannot fight the French merely with red uniforms; there must be men
inside them!" So said Thomas Carlyle. Well, look at this man.
"_Strengthened in the Lord, and in the power of His might._" There is a
secret communion with the Almighty, and he draws his resources from the
Infinite. The water in my home comes from the Welsh hills; every drop was
gathered on those grand and expansive uplands. And this man's soldierly
strength is drawn from the hills of God; every ounce of his fighting blood
comes from the veins of the Lord.

And mark the nature of his armoury. His weapons are dispositions. He
fights with "truth," and "righteousness," and "peace," and "faith," and
"prayer"! There are no implements like these. A sword will fail where a
courtesy will prevail. We can kill our enemies by kindness. And as for the
devil himself there is nothing like a grace-filled disposition for putting
him to flight! A prayerful disposition can drive him off any field, at any
hour of the day or night. "Put on the whole armour of God."



May The Third

_OTHER GODS!_

"_Thou shalt have no other gods before Me._"
--EXODUS xx. 1-11.


If we kept that commandment all the other commandments would be obeyed. If
we secure this queen-bee we are given the swarm. To put nothing "before"
God! What is left in the circle of obedience? God first, always and
everywhere. Nothing allowed to usurp His throne for an hour! I was once
allowed to sit on an earthly throne for a few seconds, but even that is
not to be allowed with the throne of God. Nothing is to share His
sovereignty, even for a moment. His dominion is to be unconditional and
unbroken. "Thou shalt have no other gods beside Me."

But we have many gods we set upon His throne. We put money there, and
fame, and pleasure, and ease. Yes, we sometimes usurp God's throne, and we
ourselves dare to sit there for days, and weeks, and years, at a time.
Self is the idol, and we enthrone it, and we fall down and worship it. But
no peace comes from such sovereignty, and no deep and vital joy. For the
real King is not dead, and He is out and about, and our poor little
monarchy is as the reign of the midge on a summer's night. Our real
kingship is in the acknowledgment of the King of kings. When we worship
Him, and Him only, He will ask us to sit on His throne.



MAY The Fourth

_A HEALTHY PALATE_

"_How sweet are Thy words unto my taste._"
--PSALM cxix. 97-104.


Some people like one thing, and some another. Some people appreciate the
bitter olive; others feel it to be nauseous. Some delight in the sweetest
grapes; others feel the sweetness to be sickly. It is all a matter of
palate. Some people love the Word of the Lord; to others the reading of it
is a dreary task. To some the Bible is like a vineyard; to others it is
like a dry and tasteless meal. One takes the word of the Master, and it is
"as honey to the mouth"; to another the same word is as unwelcome as a
bitter drug. It is all a matter of palate.

But what is a man to do who has got a perverted palate, and who calls
sweet things bitter and bitter things sweet? He must get a new mouth! And
where is he to get it? Not by any ministry of his own creation; his own
endeavours will be impotent. A healthy moral palate depends upon the
purity of the heart. Our spiritual discernments are all determined by the
state of the soul. If the heart be pure, the mouth will be clean, and we
shall love God's law. If the soul-appetite be healthy, God's words will be
sweet unto our taste. And so does the good Lord give us new palates by
giving us new hearts. "Create within us clean hearts, O God, and renew
right spirits within us."



MAY The Fifth

_HEALTHY LISTENING_

"_Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only._"
--JAMES i. 21-27.


When we hear the word, but do not do it, there has been a defect in our
hearing. We may listen to the word for mere entertainment. Or we may
attach a virtue to the mere act of listening to the word. We may assume
that some magical efficacy belongs to the mere reading of the word. And
all this is perverse and delusive. No listening is healthy which is not
mentally referred to obedience. We are to listen _with a view to
obedience_, with our eyes upon the very road where the obedient feet will
travel. That is to say, we are to listen with purpose, as though we were
Ambassadors receiving instructions from the King concerning some momentous
mission. Yes, we must listen with an eye on the road.

"Doing" makes a new thing of "hearing." The statute obeyed becomes a song.
The commandment is found to be a beatitude. The decree discloses riches of
grace. The hidden things of God are not discovered until we are treading
the path of obedience. "And it came to pass that as he went he received
his sight." In the way of obedience the blind man found a new world. God
has wonderful treasures for the dutiful. The faithful discover the "hidden
manna."



MAY The Sixth

_THE PERFECTING OF LOVE_

"_Herein is our love made perfect._"
--1 JOHN iv. 11-21.


How? By dwelling in God and God in us. Love is not a manufacture; it is a
fruit. It is not born of certain works; it springs out of certain
relations. It does not come from doing something; it comes from living
with Somebody. "Abide in Me." That is how love is born, for "love is of
God, and God is love."

How many people are striving who are not abiding. They live in a
manufactory, they do not live in a home. They are trying to make something
instead of to know Somebody. "This is life, to know Thee." When I am
related to the Lord Jesus, when I dwell with Him, love is as surely born
as beauty and fragrance are born when my garden and the spring-time dwell
together. If we would only wisely cultivate the fellowship of Jesus,
everything else would follow in its train--all that gracious succession of
beautiful things which are called "the fruits of the Spirit."

And "herein is our love made perfect." It is always growing richer,
because it is always drawing riches from the inexhaustible love of God.
How could it be otherwise? Endless resource must mean endless growth. "Our
life is hid with Christ in God," and hence our love will "grow in all
wisdom and discernment."



MAY The Seventh

_IN THE WAYS OF OBEDIENCE_

PSALM xix. 7-14.


Let me listen to the exquisite chimes of this wonderful psalm as they ring
out the blessedness of the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord.
What shall he find in the ways of obedience?

He shall find restoration. "Restoring the soul." He shall find new stores
of food along the way. In every emergency he shall find fresh provision;
every new need shall discover new supplies. When one store is spent,
another shall take its place. "Thou re-storest my soul." In the ways of
righteousness the good Lord has appointed ample stores for the provision
of all His faithful pilgrims.

He shall find joy. "Rejoicing the heart." In the way of obedience there
shall be springs of delight as well as stores of provision. "With joy
shall ye draw waters out of the wells of salvation." Fountains of
delicious satisfaction rise in the realm of duty, the satisfaction of
being right with God, and in union with the eternal will. There is no day
without its spring, and "the joy of the Lord is our strength."

He shall find vision. "Enlightening the eyes." The eyes of the obedient
are anointed with the eye-salve of grace, and wondrous panoramas break
upon the sight. Visions of grace! Visions of love! Visions of glory!



MAY The Eighth

_HOW NOT TO FORGET_

DEUTERONOMY xi. 18-25.


If we wish to retain "the word of the Lord" everything depends upon where
we keep it. If we just keep it in the mind, a leaky memory may waste the
treasure. A Chinese convert declared that he found the best way to
remember the word was to do it! The engraved word became character,
written upon the fleshy tables of the heart. He incarnated the word, and
it became a vital part of his own personality. He lived it and it lived in
him. The word became flesh. This is the only really vital "way of
remembrance," to convert the word into the primary stuff of the life.

There is a secondary way by which we may help our apprehension of God's
word. "Ye shall teach them." Our hold upon a truth is increased while we
impart it to others. The gospel becomes more vivid as we proclaim it to
our fellow-men. We see it while we explain it. It grips us the more firmly
as we use it to grip our children. This is a great law in life. In these
matters it is literally true that memory best retains what she gives away.
A truth that is never shared is never really possessed. The word that we
teach becomes rooted in our own mind.



MAY The Ninth

_LOVING THE LORD_

LUKE x. 21-28.


The secret of life is to love the Lord our God, and our neighbours as
ourselves. But how are we to love the Lord? We cannot manufacture love. We
cannot love to order. We cannot by an act of will command its appearing.
No, not in these ways is love created. Love is not a work, it is a fruit.
It grows in suitable soils, and it is our part to prepare the soils. When
the conditions are congenial, love appears, just as the crocus and the
snowdrop appear in the congenial air of the spring.

What, then, can we do? We can seek the Lord's society. We can think about
Him. We can read about Him. We can fill our imaginations with the grace of
His life and service. We can be much with Him, talking to Him in prayer,
singing to Him in praise, telling Him our yearnings and confessing to Him
our defeats. And love will be quietly born. For this is how love is born
between heart and heart. Two people are "much together," and love is born!
And when we are much with the Lord, we are with One who already loves us
with an everlasting love. We are with One who yearns for our love and who
seeks in every way to win it. "We love Him because He first loved us." And
when we truly love God, every other kind of holy love will follow. Given
the fountain, the rivers are sure.



MAY The Tenth

_GOD'S USE OF MEN_

"_I have surely seen the affliction of My people ...
come now, therefore, I will send thee._"
--EXODUS iii. 1-14.


Does that seem a weak ending to a powerful beginning? The Lord God looks
upon terrible affliction and He sends a weak man to deal with it. Could He
not have sent fire from heaven? Could He not have rent the heavens and
sent His ministers of calamity and disasters? Why choose a man when the
arch-angel Gabriel stands ready at obedience?

This is the way of the Lord. He uses human means to divine ends. He works
through man to the emancipation of men. He pours His strength into a worm,
and it becomes "an instrument with teeth." He stiffens a frail reed and it
becomes as an iron pillar.

And this mighty God will use thee and me. On every side there are Egypts
where affliction abounds, there are homes where ignorance breeds, there
are workshops where tyranny reigns, there are lands where oppression is
rampant. "Come now, therefore, I will send thee." Thus saith the Lord, and
He who gives the command will also give the equipment.



MAY The Eleventh

_BUT----!_

"_And Moses answered and said, But_----"
--EXODUS iv. 1-9.


We know that "but." God has heard it from our lips a thousand times. It is
the response of unbelief to the divine call. It is the reply of fear to
the divine command. It is the suggestion that the resources are
inadequate. It is a hint that God may not have looked all round. He has
overlooked something which our own eyes have seen. The human "buts" in the
Scriptural stories make an appalling record.

"Lord, I will follow Thee, but----" There is something else to be attended
to before discipleship can begin. Obedience is not primary: it must wait
for something else. And so our obedience is not a straight line: it is
crooked and circuitous; it takes the way of by-path meadow instead of the
highway of the Lord. We do not wait upon the Lord's pleasure; we make Him
wait upon ours.

There need be no "buts" in our relationship to the King's will. Everything
has been foreseen. Nothing will take the Lord by surprise. The entire
field has been surveyed, and the preparations are complete. When the Lord
says to thee or me, "I will send thee," every provision has been made for
the appointed task. "I will not fail thee."



MAY The Twelfth

_MOUTH AND MATTER_

"_Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth._"
--EXODUS iv. 10-17.


And what a promise that is for anyone who is commissioned to proclaim the
King's decrees. Here can teachers and preachers find their strength. God
will be with their mouths. He will control their speech, and order their
words like troops. He does not promise to make us eloquent, but to endow
our words with the "demonstration of power."

"_And I will teach thee what thou shall say._" The Lord will not only be
with our mouths, but with our minds. He will guide our thoughts as well as
our words. He will be as sentinel at the lips. He will be our guide in our
processes of meditation and judgment, and He will bring us to enlightened
ends. All of which is just this: He will give us mouth and matter.

This does not put a premium upon idleness. The Lord guides when men are
honestly groping. He gives us fire when we have built the altar. He works
His miracle when we have provided the five loaves. He sends His light
through diligent thinking. The divine power is given through the
consecrated strength.



MAY The Thirteenth

_COMMONPLACE FIDELITIES_

EXODUS ii. 11-25.


God prepares us for the greater crusades by more commonplace fidelities.
Through the practice of common kindnesses God leads us to chivalrous
tasks. Little courtesies feed nobler reverences. No man can despise
smaller duties and do the larger duties well. Our strength is sapped by
small disobediences. Our discourtesies to one another impair our worship
of God. The neglect of the "pointing" of a house may lead to dampness and
fatal disease.

And thus the only way to live is by filling every moment with fidelity. We
are ready for anything when we have been faithful in everything. "Because
thou hast been faithful in that which is least!" That is the order in
moral and spiritual progress, and that is the road by which we climb to
the seats of the mighty. When every stone in life is "well and truly laid"
we are sure of a solid, holy temple in which the Lord will delight to
dwell. The quality of our greatness depends upon what we do with "that
which is least."



MAY The Fourteenth

_CALAMITY AS REVEALER_

"_In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord._"
--ISAIAH vi. 1-8.


He lost a hero, and he found the Lord. He feared because a great pillar
had fallen: and he found the Pillar of the universe. He thought everything
would topple into disaster, and lo! he felt the strength of the
everlasting arms. When Uzziah lived Isaiah had forgotten his Lord. He so
depended on the earthly that he had overlooked the heavenly. Uzziah
concealed his Lord as a thick veil can hide a face. And when Uzziah died,
when the earthly king passed away, the eternal King was revealed; as when
by the passing of an earth-born cloud the moon reigns radiant in the open
sky.

And thus it is that apparent calamity is often the minister of revelation.
The great storm clears the air, and luminous vistas come into view. The
howling wind of adversity drives away the earth-born clouds and we see the
face of God. Our sorrows prove the occasion of our visions. We see new
panoramas through our tears. Bereavement gives us spiritual surprises, and
death becomes the servant of life. And so it happens that days which began
in gloom end in revelation, and we keep their recurring anniversary with
deepening praise.



MAY The Fifteenth

_GOD IS WIDE-AWAKE_

"_Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said,
I see a rod of an almond tree._"
--JEREMIAH i. 7-19.


And through the almond tree the Lord gave the trembling young prophet the
strength of assurance. The almond tree is the first to awake from its
wintry sleep. When all other trees are held in frozen slumber the almond
blossoms are looking out on the barren world. And God is like that, awake
and vigilant. Nobody anticipates Him. Wherever Jeremiah was sent on his
prophetic mission the Lord would be there before him. Before the prophet's
enemies could get to work the Lord was on the field. In the wintriest
circumstances of a prophet's life God is wide awake: "He that keepeth
Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."

And still the almond tree has its heartening significance for thee and me.
Our God is wide-awake. He looks out upon our wintry circumstances, and
nothing is hid from His sight. There is no unrecognized and uncounted
factor which may steal in furtively and take Him by surprise. Everything
is open. He is wide-awake on the far-off field where the isolated
missionary is ploughing his lonely furrow. He is wide-awake on the field
of common labour where some young disciple finds it hard to keep clean
hands while he earns his daily bread.



MAY The Sixteenth

_THE DETAILS OF PROVIDENCE_

"_The very hairs of your head are all numbered._"
--MATTHEW x. 24-31.


Providence goes into details. Sometimes, in our human intercourse, we
cannot see the trees for the wood. We cannot see the individual sheep for
the flock. We cannot see the personal soul for the masses. We are blinded
by the bigness of things; we cannot see the individual blades of grass
because of the field.

Now God's vision is not general, it is particular. There are no "masses"
to the Infinite. "He calleth His own sheep _by name_." The single one is
seen as though he alone possessed the earth. When God looks at the wood He
sees every tree. When He looks at the race He sees every man.

And, therefore, I need not fear that "my way is overlooked by my God." He
knows every turning. He knows just where the strain begins at the hill. He
knows the perils of every descent. He knows every happening along the
road. He knows every letter that came to me by this morning's post. He
knows every visitor who knocks at the door of my life, whether the visitor
come at the high noon or at the midnight. "There is nothing hid." "The
very hairs of your head are all numbered."



MAY The Seventeenth

_MY BODILY INFIRMITIES_

JOHN ix. 1-12.


An infirmity becomes doubly burdensome when we give it a false
interpretation. The weight of a thing is determined by our conception of
it. If I look upon my ailment as the stroke of an offended God, I wear it
like the chains of a slave. If I look upon it as the fire of the gracious
Refiner, I can calmly await the beneficent issue. It is my Lord, engaged
in chastening His jewels!

And so our Master first of all relieves the blind man of the false
interpretation of his infirmity. "_Neither did this man sin, nor his
parents._" That lifts the sorrow out of the winter into the spring. It
sets it in the warm, sweet light of grace. It becomes transfigured. It
wears a new face, placed there in "the light of His countenance."

And then our Lord relieves the blind man of the infirmity itself. The
ministry of blindness was accomplished, and sight was given. No man is
kept in the darkness a moment longer than infinite love deems good. Our
Lord does not overlook the prison-house, and leave us there forgotten. "He
that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." So cheer thee, my
soul! The Lord is on thy side! The Miracle-worker knows His time and "the
dreariest path, the darkest way, shall issue out in heavenly day."



MAY The Eighteenth

_BLINDED JUDGMENTS_

JOHN ix. 13-25.


Here is a ceremonialism which is blind to the humane. Its scrupulous
ritualisms have dried up its philanthropy. It thinks more of etiquette
than equity. It esteems genuflexions more than generosity. It values the
husk more than the kernel. It is Sabbatarian but not humanitarian. My God,
deliver me from all pious conventionalities which make me indifferent to
the ailments and cries of my fellow-men!

And here is a dense prejudice which is blind to the evident. "_They did
not believe that he had been blind._" A prejudice can deflect the
judgment, as subtle magnetic currents can deflect the needle. The film of
an ecclesiastical prejudice can be so opaque as to make us "blind to
facts." We do not "see things as they are." Our perverted eyes give us a
crooked world.

And here is a bitter violence which is blind to the glory of the Lord. "We
know that this man is a sinner!" And so it comes to that. Our judgments
can become so warped that when we look upon Him, "who is the chief among
ten thousand and the altogether lovely," "there is no beauty that we
should desire Him"! And therefore let this be my daily prayer, "Lord, that
I might receive my sight!"



MAY The Nineteenth

_THE ROCK OF EXPERIENCE_

JOHN ix. 26-41.


The Lord gains a witness, and a stalwart witness too! First, he stood upon
his own inalienable experience. "_One thing I know, that whereas I was
blind, now I see._" Second, he drew his own firm inferences from the
beneficence of the work. And, in the third place, he reached his grand
conclusion. "_If this man were not of God, He could do nothing._" A grand
testimony, and given by one who "dared to stand alone!"

And the witness gained a Friend. "Jesus heard that they had cast him out,
and when He had found him...." Our Lord is always seeking the outcasts. He
never abandons the abandoned. When the faithful witness is driven into the
wilderness he finds "a table spread" before him "in the presence of his
enemies." The man who had recovered his sight was cast out, but on the
threshold he met his Lord!

And further sight was given. By the first sight he could see his parents,
by the second sight he saw the Son of God. The film was first removed from
his eyes, and then from his soul, and he saw "the glory of the Lord." "And
he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him."



MAY The Twentieth

_THE LONE CRY IN THE BIG CROWD_

MARK x. 46-52.


Our Lord hears the cry of need even when it rises from the midst of the
tumultuous crowd. A mother can hear the faint cry of her child in the
chamber above, even when the room resounds with the talk and laughter of
her guests. And our Lord heard the wail of poor Bartimæus! That lone,
sorrowful cry pierced the clamour, "and Jesus stood still." My soul, cry
to Him! "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by."

And Bartimæus knew what he wanted. He merged all his petitions in one.
"Lord, that I might receive my sight!" And let me, too, come to my Saviour
with some great, dominant, all-commanding request. I trifle with my
Master. I ask Him for toys, for petty things, while all the time He is
waiting to give me "unsearchable wealth," "sight, riches, healing of the
mind." "The Lord is great"; and shall I add, "and greatly to be _prayed_!"

And how delicately gracious it is that our Lord should attribute the
miracle to Bartimæus himself. "_Thy faith hath made thee whole!_" As
though the Lord had had no share in the ministry! He makes so much of our
faith, and our endeavour, and our obedience. "If ye had faith as a grain
of mustard-seed!" That's all He wants, and miracles are accomplished.



MAY The Twenty-first

_HUMAN FRAILTIES_

ISAIAH xlii. 1-7.


What a winsome revelation of the delicate gentleness of the Lord! "The
bruised reed"--is it the impaired musical reed, that cannot now emit a
musical sound, and can only be thrown away? He will not snap it and cast
it to the void. The discordant life can be made tuneful again: He will put
"a new song in my mouth."

"And the smoking flax"--the life that has lost its fire, and therefore its
light, its enthusiasm, and therefore its ideals; the life that is
smouldering into the cold ashes of moral and spiritual death! He will not
stamp it out with His foot. The smouldering fire can be rekindled, a spent
enthusiasm can be revived. "He shall baptize you ... with fire!"

And so He comes to minister to the infirm. He comes to restore injured
faculty; "_to open blind eyes_." He comes to give vision to restored
sight: "_to be a light of the Gentiles_." And He comes to endow the
restored life with a rich and gracious freedom: "_to bring out the
prisoners from the prison_." Sight, and light, and freedom! And my Lord is
at the gate, and these gifts are in His hand.



MAY The Twenty-second

_THE LIGHT AS DARKNESS_

MATTHEW xiii. 10-17.


The condition of the heart determines the quality of my discernment. If
"the heart is waxed gross," the ears will be "dull of hearing," and the
eyes will be "closed." My spiritual senses gain their acuteness or
obtuseness from my affections. If my love is muddy my sight will be dim.
If my love be "clear as crystal" the spiritual realm will be like a
gloriously transparent air.

And the awful nemesis of sin-created blindness is this, that it interprets
itself as sight. "The light that is in thee is darkness." We think we see,
and all the time we are the children of the night. We think it is "the
dawn of God's sweet morning," and behold! it is the perverse flare of the
evil one. He has given us a will-o'-the-wisp, and we boastfully proclaim
it to be "the morning star."

But there is hope for any man, however blind he be, who will humbly lay
himself at Jesus' feet. Let this be my prayer, O Lord, "Cleanse Thou me
from secret faults." Deliver me from self-deception, save me from
confusing the fixed light of heaven with the wandering beacon-lights of
hell. And again and again will I pray, "Lord, that I might receive my
sight!"



MAY The Twenty-third

_WIND AND FIRE_

ACTS ii. 1-21.


The Holy Spirit will minister to me as a _wind_. He will create an
atmosphere in my life which will quicken all sweet and beautiful growth.
And this shall be my native air. Gracious seeds, which have never awaked,
shall now unfold themselves, and "the desert shall rejoice and blossom as
the rose." It was a saying of Huxley, that if our little island were to be
invaded by tropical airs, tropical seeds which are now lying dormant in
English gardens and fields would troop out of their graves in bewildering
wealth and beauty! "Breathe on me, breath of God!"

And the Holy Spirit will minister to me as a _fire_. And fire is our
supreme minister of cleansing. Fire can purify when water is impotent. The
great fire burnt out the great plague. There are evil germs which cannot
be dealt with except by the searching ministry of the flame. "He shall
baptize you ... _with fire_." He will create a holy enthusiasm in my soul,
an intense and sacred love, which will burn up all evil intruders, but in
which all beautiful things shall walk unhurt.

    "Kindle a flame of sacred love
     On these cold hearts of ours."



MAY The Twenty-fourth

_CALVARY AND PENTECOST_

ACTS ii. 22-36.


The Apostle Peter traces the stream of Pentecostal blessing to a tomb.
This "river of water of life" has its "rise" in a death of transcendent
sacrifice. And I must never forget these dark beginnings of my eternal
hope. It is well that I should frequently visit the sources of my
blessedness, and kneel on "the green hill far away."

It will save me from having a cheap religion. I shall never handle the
gifts of grace as though they had cost nothing. There will always be the
marks of blood upon them, the crimson stain of incomparable sacrifice.

And it will save me from all flippancy in my religious life. When I visit
the cross and the tomb, life is transformed from a picnic into a crusade.
For that is ever my peril, to picnic on the banks of the river and to
spend my days in emotional loitering.

After all, my Pentecost is purposed to prepare me for my own Gethsemane
and Calvary! Life is given me in order that I may spend it again in ready
and fruitful sacrifice.



MAY The Twenty-fifth

_VISIONS AND DREAMS_

JOEL ii. 21-32.


And this old-world promise is good for me to-day. It is like some
weather-stained well, whose waters have continued flowing throughout the
generations, right down to my own time. Let me drink!

Holy inspiration will give me insight into the mind of my God. "_Your sons
and your daughters shall prophesy._" The breath of God creates an
atmosphere in which spiritual realities are clearly seen. It is like the
Sabbath air in some busy city, when the fumes and smoke of commerce have
been blown away. "Thou shalt behold the land that is very far off."

And so in my younger days holy inspiration will give me visions. "Your
young men shall see visions." I shall be an idealist, and I shall see
things as they exist in God's idea, even though at present they be maimed
and imperfect. I shall see them "according to the pattern on the Mount."

And in my later days holy inspiration will give me dreams. "_Your old men
shall dream dreams._" And what shall they dream about? Not like the
Chinese, of a golden age in a distant past, but of a golden age to be.
Their dreams shall have a "forward-looking eye." They shall see "the new
Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God."



MAY The Twenty-sixth

_THE UNITING OF SUNDERED PEOPLES_

"_On the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost._"
--ACTS x. 34-48.


And this is ever the issue of a true outpouring of the Spirit: sundered
peoples become one. At "low tide" there are multitudes of separated pools
along the shore: at "high tide" they flow together, and the little
distinctions are lost in a splendid union.

It is so racially. "Jew and Gentile!" Peter and Cornelius lose their
prejudices in the emancipating ministry of the Spirit. And so shall it be
with English and Irish, with French and German, with Asiatic and European:
they shall be "all one" in Christ.

It is so socially. "Bond and free!" The master and the servant shall
discover a glorious intimacy and union. And so shall rich and poor, the
learned and the illiterate, the many-talented and the obscure. The pools
shall flow together.

It is so ecclesiastically. Our sectarianisms are always most frowning and
obtrusive when spiritually we are at "low tide." When the tide rises, it
is amazing how the ramparts are submerged. It is not round-table
conferences that we need, but seasons of communion when together we shall
await the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.



MAY The Twenty-seventh

_RECEIVING THE HOLY GHOST_

ACTS ii. 37-47.


The sacred process by which the Holy Spirit is received is the same
throughout all the years.

First there is _repentance_. And repentance is not a flow of emotion, but
a certain direction of mind. I may repent with dry eyes. It is not a
matter of feeling, but of willing. It is to lay hold of the aimless,
drifting thought, and _steer it toward God_! It is a change of mind.

Second, there is a definite and avowed choice of my new Goal, my new Lord
and King. The Christian life cannot be a subterfuge. It cannot be lived
incognito. I cannot be the Christ's and wear the livery of an alien power.
There must be _confession_, a bold and clarion-like avowal that henceforth
I am a soldier of the Lord.

And the spiritual experiences will be sure, as sure as the law-governed
processes of the material world. There will be "_remission of sins_." The
old guilt will fall away from my soul as the chains fell from Peter's
limbs when the angel touched them. And there will be "_the gift of the
Holy Ghost_." A new dynamic is mine! I enter into fellowship with the
power of the ascended Lord.



MAY The Twenty-eighth

_THE SONS OF GOD_

"_For as many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God._"
--ROMANS viii. 9-17.


And how unspeakably wealthy are the implications of the great word!

If a son, then what holy freedom is mine! Mine is not "_the spirit of
bondage_." The son has "the run of the house." That is the great contrast
between lodgings and home. And I am to be at home with the Lord.

And if a son, then heir! "All things are yours." Samuel Rutherford used to
counsel his friends to "take a turn" round their estate. And truly it is
an inspiring exercise! The Spirit shall lead me over my estate, and I will
survey, with the sense of ownership, "the things which God hath prepared
for them that love Him."

I wonder if I have the manner of a king's son? I wonder if there is
anything in my very "walk" which indicates distinguished lineage and royal
blood? Or am I like a vagrant who has no possessions and no heartening
expectations?

"Lord, I would serve, and be a son!"



MAY The Twenty-ninth

_MANY GIFTS--ONE SPIRIT_

1 CORINTHIANS xii. 1-13.


There is no monotony in the workmanship of my God. The multitude of His
thoughts is like the sound of the sea, and every thought commands a new
creation. When He thinks upon me, the result is a creative touch never
again to be repeated on land or sea. And so, when the Holy Spirit is given
to the people, the ministry does not work in the suppression of
individualities, but rather in their refinement and enrichment.

Our gifts will be manifold, and we must not allow the difference to breed
a spirit of suspicion. Because my brother's gift is not mine I must not
suspect his calling. To one man is given a trumpet, to another a lamp, and
to another a spade. And they are all the holy gifts of grace.

And thus the gifts are manifold in order that every man may find his
completeness in his brother. One man is like an eye--he is a seer of
visions! Another man is like a hand--he has the genius of practicality! He
is "a handy man"! One is the architect, the other is the builder. And each
requires the other, if either is to be perfected. And so, by God's
gracious Spirit, the individual man is only a bit, a portion, and he is
intended to fit into the other bits, and so make the complete man of the
race.



MAY The Thirtieth

_FINDING THE DEEP THINGS_

"_The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God._"
--1 CORINTHIANS ii. 7-12.


The deep things of God cannot be discovered by unaided reason. "_Eye hath
not seen:_" they are not to be apprehended by the artistic vision. "_Ear
hath not heard:_" they are not unveiled amid the discussion of the
philosophic schools. "_Neither hath entered into the heart of man:_" even
poetic insight cannot discern them. All the common lights fail in this
realm. We need another illumination, even that provided by the Holy
Spirit. And the Spirit is offered unto us "that we might know the things
that are freely given to us of God."

And here we have the reason why so many uncultured people are spiritually
wiser than many who are learned. They lack talent, but they have grace.
They lack accomplishments, but they have the Holy Ghost. They lack the
telescope, but they have the sunlight. They are not scholars, but they are
saints. They may not be theologians, but they have true religion. And so
they have "the open vision." They "walk with God," and "the deep things of
God" are made known to their souls.

We must put first things first. We may be busy polishing our lenses when
our primary and fundamental need is light. It is not a gift that we
require, but a Friend.



MAY The Thirty-first

_CONNECTION AND CONCORD_

"_By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body._"
--1 CORINTHIANS xii. 12-19.


It is only in the spirit that real union is born. Every other kind of
union is artificial, and mechanical, and dead. We can dovetail many pieces
of wood together and make the unity of an article of furniture, but we
cannot dovetail items together and make a tree. And it is the union of a
tree that we require, a union born of indwelling life. We may join many
people together in a fellowship by the bonds of a formal creed, but the
result is only a piece of social furniture, it is not a vital communion.
There is a vast difference between a connection and a concord.

Many members of a family may bear the same name, may share the same blood,
may sit and eat at the same table, and yet may have no more vital union
than a handful of marbles in a boy's pocket. But let the spirit of a
common love dwell in all their hearts and there is a family bound together
in glorious union.

And so it is in the spirit, and there alone, that vital union is to be
found. And here is the secret of such spiritual union. "By one Spirit are
we all baptized into one body." The Spirit of God, dwelling in all our
spirits, attunes them into glorious harmony. Our lives blend with one
another in the very music of the spheres.



JUNE The First

_THE BEAUTY OF VARIETY_

1 CORINTHIANS xii. 20-31.


God's glory is expressed through the harmony of variety. We do not need
sameness in order to gain union. I am now looking upon a scene of
surpassing loveliness. There are mountains, and sea, and grassland, and
trees, and a wide-stretching sky, and white pebbles at my feet. And a
white bird has just flown across a little bank of dark cloud. What
variety! And when I look closer the variety is infinitely multiplied.
Everything blends into everything else. Nothing is out of place.
Everything contributes to finished power and loveliness. And so it is in
the grander sphere of human life. The glory of humanity is born of the
glory of individuals, each one making his own distinctive contribution.

And thus we have need of one another. Every note in the organ is needed
for the full expression of noble harmony. Every instrument in the
orchestra is required unless the music is to be lame and broken. God has
endowed no two souls alike, and every soul is needed to make the music of
"the realm of the blest."



JUNE The Second

_OUR SPIRITUAL GUIDE_

"_When He, the Spirit of truth, is come,
He will guide you into all truth._"
--JOHN xvi. 7-14.


How great is the difference between a guide-post and a guide! And what a
difference between a guide-book and a companion! Mere instructions may be
very uninspiring, and bare commandments may be very cold. Our Guide is an
inseparable Friend.

And how will He guide us? He will give us insight. "He will guide you into
all truth." He will refine our spirits so that we may be able to
distinguish "things that differ," and that so we may know the difference
between "the holy and the profane." Our moral judgment is often dull and
imperceptive. And our spiritual judgment is often lacking in vigour and
penetration. And so our great Spirit-guide puts our spirits to school, and
more deeply sanctifies them, that in holiness we may have discernment.

And He will also give us foresight. He will enable us to interpret
circumstances, to apprehend their drift and destiny. We shall see harvests
while we are looking at seeds, whether the seeds be seeds of good or evil.
All of which means that the Holy Spirit will deliver our lives from the
governance of mere whim and caprice, and that He will make us wise with
the wisdom of God.



JUNE The Third

_THE SAFETY OF THE OCCUPIED HEART_

GALATIANS v. 16-25.


Two friends were cycling through Worcestershire and Warwickshire to
Birmingham. When they arrived in Birmingham I asked them, among other
things, if they had seen Warwick Gaol along the road. "No," they said, "we
hadn't a glimpse of it." "But it is only a field's length from the road!"
"Well, we never saw it." Ah, but these two friends were lovers. They were
so absorbed in each other that they had no spare attention for Warwick
Gaol. Their glorious fellowship made them unresponsive to its calls. They
were otherwise engaged.

"Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." That
great Companionship will make us negligent of carnal allurements. "The
world, and the flesh, and the devil" may stand by the wayside, and hold
their glittering wares before us, but we shall scarcely be aware of their
presence. We are otherwise engaged. We are absorbed in the "Lover of our
souls."

This is the only real and effective way to meet temptation. We must meet
it with an occupied heart. We must have no loose and trailing affections.
We must have no vagrant, wayward thoughts. Temptation must find us engaged
with our Lover. We must "offer no occasion to the flesh." Walking with the
Holy One, our elevation is our safety.



JUNE The Fourth

_LIFE'S REAL VALUES_

PROVERBS viii. 10-19.


Here is a man who knows the relative values of things. "_Instruction is
better than silver_"; "_knowledge rather than choice gold_"; "_wisdom is
better than rubies._" He weighs the inherent worth of things, and puts his
choice upon the best.

Let me remember that "all is not gold that glitters." The leaden casket is
often the shrine of the priceless scroll. The glaring and the theatrical
have often a ragged and seamy interior, and won't bear "looking into." A
man may have much display and be very lonely; he may have piles of wealth
and be destitute of joy. His libraries may cover an acre, and yet he may
have no light. And a man may have only "a candle, and a table, and a bed,"
and he may be the companion of the eternal God.

I would seek these priceless things. And I would "_seek them early_." I
have so often been late in the search. I have given the early moments to
seeking the world's silver and gold, and the later weary moments have been
idly devoted to God. "They that seek Me early shall find Me." Let me put
"first things first." "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness."



JUNE The Fifth

_THE SPEECH OF EVENTS_

ACTS xiii. 14-23.


Do I sufficiently remember the witness of history? Do I reverently listen
to the "great voice behind me"? God has spoken in the speech of events.
"Day unto day" has uttered speech. There has been a witness in national
life, sometimes quiet as a fragrance, and sometimes "loud as a vale when
storms are gone." Is it all to me as though it had never been, or is it
part of the store of counsel by which I shape and guide my life?

And do I sufficiently remember my own providences, "_all the way my God
has led me_"? When a day is over, do I carry its helpful lamp into the
morrow? Do I "learn wisdom" from experience? That is surely God's purpose
in the days; one is to lead on to another in the creation of an ever
brightening radiance, that so at eventide it may be light.

And do I sufficiently remember that I, too, am making history for my
fellows who shall succeed me? What kind of a witness will it be? Grim and
full of warning, like the pillar of salt, or winsome and full of
heartiness, like some "sweet Ebenezer" built by life's way? Let me pray
and labour that my days may so shine with grace that all who remember me
shall adore the goodness of my Lord.



JUNE The Sixth

_LOVE'S EXPENDITURES_

1 JOHN iii. 11-18.


Hereby perceive we the love of God, because "_He laid down His life for
us_." And the real test of any love is what it is prepared to "lay down."
How much is it ready to spend? How much will it bleed? There is much
spurious love about. It lays nothing down; it only takes things up! It is
self-seeking, using the speech and accents of love. It is a "work of the
flesh," which has stolen the label of a "fruit of the Spirit." Love may
always be known by its expenditures, its self-crucifixions, its Calvarys.
Love is always laying down its life for others. Its pathway is always a
red road. You may track its goings by the red "marks of the Lord Jesus."

And this is the life, the love-life, which the Lord Jesus came to create
among the children of men. It is His gracious purpose to form a spiritual
fellowship in which every member will be lovingly concerned about his
fellows' good. A real family of God would be one in which all the members
bleed for each, and each for all.

How can we gain this disposition of love? "God is love." "We love because
He first loved us." At the fountain of eternal love we too may become
lovers, becoming "partakers of the divine nature," and filled with all
"the fulness of God."



JUNE The Seventh

_MORAL SURGERY_

GALATIANS vi. 1-8.


This is a surgical operation in the realm of the soul. A man has been
"_overtaken in a fault_," some evil passion has pounced upon him, and he
is broken. Some holy relationship has been snapped, and he is crippled in
his moral and spiritual goings. Perhaps his affections have been broken,
or his conscience, or his will. Or perhaps he has lost his glorious hope
or the confidence of his faith. Here he is, a broken man, the victim of
his own broken vows, lame and halt in the pilgrim-way! And some surgeon is
needed to re-set the dislocation, and to make him whole again.

And who is to be the surgeon? "_Ye which are spiritual restore such a
one._" The men who live under the control of God's Spirit are to be the
surgeons for broken hearts and souls. When a man has fallen by reason of
sin, the Christian is to be a Good Samaritan, seeking to restore the
cripple to health and strength again. We are to kneel and minister to him,
binding up his wounds, giving him the balm and cordial of oil and wine.

And what is to be the spirit of the surgeon? "The spirit of meekness." We
are not to be supercilious, for the "touch" of pride is never the minister
of healing. We are to heal as though some day we may need to be healed.



JUNE The Eighth

_THE NEW BIRTH_

JOHN iii. 1-21.


Here is the Life in contact with the icy legalism of the day. Nicodemus
was a Pharisee, and his piety was cold and mechanical. Religion had become
a bloodless obedience to lifeless rules. Men cared more about being proper
than about being holy. Modes were emphasized more than moods. An external
pose was esteemed more highly than an internal disposition. The popular
Saint lived on "the outsides of things."

Then came the Life. And what will He say to the externalist? "Ye must be
born again." Nothing else could He have said. If the mechanical is to
become the vital there is nothing for it but a new birth. To get from the
outside into the inside of things, from the letter into the spirit, we
need the miracle of renewal, the recreating ministry of grace.

And so it is to-day. The ritualistic is vitalized by the evangelistic. If
the mechanical is to become the spontaneous, there is need of the "well of
living water, springing up unto eternal life." When we are born again,
ritual becomes helpful trellis for the spiritual flowers; the outward form
becomes the helpmeet of redeeming grace.



JUNE The Ninth

_THE STORY OF A SORROWFUL SOUL_

PSALM iii.


This tearful little psalm tells me where a sorrowful soul found a place of
help and consolation. He resorted to God.

"_Thou art a shield about me._" He got the Lord between him and his
circumstances. There is nothing else subtle enough to interpose. Our
hurtful circumstances are so invasive and so immediate that only God can
come between us and them. But when God gets in between we are immune.
"Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear."

"_Thou art my glory._" And that is an honour that need never be stained.
My worldly glory can be besmirched. An evil man throws mud, and my poor
reputation is gone. "There's always somebody ready to believe it!" But my
glory with God, and in God--man's mud cannot touch that fair fame! Even
Absalom cannot defile that resplendent robe.

"_Thou art the lifter-up of my head._" The flower is "looking up" again!
In the Lord's presence we recover our lost spirits. "He restoreth my
soul." "And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round
about me."



JUNE The Tenth

_PILLARS OF CLOUD AND FIRE_

"_The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud._"
--EXODUS xiii. 17--xiv. 4.


I need His leadership in the daytime. Sometimes the daylight is my foe. It
tempts me into carelessness. I become the victim of distraction. The
"garish day" can entice me into ways of trespass, and I am robbed of my
spiritual health. Many a man has been faithful in the twilight and night
who has lost himself in the sunshine. He went astray in his prosperity:
success was his ruin. And so in the daytime I need the shadow of God's
presence, the cooling, subduing, calming influence of a friendly cloud.

"_And by night in a pillar of fire._" And I need God's leadership in the
night. Sometimes the night fills me with fears, and I am confused. The
darkness chills me, sorrow and adversity make me cold, and I shiver along
in uncertain going. But my God will lead me as a presence of fire. He will
keep my heart warm even in the midnight, and He will guide me by the
kindlings of His love. There shall be "nothing hid from the heat thereof."
And my bewildering fears shall flee away, and I will sing "songs in the
night."



JUNE The Eleventh

_THE PATH ACROSS THE SEA_

"_Thy way is in the sea._"
--PSALM lxxvii. 11-20.


And the sea appears to be the most trackless of worlds! The sea is the
very symbol of mystery, the grim dwelling-house of innumerable things that
have been lost. But God's way moves here and there across this trackless
wild. God is never lost among our mysteries. He knows his way about. When
we are bewildered He sees the road, and He sees the end even from the
beginning. Even the sea, in every part of it, is the Lord's highway. When
His way is in the sea we cannot trace it. Mystery is part of our appointed
discipline. Uncertainty is to prepare us for a deeper assurance. The
spirit of questioning is one of the ordained means of growth. And so the
bewildering sea is our friend, as some day we shall understand. We love to
"lie down in green pastures," and to be led "beside the still waters," and
God gives us our share of this nourishing rest. But we need the mysterious
sea, the overwhelming experience, the floods of sorrows which we cannot
explain. If we had no sea we should never become robust. We should remain
weaklings to the end of our days.

God takes us out into the deeps. But His way is in the sea. He knows the
haven, He knows the track, and we shall arrive!



JUNE The Twelfth

_WAITING FOR THE SPECTACULAR_

"_The waves covered their enemies....
Then believed they His words._"
--PSALM cvi. 1-12.


Their faith was born in a great emergency. A spectacular deliverance was
needed to implant their trust in the Lord. They found no witness in the
quiet daily providence; the unobtrusive miracle of daily mercy did not
awake their song. They dwelt upon the "special" blessing, when all the
time the really special blessing was to be found in the sleepless care
which watched over them in their ordinary and commonplace ways.

It is the old story. We are wanting God to appear in imperial glory; and
He comes among us as a humble carpenter. We want great miracles, and we
have the daily Providence. We see His dread goings in the earthquake; we
do not feel His presence in the lilies of the field. We watch Him in the
smoke and flames of Vesuvius; we do not recognize His footprints in the
little turf-clad hill that is only a few yards from our own door.

It is a great day when we discover our God in the common bush. That day is
marked with glory when our daily bread becomes a sacrament. When we enjoy
a closer walk with God, common things will wear the hues of heaven.



JUNE the Thirteenth

_CLOUDED BUT NOT LOST!_

"_Clouds and darkness are round about Him._"
--PSALM xcvii.


When Lincoln had been assassinated, and word of the tragedy came to New
York, "the people were in a state of mind which urges to violence." A man
appeared on the balcony of one of the newspaper offices, waving a small
flag, and a clear voice rang through the air: "Fellow-citizens! Clouds and
darkness are round about Him! His pavilion is dark waters, and thick
clouds of the skies! Justice and judgment are the habitation of His
throne! Fellow-citizens, God reigns!" It was the voice of General
Garfield.

That voice proclaimed the divine sovereignty, even when the heavens were
black with the menace of destruction. Lincoln had been assassinated, but
God lived! Human confusion does not annihilate His throne. God liveth!
"The firm foundation standeth sure." This is the only rock to stand upon
when the clouds have gathered, and the waters are out, and the great deeps
are broken up. God's sceptre does not fall from His grasp, nor is snatched
by alien hands. The throne abideth. Joy will rise from the apparent chaos
as springs are unsealed by the earthquake. He will bring fortune out of
misfortune; the darkness shall be the hiding-place of His grace.



JUNE The Fourteenth

_THE LAW IN THE HEART_

"_I will put My laws into their hearts._"
--HEBREWS x. 16-22.


Everything depends on where we carry the law of the Lord. If it only rests
in the memory, any vagrant care may snatch it away. The business of the
day may wipe it out as a sponge erases a record from a slate. A thought is
never secure until it has passed from the mind into the heart, and has
become a desire, an aspiration, a passion. When the law of God is taken
into the heart, it is no longer something merely remembered: it is
something loved. Now things that are loved have a strong defence. They are
in the "keep" of the castle, in the innermost custody of the stronghold.
The strength of the heart is wrapped about them, and no passing vagrant
can carry them away.

And this is where the good Lord is willing to put His laws. He is wishful
to put them among our loves. And the wonderful thing is this: when laws
are put among loves they change their form, and His statutes become our
songs. Laws that are loved are no longer dreadful policemen, but
compassionate friends. "O! how I love Thy law!" That man did not live in a
prison, he lived in a garden, and God's will was unto him as gracious
flowers and fruits. And so shall it be unto all of us when we love the law
of the Lord.



JUNE The Fifteenth

_THE KING'S GUESTS_

"_Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?_"
--PSALM xxiv.


Who shall be permitted to pass into the sanctuary of the cloud, and have
communion with the Lord in the holy place? "He that hath clean hands."
These hands of mine, the symbols of conduct, the expression of the outer
life, what are they like? "Your hands are full of blood." Those hands had
been busy murdering others, pillaging others, brutally ill-using their
fellow-men. We may do it in business. We may do it in conversation. We may
do it in a criminal silence. Our hands may be foul with a brother's blood.
And men and women with hands like these cannot "ascend into the hill of
the Lord." There must be no stain of an unfair and scandalous life.

"And a pure heart." We need not trouble about the hands if the heart be
clean. If all the presences that move in the heart--desires, and motives,
and sentiments, and ideals--are like white-robed angels "without spot, or
wrinkle, or any such thing," everything that emerges into outer life will
share the same radiant purity. The heart expresses itself in the hands.
Character blossoms in conduct. The quality of our current coin is
determined by the quality of the metal in the mint. "As a man thinketh in
his heart, so is he."



JUNE The Sixteenth

_SINAI AND CALVARY_

HEBREWS xii. 18-28.


We need not live at the foot of Mount Sinai. It is like living at the foot
of Mount Pelee, the home of awful eruption, and therefore the realm of
gloom and uncertainty and fear. We are not saved by law, neither indeed
can we be. Neither can law heal us after our transgressions and defeats.
The law has nothing for prodigal men but "blackness, and darkness, and
tempest." It has no sound but dreaded decree, no message but menace, no
look but a frown. Who will build his house at the foot of Mount Sinai?

"But ye are come unto Mount Zion." Our true home is not at Sinai, but at
Calvary. There is no place for the sinner at the first mount; at the
second mount there is a place for no one else. At Calvary we may find our
way back to the holiness we lost at Sinai. Through grace we may drop the
burden of our sin and begin to wear the garments of salvation. The way
back to heaven is by "the green hill, without a city wall." It is a mount
that can be reached by the most exhausted pilgrim; and the one who has
"spent all" will assuredly find a full restoration of life at the gate of
his Saviour's death. "Ye are come to Jesus, the mediator of the new
covenant."



JUNE The Seventeenth

_THE INVISIBLE PRESENCE_

"_Show me Thy glory._"
--EXODUS xxxiii. 12-23.


Moses wist not what he asked. His speech was beyond his knowledge. The
answer to his request would have consumed him. He asked for the blazing
noon when as yet he could only bear the quiet shining of the dawn. The
good Lord lets in the light as our eyes are able to bear it. The
revelation is tempered to our growth. The pilgrim could bear a brightness
in Beulah land that he could not have borne at the wicket-gate; and the
brilliance of the entry into the celebrated city throws the splendours of
Beulah into the shade. Yes, the gracious Lord will unveil His glory as our
"senses are exercised to receive it."

"My Presence shall go with thee." That is all the glory we need upon the
immediate road. His companionship means everything. The real glory is to
possess God; let Him show us His inheritance as it shall please Him.
Life's glory is to "feel Him near." When the loving wife feels that the
husband is in the house, and when the loving husband feels that the wife
is in the house, that is everything! The joy of each other's presence is
the crown of married bliss. And so it is with the soul that is married to
the Lord: His presence is the soul's delight. "Thou, O Christ, art all I
want." "O Master, let me walk with Thee."



JUNE The Eighteenth

_THE BENEFITTED AS BENEFACTORS_

"_Who comforteth us ... that we may be able to comfort._"
--2 CORINTHIANS i. 3-7.


And how does the Lord comfort us? He has a thousand different ways, and no
one can ever tell by what way the comfort will come to his soul. Sometimes
it comes by the door of memory, and sometimes by the door of hope.
Sometimes it is borne to us through the ministry of nature, and at other
times through the ministry of human speech and kindness. But always, I
think, it brings us the sense of a Presence, as though we had a great
Friend in the room, and the troubled heart gains quietness and peace. The
mist clears a little, and we have a restful assurance of our God.

Now comforted souls are to be comforters. They who have received benefits
of grace are to be benefactors. They who have heard the sweet music of
God's abiding love are to sing it again to others. They who have seen the
glory are to become evangelists. We must not seek to hoard spiritual
treasure. As soon as we lock it up we begin to lose it. A mysterious moth
and rust take it away. If we do not comfort others, our own comfort will
turn again to bitterness; the clouds will lower and we shall be imprisoned
in the old woe. But the comfort which makes a comforter grows deeper and
richer every day.



JUNE The Nineteenth

_RECKONING UP THINGS_

PSALM xc. 1-12.


Numbering things is one of the healthful exercises of the spiritual life.
Unless we count, memory is apt to be very tricky and to snare us into
strange forgetfulness. Unless we count what we have given away, we are
very apt to exaggerate our bounty. We often think we have given when we
have only listened to appeals; the mere audience has been mistaken for
active beneficence. The remedy for all this is occasionally to count our
benevolences and see how we stand in a balance-sheet which we could
present to the Lord Himself.

And we must count our blessings. It is when our arithmetic fails in the
task, and when counting God's blessings is like telling the number of the
stars, that our souls bow low before the eternal goodness, and all
murmuring dies away "like cloud-spots in the dawn."

And we must also "number our days." We are wasteful with them, and we
throw them away as though they are ours in endless procession. And yet
there are only seven days in a week! A day is of immeasurable
preciousness, for what high accomplishment may it not witness? A day in
health or in sickness, spent unto God, and applied unto wisdom, will
gather treasures more precious than rubies and gold.



JUNE The Twentieth

_THE REVEALING PRESENCE OF THE LORD_

EPHESIANS vi. 1-10.


A starling never reveals the richness of its hues until we see it in the
sunlight. A duty never discloses its beauties until we set it in the light
of the Lord. It is amazing how a dull road is transfigured when the
sunshine falls upon it! God's grace reveals the graces in all healthy
things. Hidden lovelinesses troop out when we set them in the presence of
the Lord.

And so the Apostle counsels an obedience which is "in the Lord." He wants
us to know how beautiful common things can be when they are linked to
Christ. And what he says about obedience he says about everything. One of
the great secrets in the teaching of Paul is expressed in just this
phrase, "in the Lord," "in Christ." It meant connection with a power-house
whose energy would light up all the common lamps of life--the lamps of
hope, of faith, of love, of daily labour, and of human service.

And this is the secret of the Christian life. We need no other; at least,
all other secrets are involved in this. If we attend to this little
preposition "in," we have entry into the infinite. If we are "in Christ,"
we are in the kingdom of everything that endures, and we are outside
nothing but sin.



JUNE The Twenty-first

_ROOM FOR THE SAPLINGS_

"_Children crying in the temple, saying Hosanna!_"
--MATTHEW xxi. 1-16.


Children's voices mingling in the sounds of holy praise! A little child
can share in the consecrated life. Young hearts can offer love pure as a
limpid spring. Their sympathy is as responsive as the most sensitive harp,
and yields to the touch of the tenderest joy and grief. No wonder the Lord
"called little children unto Him"! They were unto Him as gracious streams,
and as flowers of the field.

Let the loving Saviour have our children. Let there be no waiting for
maturer years. Maturity may bring the impaired faculty and the embittered
emotion. Let Him have things in their beginnings, the seeds and the
saplings. Let Him have life before it is formed, before it is "set" in
foolish moulds. Let us consecrate the cradle, and the good Lord will grow
and nourish His saints.



JUNE The Twenty-second

_CHILDLIKENESS_

MARK ix. 33-41.


It is the child-spirit that finds life's golden gates, and that finds them
all ajar. The proudly aggressive spirit, contending for place and power,
may force many a door, but they are not doors which open into enduring
wealth and peace. Real inheritances become ours only through humility.

The proud are, therefore, self-deceived. They think they have succeeded
when they have signally failed. They have the shadow, but they have missed
the substance. They may have the applause of the world, but the angels
sigh over their defeat. They pride themselves on having "got on"; the
angels weep because they have "gone down."

When we grow away from childlikeness we are "in a decline." "God resisteth
the proud; He giveth grace to the humble." The lowly make great
discoveries; to them the earth is full of God's glory.



JUNE The Twenty-third

_THE GREATEST BENEFACTORS_

MATTHEW x. 29-42.


It is a very wonderful thing that the finest services are within the power
of the poorest people. The deepest ministries find their symbols in "cups
of cold water," which it is in the power of everybody to give. The great
benefactors are the great lovers, and their coin is not that of material
money, but the wealth of the heart. A bit of affection is worth infinitely
more than the gift of a necklace of pearls. To kindle hope in a fainting
soul is far more precious than to adorn the weary pilgrim with dazzling
gems. "He brought me heaps of presents, but I was hungering for love!"
Such was the pathetic cry of one who was "clothed in purple and fine
linen, and fared sumptuously every day."

"Cups of cold water," simple ministries of refreshment, the love-thought,
the love-prayer, the love-word--these are the privileged services of all
of us. And everybody needs these gentle and gracious services of
refreshment, and often there is greatest need where there seems to be
least.



JUNE The Twenty-fourth

_AT EASE IN ZION_

"_Woe to them that are at ease in Zion!_"
--AMOS vi. 1-7.


I would be delivered from the folly of confusing ease and rest. There is
an infinite difference between comforts and comfort. It is one thing to
lie down on a luxurious couch: it is a very different thing to "lie down
in green pastures" under the gracious shepherdliness of the Lord. The ease
which men covet is so often a fruit of stupefaction, the dull product of
sinful drugs, the wretched sluggishness of carnal gratification and
excess. The rest which God giveth is alive and wakeful, abounding in
tireless and fruitful service. "Oh, rest in the Lord."

But is it not a strange thing that men can be "at ease in Zion"? That they
can play the beast in the holy place? Zion was full of holy memory, and
abounded with suggestions of the Divine Presence. And yet here they could
carouse, and lose themselves in swinish indulgence! A little while ago I
saw a beautiful old church which had been turned into a common
eating-house!

My soul, be on thy guard. Be watchful and diligent, and busy thyself in
the practice of "self-knowledge, self-reverence, self-control."



JUNE The Twenty-fifth

_DESOLATIONS WROUGHT BY SIN_

"_The Lord hath spoken this word._"
--ISAIAH xxiv. 1-12.


"The Lord hath spoken this word," and it is a word of judgment. It unveils
some of the terrible issues of sin.

See the effects of sin upon the spirit of man. "_The merry-hearted do
sigh._" Life loses its wings and its song. The buoyancy and the optimism
die out of the soul. The days move with heavy feet, and duty becomes very
stale and unwelcome. If only our ears were keen enough we should hear many
a place of hollow laughter moaning with troubled and restless sighs. The
soul cannot sing when God is defied.

But see another effect of sin. "_The earth moaneth._" That is a frequent
note in Bible teaching. The forces of nature are mysteriously conditioned
by the character of man. When man is degraded, nature is despoiled. The
beauty of the garden is checked when man has lost his crown. "The whole
creation groaneth in pain," waiting for the manifestation of the children
of God.

Sin spreads desolation everywhere. When I sin, I become the centre of
demoralizing forces which influence the universe. And so let me ever pray,
"Deliver me from evil."



JUNE The Twenty-sixth

_CRUCIFYING THE FLESH_

"_Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind._"
--1 PETER iv. 1-8.


Let not the body be dominant, but the soul. Let me study the example and
counsel of the Apostle Paul.

"_I keep my body under._" Literally, I pummel it! If it is obtrusive and
aggressive, its appetites clamouring for supremacy, I pummel it! Paul was
not afraid of severe measures where carnality was concerned. He would fast
a whole day in order to put the flesh in its place. And so should it be
with all the Lord's children. We are too self-indulgent. It is well at
times to put the body on the cross, and crucify its cravings.

"_Give no occasion to the flesh._" Do not give it a chance of mastery!
And, therefore, do not feed it with illicit thought. Turn the mind away
from the subjects in which the body will find exciting stimulant. It is
thought which awakes passion, and thought can do much to destroy it. "Set
your mind on things which are above." Keep the mind pure, and the swine
will never enter the holy place.



JUNE The Twenty-seventh

_GOD IS LIGHT!_

"_In Him is no darkness at all._"
--1 JOHN i.


That wonderful mansion of God's Being is gloriously radiant in every room!
In the house of my life there are dark chambers, and rooms which are only
partially illumined, the other parts being in the possession of night.
Some of my faculties and powers are dark ministers, and some of my moods
are far from being "homes of light." But "God is light," and everything is
glorious as the meridian sun! His holiness, His grace, His love, His
mercy: there are no dark corners where uncleanness hides; everything
shines with undimmed and speckless radiancy!

And if I "walk in the light," I, too, shall become illumined. "They looked
unto Him and were lightened." We are fashioned by our highest
companionships. We acquire the nature of those with whom we most
constantly commune.

And the light He gives is also fire. It will burn away our sin. We may
measure the reality and strength of our communion by the destruction of
our sin. A great burning will be proceeding in our life, and one evil
habit after another will be in the love-furnace of purification. The Lord
still "purifies Jerusalem by the spirit of burning."



JUNE The Twenty-eighth

_THE WAITING LIGHT_

2 CORINTHIANS iv. 1-6.


I can shut out the sweet light of the morning. I can refuse to open the
shutters and draw up the blinds. And I can shut out the Light of life. I
can draw the thick blinds of prejudice, and close the impenetrable
shutters of sin. And the Light of the world cannot get into my soul.

And I can let in the waiting light of the morning, and flood my room with
its glory. And the Light is "a gracious, willing guest." No fuss is
needed, no shouting is required. Open thy casement, and the gracious guest
is in! And my Lord has no reluctance in His coming; we have not to drag
Him to our table. Open thy heart, and the Lord is in!

And when the light is within there will be radiance at the windows. And
when the Lord is shining in our hearts there will be a witness in the
life. Men will see that we are "with Jesus," because we are "light in the
Lord."

Good Lord, deliver me from "the god of this world" lest I be blinded and
become unable to see Thee! I open my heart to Thee! Shine in, Thou light
of life, and make my soul the radiant witness of Thy grace.



JUNE The Twenty-ninth

_EFFECTUAL PRAYERS_

"_The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much._"
--JAMES v. 13-20.


Or, as Weymouth translates it, "The heartfelt supplication of a righteous
man exerts a mighty influence." Prayer may be empty words, with no more
power than those empty shells which have been foisted upon the Turks in
their war with the Balkan States. Firing empty shells! That is what many
professed prayers really are; they have nothing in them, and they
accomplish nothing. They are just forged upon the lips, and they drop to
the earth as soon as they are spoken. Effectual prayers are born in the
heart; they are stocked with heart-treasure, with faith, and hope, and
desire, and holy urgency, and they go forth with power to shake the world.

What are my prayers like? _If I were God, could I listen to them?_ Are
they mere pretences at prayer, full of nothing but sound? Is there any
reasonable ground for assuming that they can accomplish anything? Or are
my prayers weighted with sincere desire? Do they comprehend my brother's
good as well as my own? Are they spoken in faith? Do they go forth in
great expectancy? Then do they surely "exert a mighty influence," and they
become fellow-labourers with all God's ministries of grace. The greatest
thing I can do is greatly to pray.



JUNE The Thirtieth

_GOD MY STRENGTH AND SONG_

"_The Lord is my strength and my song._"
--PSALM cxviii. 14-21.


Yes, first of all "my strength" and then "my song"! For what song can
there be where there is languor and fainting? What brave music can be born
in an organ which is short of breath? There must first be strength if we
would have fine harmonies. And so the good Lord comes to the songless, and
with holy power He brings the gift of "saving health."

"And my song"! For when life is healthy it instinctively breaks into song.
The happy, contented soul goes about the ways of life humming its
satisfactions to itself, and is now and again heard by the passer-by. The
Lord fills the life with instinctive music. When life is holy it becomes
musical with His praise.

So here I see the appointed order in Christian service. It is futile to
try to make people joyful unless we do it by seeking first to make them
strong. First the good, and then the truly happy! First the holy, and then
the musical. First God, and then the breath of His Holy Spirit, and then
"the new song."



JULY The First

_THE LIFE OR THE LIGHT OF MEN_

"_In Him was life._"
--JOHN i. 1-18.


Not merely a pool of life, but the well-spring. All rivers of enriching
vitality have their source in Him. Nowhere is there a crystal stream which
was not born at the Fountain. Let us make our claim for the Lord
all-comprehensive and inclusive. Whatever energizes body, mind, or soul,
has its origin in our Sovereign King. "All our springs are in Thee." "Thou
of life the Fountain art."

"_And the life was the light of men._" And what did He not light up? His
amazing rays streamed down the darkest ways of men, and illumined the
vast, sombre chambers of human circumstance. He lit up sin and showed its
true colour! He lit up sorrow, and transfigured it! He lit up duty, and
gave it a new face. He lit up common work, and glorified it. He lit up
death, and we could see through it! But, above all, He lit up God, and
"the people that sat in darkness saw a great light."

"_And the darkness apprehended it not._" The darkness could not lay hold
of it and quench it! It was not overwhelmed and eclipsed by the murkiest
fog of prejudice, or by the dingiest antagonism of sinful pride. "The
light showeth in the darkness," inviolable and invincible!



JULY The Second

_LIGHT AND LIGHTNING_

"_And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him._"
--ISAIAH xi. 1-10.


And the spirit is one of light! All the doors and windows are open. His
correspondences are perfect and unbroken. He is of "quick understanding,"
keen-scented to discern the essences of things, alert to perceive the
reality behind the semblance, to "see things as they are." All the great
primary senses are awake, and He has knowledge of every "secret place."

"_He shall smite ... with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His
lips shall He slay._" The spirit of light follows a crusade of holiness.
The light becomes lightning! The "breathing," which cools the
fever-stricken, can also become a hot breath, which wastes and destroys
every plant of evil desire. It is an awful thing, and yet a gracious
thing, that "our God is a consuming fire." It was foretold of our Lord
that He should baptize "with fire."

And this crusade of holiness is in the ministry of peace. He will burn
away all that defileth, in order that He may create a profound and
permanent fellowship. When His work is done, there will be a mingling of
apparent opposites, and antagonisms will melt into a gracious union. "The
sucking child will play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall
put his hand on the adder's den."



JULY The Third

_MY ELDER BROTHER_

HEBREWS ii. 9-18.


And doth my Lord call me one of His brethren? Let me leisurely think upon
it, until my very soul moves amid my affairs in noble and hallowed
dignity. If I steadily remember "who I am," it will assuredly transfigure
"what I am." I lose the sense of my high kinship, and then I am quite
content to be "sent into the fields to feed swine."

And my elder Brother came to "destroy the works of the devil." That is the
entire ministry of destruction. Nothing beautiful does He destroy, nothing
winsome: only the insidious presences which are the foes of these things.
He will destroy only the pestiferous microbes which ravage the vital peace
of the soul. Our Lord is the enemy of the deadly, and therefore of "him
that had the power of death--that is, the devil!"

And in this holy ministry of destruction He can defend my soul as "one who
knows," Himself "having been tempted." He knows the subtlety of the devil,
and where the soul is most perilously exposed, and He is therefore "able
to succour them that are tempted."



JULY The Fourth

_EMPTYING ONESELF_

"_He emptied Himself._"
--PHILIPPIANS ii. 1-11.


In Mr. Silvester Horne's garden a very suggestive scene was one day to be
witnessed. A cricketer of world-wide renown was playing a game with Mr.
Horne's little four-year-old son! And the fierce bowler "emptied himself,"
and served such gentle, dainty little balls that the tiny man at the
wickets was not in the least degree afraid! And the Lord of glory "emptied
Himself," fashioning Himself to our "low estate," and in His unspeakably
gentle approaches we find our peace.

And I, too, am to seek a corresponding lowliness of mind in order that I,
too, may be of service to my weak and needy brother. It is for me to empty
myself of the pride of strength, the brutal aggressiveness of success, the
sometimes unfeeling obtrusiveness of health; I must empty myself, and "get
down" by the side of weakness and infirmity, and in gentle fellowship
humbly proffer my help.

And if the mind is to be in me "which was also in Christ Jesus," it is
needful for me to commune with Him "without ceasing." His gentleness can
make me great.



JULY The Fifth

_THE DISCIPLESHIP THAT TELLS_

"_He that followeth Me._"
--JOHN viii. 12-20.


Yes, but I must make sure that I follow Him in Spirit and in truth. It is
so easy to be self-deceived. I may follow a pleasant emotion, while all
the time a bit of grim cross-bearing is being ignored. I may be satisfied
to be "out on the ocean sailing," singing of "a home beyond the tide,"
while all the time there is a piece of perilous salvage work to be done
beneath the waves. To "follow Jesus" is to face the hostility of scribes
and Pharisees, to offer restoring friendship to publicans and sinners, to
pray in blood-shedding in Gethsemane, to brave the derision of the brutal
mob, and to be "ready" for the appalling happenings on Calvary! Therefore,
following is not a light picnic; it is a possible martyrdom!

But if I set my face "to go," the Lord Himself will visit me with "_the
light of life_." And the resource shall not be broken and spasmodic: it
shall be mine without ceasing. "Be thou faithful ... and I will give
thee ... life." That life will flow into my soul, just as the oxygenating
air flows down to the diver who is faithfully busy recovering wreckage
from the wealth-strewn bed of the mighty sea. Let me be faithful, and
every moment the Lord will crown me with His own vitalizing life!



JULY The Sixth

_LIFE AS A VOICE_

JOHN i. 19-34.


This man humbly desires to be "_a voice_." He has no ambition to receive
popular homage. He does not covet the power of the lordly purple. He does
not crave to be a great person; he only wants to be a great voice! He
wants to articulate the thought and purpose of God. He is quite content to
be hidden, like a bird in a thick bush, if only his song may be heard.

And in order that he may be a voice he retires into the silent solitudes
of the desert. He will listen before he speaks. Come thou, my soul, into
his secret! The air is clamorous with speech behind which there has been
no hearing. Men speak, and in their words there is no pulse of the
Infinite. In their consolations there is no balm. In their reproaches
there is no sword. Their words are empty vessels, full of sound! Let my
voice be hushed until I have heard the voice of the Highest. "He that hath
ears to hear, let him hear."

And when he spake, it was in clear and definite testimony, "Behold the
Lamb of God!" The "voice" succeeded, for men began to look away from the
herald to the herald's Lord. In forgetting John they found the King. They
passed the _signpost_, and arrived at _home_!



JULY The Seventh

_IN THE GOLDEN AGE_

ISAIAH xl. 1-10.


And so these things are to happen when the Lord has come to His own, and
His decrees are honoured in our midst.

Certain _inequalities_ are to be ended. Valleys are to be exalted, and
mountains are to be made low. There is to be a levelling! Men are to be
equal in freedom and opportunity.

Certain _crookednesses_ are to be ended. They are to be "made straight."
Society has become warped with the heat of lust, and the fierce fever of
competition, and the hot, devouring fires of greed. When the Lord is
enthroned the fires will be put out, the heat will pass, and the twisted
fellowships will be rectified.

Certain _roughnesses_ are to be ended. Class works against class with
jagged edge, like the teeth of a saw. They tear and rend one another, and
the family of God is always bleeding. These "rough places" are to be "made
plain." We are to "work in to one another," smoothly, congenially, in a
frictionless peace.

And this Lord is coming, coming every day, and "His arm shall rule for
Him." "Say unto the cities of Judah--Behold your God!"



JULY The Eighth

_WHAT MANNER OF MAN?_

MATTHEW xi. 7-15.


There are some men who are only as _desert reeds_! They move to the breath
of the desert wind. They bend before it, no matter in what way it may be
blowing. They never resist the wind. They never become "hiding places from
the wind," stemming a popular drift. They are the victims of passing
opinions, and are swayed by the current passions.

And some men are "_clothed in soft raiment_"! They shrink from the rough
fustian, the labourer's cotton smock, the leather suit of George Fox. They
are ultra-"finicky." They are afraid of the mire. They touch the sorrows
of the world with a timid finger, not with the kindly, healing grasp of a
surgeon.

And other men are "_prophets_"! They have a secret fellowship with the
Infinite. When we listen to them it is like putting one's ear to the
seashell: we catch the sound of the ocean roll. "The voice of the Great
Eternal dwells in their mighty tones."

And others are "_children of the Kingdom_." They are greater than the old
prophets, because the mystic voice has become a Presence, and they have
"seen the Lord." The veil has been rent, and they "walk in the light" as
"children of light."



JULY The Ninth

_SCHOLARS IN CHRIST'S SCHOOL_

"_He taught His disciples._"
--MARK ix. 30-37.


And my Lord will teach me. He will lead me into "the deep things" of God.
There is only one school for this sort of learning, and an old saint
called it the Academy of Love, and it meets in Gethsemane and Calvary, and
the Lord Himself is the teacher, and there is room in the school for thee
and me.

But the disciples were not in the mood for learning. They were not
ambitious for heavenly knowledge, but for carnal prizes, not for wisdom,
but for place. "They disputed one with another who was the greatest." And
that spirit is always fatal to advancement in the school of Christ. Our
petty ambitions close the door and windows of our souls, and the heavenly
light can find no entrance. We turn Gethsemane into "a place of strife,"
and we carry our clamour even to Calvary itself. From this, and all other
sinful folly, good Lord, redeem us!

They who would be great scholars in this school must become "as little
children." Through the child-like spirit we attain unto God-like wisdom.
By humility is honour and life.



JULY The Tenth

_THE GREAT RENUNCIATION_

MATTHEW xvii. 1-13.


What if the Transfiguration was the type of the purposed consummation of
every life? If we had remained "without sin," it may be that we should
have gradually ripened up to a moment when we should have become
transfigured, and in the surpassing brilliance have been translated to
higher planes of being. Perhaps our Lord had reached this material
consummation, and was now on the wonderful border land, and could by
choice slip into "the glory!"

But He made another choice. And this was, of a truth, the "great
renunciation!" He turned His back on the glory, and deliberately faced the
darkening way which led to Calvary and the grave. I do not wonder that His
mysterious visitors spake with Him "of the decease which He should
accomplish at Jerusalem." He could talk about nothing else! He "set His
face to go."

And in my Master's choice of death I find my hope of life. Through "the
dark gate" I can find "the mount." My transfiguration is made possible in
His humiliation. If my Lord had never descended I could never have
ascended. If He had abode on the mount I should have remained in my sin.
He has "opened to me the gates of righteousness."



JULY The Eleventh

_THE FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM_

"_He that hath the bride is the bridegroom._"
--JOHN iii. 23-36.


We ministers sometimes speak of "my church." I occasionally read of Mr.
So-and-So's church! I know that the phrase is colloquially used, but
nevertheless, it is unfortunate. Words that are perversely used tend to
pervert the spirit. And this phrase tends to displace the Bridegroom. It
helps to make us obtrusive, unduly aggressive, when we ought to be
reverently hiding our faces with our wings. The Bride is His!

"_But the friend of the bridegroom._" That is my place, and that is my
dignity. And what a title it is, making me a member of the finest and most
select aristocracy in heaven or on earth! The "friend of the bridegroom"
used to carry messages to the bride, to share in the wooing, and to help
to bring the wedding about. And that, too, is my gracious office, to be a
match-maker for my Lord, to testify concerning Him, to speak His praises,
until the soul "fall in love" with Him.

"_He must increase, but I must decrease._" Yes, when the sun is rising the
moon becomes dim! When the glory of the Bridegroom breaks upon the bride
He becomes "all in all," "the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether
lovely."



JULY The Twelfth

_PREPARING HIS SERVANTS_

JOHN i. 35-51.


Our Lord does not stumble upon His disciples by accident. His discoveries
are not surprises. He knows where His nuggets lie. Before He calls to
service He has been secretly preparing the servant. "I girded thee, though
thou hast not known Me."

He knew all about Simon. "_Thou art Simon_"--just a _listener_, not yet a
strong, bold doer: a man of many opinions not yet consolidated into the
truth of experimental convictions. "_Thou shalt be called Peter._" Simon
become Peter! Loose gravel become hard rock! Hear-says become the
"verilies" of unshakable experience! The Lord proclaims our glorious
possibilities.

And He knew all about Nathanael. "_When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw
thee._" "In that secret meditation of thine, when thy wishes and desires
were being born, 'I saw thee!'" "When others saw nothing, I had fellowship
with thee in the secret place."

And He knows all about thee and me. "I know My sheep." We do not take Him
by surprise. He does not come in late, and find the performance half over!
He is in at our beginnings, when grave issues are being born. "I am
Alpha."



JULY The Thirteenth

_PLAIN GLASS_

"_They were fishers._"
--MATTHEW iv. 12-22.


And so our Lord went first to the fishing-boats and not to the schools.
Learning is apt to be proud and aggressive, and hostile to the
simplicities of the Spirit. There is nothing like plain glass for letting
in the light! And our Lord wanted transparent media, and so He went to the
simple fishermen on the beach. "God hath chosen the foolish things of the
world."

And by choosing labouring men our Master glorified labour. He Himself had
worn the workman's dress, and the garment which the King wears becomes
regal attire. Yes, the workingman, if he only knew it, is wearing the
imperial robe. He is one of the kinsmen of the Lord of Glory!

Our Lord took the fisherman's humble calling, and made it the symbol of
spiritual service. "_I will make you fishers of men._" And He will do the
same for thee and me. He will turn our daily labour into an apocalypse,
and through its ways and means He will make us wise in the ministry of the
kingdom. He will make the material the handmaid of the spiritual, and
through the letter He will lead us into the secret places of the soul.



JULY The Fourteenth

_THE POSSIBILITIES OF THE UNLIKELY_

MATTHEW ix. 1-13.


A Disciple from among the publicans! In what waste places our Lord Jesus
finds His jewels! What exquisite possibilities Ruskin saw in a pinch of
common dust! What radiant glory the lapidary can see in the rough,
unpolished gem! The Lord loves to go into the unlikely place, and lead
forth His saints. "In the wilderness shall waters break out!"

We must prayerfully cultivate this sacred confidence in the possibilities
of the unlikely. We can never be successful helpers of the Lord unless we
can see the diamond in the soot, and the radiant saint in the disregarded
publican. It is a most gracious art to cultivate, this of discerning a
man's possible excellencies even in the blackness of his present shame. To
see the future best in the present worst, that is the true perception of a
child of light.

"O give us eyes to see like Thee!" Well, this is the medium of
vision:--"Blessed are the pure in heart, for _they shall see_ God," and
the god-like, even in the wilderness of sin. "Anoint thine eyes with
eye-salve, that thou may'st see!"



JULY The Fifteenth

_THE DAILY CROSS_

LUKE ix. 18-26.


Our Lord never bribes His disciples by promising them ways of sunny ease.
He does not buy them with illicit gold. He does not put the glittering
crown upon the entrance-gate, and hide the cross behind the wall. No: on
the very first stage of the sacred pilgrimage there falls "the shadow of
the Cross." "_Let him take up his cross daily, and follow Me._"

And yet, the Lord's blessing is hidden in the apparent curse. In the act
of bearing the cross we increase our strength. That is the heartening
paradox of grace. Virtuous energies pass from our very burdens into our
spirits, and thus "out of the eater comes forth meat." We bravely shoulder
our load, and lo! a mystic breath visits the heart, and a strange facility
attends our goings! The dead cross becomes a tree of life, and a secret
vitality renews our souls.

How foolish, then, O heart of mine, to avoid and evade Thy cross! Refuse
the burden, and thou declinest the strength! Ignore the duty, and thou
shalt feel no inspiration! Carefully husband thy blood, and thou shalt
remain for ever anæmic! But lose thy life, and thou shalt find it!



JULY The Sixteenth

_THE VINE AND THE BRANCH_

JOHN xv. 1-16.


I need the Lord. What can a branch do apart from the vine? It may retain a
certain, momentary greenness, but death is advancing apace. And there are
multitudes of professing Christians who are like detached branches; their
spiritual life is ebbing away: they do not startle the beholder and cause
him to exclaim, "How full of life!" They do not _strike_ at all! They have
no splendid "_force_ of character," and they therefore exercise no
arresting witness for the King. They are not "abiding" in the Eternal, and
therefore there is no powerful pulse from the Infinite. "Apart from Me ye
can do nothing!"

And my Lord needs me. For the vine has need of the branch! The vine
expresses itself in the branch, and comes to manifestation in leaf, and
flower, and fruit. And my Lord would manifest Himself in me, and cause my
branch to be heavy with the glorious fruits of His grace. And if I deprive
Him of the branch, and deny Him this means of expression, I am "limiting
the Holy One of Israel." "My son, give Me thine heart!"

Lord, help me to abide in Thee! Save me from the follies of a fatal
independence! Good Lord, "Abide in me."



JULY The Seventeenth

_THE DYING OF SELF_

JOHN xii. 12-36.


"Except a corn of wheat ... die!" Yes, it is through death we pass to
life. Discipleship in which there is no death can never be truly alive.
The nipping winter is essential to the green and flowery spring. No tomb,
no resurrection glory! In every life there must be a grave, and self must
be buried within it.

We must die to self _in our prayers_. In many prayers self is obtrusive
and aggressive from end to end. It is self, self, self! That self must be
crucified. We must make more room for others in our supplications. On our
knees the egotist must die, and the altruist be born. And "if it die, it
bringeth forth much fruit"! There are multitudes of professing Christians
who would experience a wonderful resurrection if they were more "given to
hospitality" in their communion with the Lord.

And if self die in our prayers, nowhere else will it be seen. That which
is truly slain when we are upon our knees will not reassert itself when we
return to common ways of work and service. And, therefore, let the corn of
wheat fall into the ground and die!



JULY The Eighteenth

_THE MESMERISM OF THE WORLD_

MATTHEW xix. 23-30.


Material possessions multiply our spiritual difficulties. It is hard for a
rich man "_to enter into the kingdom of heaven_." For what is the kingdom?
It is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." It is easy
for a rich man to appear respectable, but how hard is it to be holy! He
may surround himself with comforts, but how hard to get into peace! He may
move in the cold gleam of a glittering happiness, but how hard to get into
the rich, warm quietness of an abiding joy! Yes, our material possessions
so easily range themselves as ramparts between us and our destined
spiritual wealth.

And if we find that any material thing so mesmerizes us that we are held
in fatal bondage, we are to sacrifice it. "If thine eye offend thee, pluck
it out, and cast it from thee!" Whatever interposes itself between us and
our Lord must go! It is a hard way, but it leads to a sound and boisterous
health. We verily "receive an hundredfold!" We lose "a thing," and gain a
grace. We lose fickle sensations and gain abounding inspiration. We lose
the world, and gain the Lord!



JULY The Nineteenth

_THE WRATH OF THE LAMB_

JOHN ii. 13-22.


The narrative of the cleansing follows the story of the wedding-feast. In
the one the Lord has taken the spirit of the sanctuary into a worldly
feast, and thereby illumined and glorified the feast. In the other, the
spirit of the world has invaded the sanctuary, and thereby defiled and
dishonoured it. The spirit of worldliness, like an unclean, insurgent
flood, would enter and possess the entire realm of human life and service.
And here it converted a legitimate convenience into an unhallowed
business. It transformed a needful expedient into an unholy end. It fixed
its tables in the very courts of the Temple, and exalted the quest of
money above the worship of God.

"_And He made a scourge of cords._" And is this "the Lamb of God"? Yes,
"the Lamb of God" is also "the lion of Judah." The mild sunshine can
become focussed into scorching flame! As soon as blessings touch sin they
become curses. "For this was the Son of Man manifested, that He might
destroy the works of the devil."

My soul, remember thou the scourge of thy Lord, and do not trifle in His
holy place! Seek thou the clean hands and the pure heart, and the thunders
of Sinai shall come to thee as beatific music from the hill.



JULY The Twentieth

_DEFILING THE HOLY PLACE_

MARK xi. 11-19.


It was a teaching of the old Rabbis that no one should make a thoroughfare
of the Temple, or enter it with the dust upon his feet. The teaching was
full of sacred significance, however far their practice may have departed
from its truth.

Let me not use the Temple as a mere passage to something else. Let me not
use my religion as an expedient for more easily reaching "the chief seats"
among men. Let me not put on the garments of worship in order that I may
readily and quickly fill my purse. Let me not make the sanctuary "a short
cut" to the bank!

And let me not carry the dust of the world on to the sacred floor. Let me
"wipe my feet." Let me sternly shake off some things--all frivolity,
easeful indifference, the spirit of haste and self-seeking. Let me not
defile the courts of the Lord.

And let me remember that "the whole earth is full of His glory."
Everywhere, therefore, I am treading the sacred floor! Lord, teach me this
high secret! Then shall I not demean the Temple into a market, but I shall
transform the market into a temple. "Lo, God is in this place, and I knew
it not!"



JULY The Twenty-first

_PURIFYING THE SANCTUARY_

2 CHRONICLES xxix. 1-11, 15-19.


Worship has vital connections with work. There are nerve-relationships
between the heart and the hand. The condition of the sanctuary is
reflected in the state of the empire. If there is uncleanness in "the holy
place," there will be blight and degeneracy among the people. The fatal
seeds of national instability and decay are not found in economics; they
are found in the sanctuary. "Until I went into the sanctuary ... then
understood I!"

Hezekiah cleansed "the house of the Lord." He cast forth the filthiness
out of the holy place. He ushered in his golden age with the reformation
of worship. He recalled exiled and white-robed Piety to her appointed
throne. He began the re-establishment of right by recognizing the rights
of God. He gave the Lord His due! All our rights are born out of our
"being right" with God! We begin to be rich when we cease to rob God!

"_And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also._"
That is ever so. Our real songs begin with our sacrifices. We enter the
realm of music when we enter the realm of self-surrender. A willing
offering, on a clean altar, introduces the soul into "the joy of the
Lord."



JULY The Twenty-second

_VISIONS AND TASKS_

2 CHRONICLES xxxiv. 1-11.


Josiah "_began to seek after God_." The other day I saw a young art
student copying one of Turner's pictures in the National Gallery. His eyes
were being continually lifted from his canvas to his "master." He put
nothing down which he had not first seen. He was "seeking after" Turner!

And thus it was with Josiah. His eyes were "ever toward the Lord!" He
studied the "ways" of the Lord, in order that he might incarnate them in
national life and practice. Wise doings always begin in clear seeing. We
should be far more efficient in practice if we were more diligently
assiduous in vision. It is never a waste of time to "look unto Him."
Looking is a most needful part of our daily discipline. "What I say unto
you, I say unto all, _Watch_!"

And because Josiah saw the holiness of the Lord he saw the uncleanness of
the people. He had a vision of God's holy place, and he therefore saw the
defilement of the material worship.

"_In the twelfth year he began to purge Judah._" Yes, that is the
sequence. The reformer follows the seer. We shall begin to sweep the
streets of our own city when we have gazed upon the glories of the holy
city, the New Jerusalem.



JULY The Twenty-third

_A GREAT SOUL AT PRAYER_

2 CHRONICLES vi. 12-21.


Let me reverently study this great prayer in order that, when I go to the
house of God, I may be able to enrich its ministry by the wealth of my own
supplications.

Solomon prayed that the eyes of the Lord might be open toward the house
"day and night." Like the eyes of a mother upon her child! Like the eyes
of a lover upon his beloved! And therefore it is more than protective
vision; shall we reverently say that it is _inventive_ vision, devising
gracious surprises, anticipating needs, preparing love-gifts; it is sight
which is both insight and foresight, ever inspecting and prospecting for
the loved one's good.

And Solomon prayed that God's ear might be open to the cry of His people's
need. "_Hear Thou from Thy dwelling-place._" He prayed that the house of
God might be the place of open communion. That is ever the secret of
peace, and therefore of power. If I know that I have correspondence with
the Holy One, I shall walk and work as a child of light. If God hear me,
then I can sing!

And Solomon prays for the grace of forgiveness. He prays for the sense of
sweet emancipation which is the gift of grace. It is the miracle of
renewal, and it ought to happen every time we open the doors of the
sanctuary.



JULY The Twenty-fourth

_LOVE OF THE SANCTUARY_

PSALM lxxxiv.


Gracious is the strength of this man's desire for the holy place. He
covets the privilege of the very sparrow which builds its nest beneath the
sacred eaves! When he is away from the Temple its worship and music haunt
his mind and soul. It wooes him in the market-place. Its insistent call is
with him by the fireside. Yes, "in his heart are the highways to Zion!"

And the permanency of this devotional mood transfigures every place. It
turns "_the valley of weeping_" into "_a place of springs_." The colour of
any place is largely determined by our moods. It is surprising what
treasures we find when our soul is full of light. What discoveries old
Scrooge made when the Christmas mood possessed his own heart! When we
carry about the spirit of the sanctuary, we convert every spot into rich
and hallowed ground.

"_I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God than to dwell in
the tents of wickedness._" Better to have the temple-spirit, even as a
menial, than the unhallowed heart in the glittering high places of sin.
"God's worst is better than the devil's best."



JULY The Twenty-fifth

_NO TEMPLE THEREIN_

"_And I saw no temple therein!_"
--REVELATION xxi. 22-27.


And that because it was all temple! "Every place was hallowed ground."
There was no merely localized Presence, because the Presence was
universal. God was realized everywhere, and therefore the little
meeting-tent had vanished, and in place of the measurable tabernacle there
were the immeasurable and God-filled heavens.

Even here on earth I can measure my spiritual growth by the corresponding
enlargement of my temple. What is the size of my sanctuary? Am I moving
toward the time when nothing shall be particularly hallowed because all
will be sanctified? Are the six days of the week becoming increasingly
like the seventh, until people can see no difference between my Monday
manners and my Sunday mood? And how about places? Do I still speak of
"religion being religion," and "business being business," or is something
of the sanctuary getting into my shop, and is the exchange becoming a
side-chapel of the Temple?

"_And the Lamb is the light thereof._" When we have done with the local
temple we can dispose of its candles. When we pass out of the twilight
into the morning "the stars retire." The fore-gleams will change into the
wondrous glory of the ineffable day.



JULY The Twenty-sixth

_THE WELLS OF SALVATION_

JOHN iii. 1-21.


The springs of our redemption are found in infinite love. "God is love!"
Redemption was not inspired by anger, but by grace. We do not contemplate
an angry God, demanding a victim, but a compassionate Father making a
sacrifice. At one extreme of our golden text is eternal "love," and at the
other extreme is "eternal life." What if the two are one? Etymologically,
"love" and "life" are akin. What if they are only two names for the same
thing?

To "believe" in the love is to receive the life. For when I believe in a
person's love I open my doors to the lover. And to believe in the love of
God is to let the heavenly Lover in. And with love comes a wonderful
tropical air--light, and warmth, and air; and "all things become new!" It
is the letting in of the spring, and things which have been in wintry
bondage awake, and arise from their graves.

And so I "_enter into the kingdom of God_." I become a native of a new and
marvellous country. I begin to be acclimatized in the realm of the blest.
And I "_see_ the kingdom of God." Spiritual perceptions become mine, and I
gaze upon the mystic glories of the home of God.



JULY The Twenty-seventh

_THE WORK OF FAITH_

1 JOHN v. 1-13.


And so by belief _I find life_. I do not obtain the vitalizing air through
controversy, or clamour, or idle lamentation, but by opening the window!
Faith opens the door and window of the soul to the Son of God. It can be
done without tears, it can be done without sensationalism. "If any man
will open the door, I will come in." "And he that hath the Son hath the
life."

And by belief _I gain my victories_. "Who is he that overcometh ... but he
that believeth?" It is not by flashing armour that we beat the devil, but
by an invincible life. On these battlefields a mystic breath does more
destruction than all our fine and costly expedients. To believe is to
obtain the winning spirit, and every battle brings its trophies to our
feet.

And by belief _I gain assurance_. "He that believeth ... hath the witness
in him." So many Christians fight in doubt and indecision, and their
uncertainty impairs their strength and skill. It is the man who can
quietly say "I know" who is terrible in battle and who drives his foes in
confusion from the field.



JULY The Twenty-eighth

_ALL THINGS NEW!_

2 CORINTHIANS v. 14-21.


Here is a new constraint! "The love of Christ constraineth me." The love
of Christ _carries me along like a crowd_. I am taken up in its mighty
movement and swept along the appointed road! Or it _arrests me_, and makes
me its willing prisoner. It lays a strong hand upon me, and I have no
option but to go. A gracious "necessity is laid upon me." _I must!_

And here is a new world. "_Old things are passed away._" The man who is
the prisoner of the Lord's love will find himself in new and wonderful
scenery. Everything will wear a new face--God, man, self, the garden, the
sky, the sea! We shall look at all things through love-eyes, and it is
amazing in what new light a great love will set familiar things!
Commonplaces become beautiful when looked at through the lens of Christian
love. When we "walk in love" our eyes are anointed with "the eye-salve" of
grace.

And here is a new service. "We are ambassadors ... for Christ." When we
see our Lord through love-eyes, and then our brother, we shall yearn to
serve our brother in Christ. We shall intensely long to tell the
love-story of the Lord our Saviour. What we have seen, with confidence we
tell.



JULY The Twenty-ninth

_NAMES AND NATURES_

ROMANS viii. 1-10.


Men will recognize my Christianity by the sign of the Spirit of Christ.
And they will accept no other witness. I saw a plant-pot the other day,
full of soil, bearing no flower, but flaunting a stick on which was
printed the word "Mignonette." "Thou hast a name to live and art dead."
The world will take no notice of our labels and our badges: it is only
arrested by the flower and the perfume. "If any man hath not the Spirit of
Christ he is none of His."

And in the Spirit of Christ I shall best deal with "_the things of the
flesh_." There are some things which are best overcome by neglecting them.
To give them attention is to give them nourishment. Withdraw the
attention, and they sicken and die. And so I must seek the fellowship of
the Spirit. That friendship will destroy the other. "Ye cannot serve God
and Mammon." If I am in communion with the Holy One the other will pine
away, and cease to trouble me.

Lord, make my spirit a kinsman of Thine! Let the intimacy be ever deeper
and dearer. "Draw me nearer, blessed Lord," until in nearness to Thee I
find my peace, my joy, and my crown.



JULY The Thirtieth

_SIN AS POISON_

NUMBERS xxi. 4-9.


And this is the familiar teaching, that sin is a serpent. It possesses a
deadly poison. We may give it pleasant names, but we are only ornamenting
death. A chemist might put a poison into a chaste and elegant flask, but
he has in no wise changed its nature. And when we name sin by philosophic
euphemisms, and by less exacting terminologies--such as "cleverness,"
"smartness," or "fault," or "misfortune," we are only changing the flask,
and the diabolical essence remains the same.

And, then, sin is a serpent because it is so subtle. It creeps into my
presence almost before I know it. Its approaches are so insidious, its
expedients so full of guile. "Therefore, I say unto all, Watch!"

But in Christ the old serpent is dead! Christ "became sin," and in Him sin
was crucified. The thing that bit is bitten, and its nefarious power
destroyed. But out of Christ the serpent is still busy and malicious,
claiming what he presumes to call his own.

Let me, then, dwell in Christ, where sin "has no more dominion."
"Whosoever believeth shall not perish but have life."



JULY The Thirty-first

_THE CLEAN FLAME OF LOVE_

1 JOHN iv. 4-14.


This aged apostle cannot get away from the counsels of love. All his
mental movements circle about this "greatest thing in the world." Once he
would "call down fire upon men"; now the only fire he knows is the pure
and genial flame of love. Beautiful is it when our fires become cleaner as
we get older, when temper changes to compassion, when malice becomes
goodwill, when an ill-controlled conflagration becomes a homely fireside.

And all the love we acquire we must get from the altars of God. "We love
because He first loved us." We can find it nowhere else. "Love is of God."
Why, then, not seek it in the right place? Why seek for palms in arctic
regions, or for icebergs in the tropics? God is the country of love, and
in His deep mines there are riches "unsearchable."

And the gracious law of life is this, that every acquisition of love
increases our powers of discernment. "He that loveth knoweth...!" It is as
though every jewel we find gives us an extra lens for the discovery of
finer jewels still. And thus the love-life is a continual surprise, and
the surprise will be eternal, for the object of the wonder is the infinite
love of God.



AUGUST The First

_GOD AS OUR ALLY!_

ROMANS viii. 31-39.


"If God is for us!" But we must make sure of that. Is God on the field,
taking sides with us? Have we been so busy with our preparations, so
concerned with many things, and everybody, that we have forgotten our
greatest possible Ally? Is He on the field, and on which side! My soul, go
on thy knees, and settle this in secret. That purpose of thine! That
choice of thine! That work of thine! Is it hallowed with thy Lord's
approval and seal?

And "if God is for us, who can be against us?" Nothing else counts. It is
ever a foolish and futile thing to count the heads in the opposing ranks.
"God is always on the side of the big battalions!" It is a black lie of
the devil! We need not fear the big battalions if only we are securely in
the right. We are not to count heads, but to weigh and estimate causes.
Which of the causes provides a tent for the Lord of Hosts? Where has the
truth its waving flag? Stand near that flag, my soul, and thou wilt be
near thy Lord! And nothing shall separate thee from His love, and leave
thee weak and isolated on the field. Thou shalt be "more than conqueror"
in Him who loves thee, and will love thee for evermore.



AUGUST The Second

_BY JACOB'S WELL_

JOHN iv. 1-15.


A weary woman and a weary Lord! But the Lord was only weary in body; the
woman was dry and exhausted in soul. Her heart was like some charred
chamber after a destructive fire. All its furniture was injured, and some
of it was almost burnt away. For sin had been blazing in the secret place,
and had scorched the delicacies of the spirit, and the inward satisfaction
was gone. And now she was very weary, and her daily walk had become a most
tiresome march.

And the Lord, with sympathetic insight, discerned the inward dryness.
There was no sound of holy contentment, no melody of joyful, spiritual
desire. There was only the cold, clammy silence of death. "He knew what
was in man." And there was no "river of water of life" making glad the
streets of this woman's soul.

And so He would bring to her the waters of spiritual satisfaction, the
holy well of eternal life. "In the wilderness shall waters break out, and
springs in the desert." The Lord is about to work a miracle of grace,
changing dull pang into healing peace, and suffocated desire into soaring
fellowship with God. He is about to transform an outlawed woman into one
of the "elect saints." How will He do it? Let us watch Him.



AUGUST The Third

_CHANGING ASKING INTO THIRSTING_

"_Go, call thy husband!_"
--JOHN iv. 16-30.


I never supposed that the transformation would begin here. I thought that
there were some words which would remain unspoken. But here our Master
speaks a word which only deepens the weariness of the woman, and irritates
the sore of her galling yoke. What is He doing?

He is seeking to change the sense of wretchedness into the sense of sin!
He is seeking to change weariness into desire! _He wants to make the woman
thirst!_ And so He puts His finger upon her sin. He cannot give the
heavenly water to lips that merely ask for it. "Sir, give me this water!"
No, it cannot be had for the asking, only for the thirsting! And so the
gracious Lord turns the woman's eyes upon her own sinful life, in order
that in the heat of a fierce shame she might cry out, "I thirst for God,
for the living God!" And sure I am that, before the Lord had done with
her, this quiet, lone cry leapt from her lips, and in immediate response
to the cry she was given a deep draught from the eternal well.

And, good Lord, arouse my sense of my sin that I, too, may thirst for Thy
water! Now, make me thirst for it, and in the thirst receive it!



AUGUST The Fourth

_HIDDEN MANNA_

"_I have meat to eat that ye know not of._"
--JOHN iv. 31-42.


And what sort of meat is this? The Lord found secret refreshment in
feeding other people. In vitalizing the woman of Samaria He restored His
own soul. The disciples were amazed when they returned to find that the
weariness had gone out of His face, and that He looked like one who had
been at a feast!

And that is the law of life. "_My meat is to do the will._" There is a
secret nutriment in the bread we give away. The Lord gives us to eat of
the "hidden manna" whenever we are seeking the refreshment of our fellows.
Distributed bread has a sacramental efficacy for our own souls. The man
who feeds the hungry shall himself be "satisfied as with marrow."

And these ways of service are open on every side. There are millions of
weary people waiting, like the woman at the well. "_Lift up your eyes, and
look on the fields: for they are white already to harvest!_" Be it mine to
be a minister in the mighty service, and in the ways of obedience let me
find delights and delicacies for my own soul.

                          "Bread of Heaven,
                    Feed me till I want no more!"



AUGUST The Fifth

_BROOKS BY THE WAY_

ISAIAH xii.


The wells of the Lord are to be found where most I need them. The Lord of
the way knows the pilgrim life, and the wells have been unsealed just
where the soul is prone to become dry and faint. At the foot of the hill
Difficulty was found a spring! Yes, these health-springs are lifting their
crystal flood in the cheerless wastes of evil antagonisms and exhausting
grief.

Sometimes I am foolish, and in my need I assume that the well is far away.
I knew a farmer who for a generation had carried every pail of water from
a distant well to meet the needs of his homestead. And one day he sunk a
shaft by his own house door, and to his great joy he found that the water
was waiting at his own gate! My soul, thy well is near, even here! Go not
in search of Him! Thy pilgrimage is ended, the waters are at thy feet!

But I must "_draw_ the water out of the wells of salvation." The hand of
faith must lift the gracious gift to the parched lips, and so refresh the
panting soul. "I will _take_ the cup of salvation." Stretch out thy "lame
hand of faith," and take the holy, hallowing energy offered by the Lord.



AUGUST The Sixth

_WATERS OF CONTENTMENT_

ISAIAH iv. 1-7.


The refreshing waters are offered to "everyone" that is thirsty. The
evangel is like some clear bugle peal, sounded on some commanding upland,
and which is heard alike in palace and cottage, in school and at the mill,
by the child of plenty and by the child of want. "Ho, everyone!" The
appeal is to the common heart, whether the setting be squalor or
splendour, whether the soul faints in the glare of the prosperous noon, or
under the chill of the burdensome night. "Ho, everyone that thirsteth!"

And the waters may be ours "without money and without price." We have not
to earn them by the sweat of body, mind, or soul. We have not to make a
toilsome pilgrimage, on bleeding feet, to some distant Lourdes, where the
sacred healer abides. No, we are asked to pay nothing, and for the simple
reason that we "have nothing wherewith to pay." The reviving grace is
given to us "freely," and all that we have to present is our thirst.

And yet we spend and spend, we labour and labour, but we buy no bread of
contentment, and the waters of satisfaction are far away. The satisfying
bread cannot be bought; it can only be begged. The water of life cannot be
taken from a cistern; it must be drunk at the spring.



AUGUST The Seventh

_RIVERS FROM THE SNOW_

REVELATION xxii. 1-7, 17-21.


The water of life flows out of the throne. Grace has its rise in sovereign
holiness. This river is born amid the virgin snow. All true love springs
out of spotless purity. "Love" from any other source is illegitimately
wearing a stolen name. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!" That is the first
note in the song of redemption. In that burning whiteness I discern the
possibility of my own sanctification.

For the grace which flows out of sovereign holiness is a minister of the
holy Lord to make me holy. If it were not perfectly pure it would itself
be an agent of defilement. But it is "clear as crystal," and therefore it
purifies and fertilizes wherever it flows. Rare trees grow upon its banks,
and grace-fruits make every season beautiful. "Everything shall live
whither the river cometh."

But without the river my soul shall be "as an unwatered garden." My life
shall be a realm of perpetual drought. Things may begin to grow, but they
shall speedily droop and die. The heavenly Husbandman shall find no fruit
when He walks amid the garden in the cool of the day. And therefore, my
soul, look to the river which flows from the throne! "There is a river,
the streams whereof make glad the city of God," and that river is for
thee!



AUGUST The Eighth

_THE SCARLET SIN_

ISAIAH i. 10-20.


How can we deal with glaring sin, with sin that is "scarlet," that is "red
like crimson"? And when the red stain has soaked into the very texture of
the character, and every fibre is stupefied, what can we do then? Let me
listen.

"_Wash you._" But ordinary washings will not suffice. The ministry of
education will fail. Art, and literature, and music will leave the
internal stain undisturbed. They may impart a polish, but the polish shall
be like the gloss on badly-washed linen. And the ministry of work will
fail. Work never yet made a foul soul clean. There is "a fountain opened
for all uncleanness." I must wash "in the blood of the Lamb." That red
sacrifice can wash out the deep red stain.

"_Cease to do evil._" Yes, I must turn my back on the roads of defilement.
There must be a sharp decision, and an immediate reversal of my ways.
"Halt!" "Right about turn!" "Quick march!"

"_Learn to do well!_" Yes, let me diligently learn, like a child at
school, until the deliberative becomes the instructive, and "practice
makes perfect."



AUGUST The Ninth

_GOD'S REQUIREMENTS_

"_What doth the Lord require of thee?_"
--MICAH vi. 1-8.


"To do justly." Then I must not be so eager about my rights as to forget
my duties. For my duties are just the observance of my neighbour's rights.
And to see my neighbour's rights I must cultivate his "point of view." I
must look out of his windows! "Look not every man on his own things, but
every man also on the things of others."

"_And to love mercy._" And mercy is justice _plus_! And it is the "plus"
which makes the Christian. His cup "runneth over." He gives, like his
Lord, "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over." There
is always "a little extra" for Christ's sake! And "blessed are the
merciful."

"_And to walk humbly with thy God._" And there I am at the root of the two
graces which have been enjoined upon me. The lowly friend of the Lord will
most surely be both just and merciful. He cannot help it. The fragrance
will cling to him as the fragrance of the orange clings to him who labours
in the fruitful groves of Spain.



AUGUST The Tenth

_GOOD FRUIT_

LUKE vi. 43-49.


My Lord seeks "good fruit." It must be sound. No disease must lurk within
it. My virtues are so often touched with defilement. There is a little
untruth even in my truth. There is a little jealousy even in my praise.
There is a little superciliousness even in my forbearance. There is a
little pride even in my piety. It is not "whole," not holy. God demands
sound fruit.

And "good fruit" demands "a good tree." We must not look for truth from an
untrue soul. If the bullet-mould is deformed, all the bullets will share
its deformity. First get the mould right, and every bullet will share its
rectitude. When the soul is "true," all our words, and deeds, and gestures
will be "of the truth," and will be true indeed. "Make the tree good."

And that is just what our Lord proclaims His willingness to do. He does
not begin with effects, but with causes; not with fruit, but with trees.
He does not begin with our speech, but with the speaker; not with conduct,
but with character. And, blessed be His name, He can transform "corrupt
trees" into "good trees," until it shall be said: "He that hath turned the
world upside down has come hither also."



AUGUST The Eleventh

_THE CONSECRATION OF THE WILL_

JOHN v. 1-18.


My Lord demands my will in the ministry of healing. "_Art thou willing_ to
be made whole?" He will not carry me as a log. When my schoolmaster put a
belt around me, and held me over the water with a rope, and taught me to
swim, I had to use my arms. The condition of help was endeavour. And so in
my salvation. I have always will-power sufficient to pray and to try. In
the effort of faith I open the door to the energies of God. Grace flows in
the channels of the determined will. "O, God, my heart is set!"

And my Lord demands my will in the living of the consecrated life. "Sin no
more!" I must "will" to be whole, and I must will to remain holy. And here
is the gracious law of the kingdom, that every time I exercise my will I
add to its power. Every difficulty overcome adds its strength to my
resources. Every enemy conquered marches henceforth in my own ranks. I go
"from strength to strength."

"God worketh in me to will!" The gracious Lord ever strengthens the will
that is willing. He transforms the frail reed into an iron pillar, and
makes trembling timidity bold as a lion.

    "Mighty Spirit, dwell with me,
     I myself would mighty be."



AUGUST The Twelfth

_MY LIFE AND HOPE_

JOHN v. 19-30.


Here is my reservoir. "_The Son hath life in Himself._" All vitality has
its source in Him. He is the enemy of death and the deadly. I can paint
the dead to look like life; I can use rouge for blood, and make the white
lips red, but it all remains clammy and cold. I can galvanize, but I
cannot vitalize. I can "break the ball of nard," and make perfume, "but
still the sleeper sleeps." "In Him is life." "In Christ shall all be made
alive!"

And here is my hope. "_The Son also quickeneth._" He is not only a
reservoir, He is a river. He is "the river of water of life." And His
blessed purpose is to flow into desolate places, converting deserts into
gardens, and making wildernesses to blossom as the rose.

And He will come my way if only I will "hear" and "believe." There is a
flippant hearing which, while it listens, laughs Him to scorn. There is a
cheap hearing which will venture nothing on His counsel. And there is the
hearing of faith, which simply "takes Him at His word," and in the
glorious venture experiences the unsealing of the fountain of eternal
life. "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely."



AUGUST The Thirteenth

_THE INNER ROOMS_

JOHN v. 31-47.


What should I think of a man who was contented to remain in the outer
halls and passages of Windsor Castle, when he was invited into the royal
precincts to have gracious communion with the King? And what shall I think
of men who are contented to "search the Scriptures" and "will not come" to
the Lord? They spend their life exploring the lobbies, when the Host and
the feast are waiting in the upper room!

And some men spend their days in criticism and they never advance to
worship. They are like unto one who should give his strength to the
deciphering of some time-worn inscription on the outer wall of some grand
cathedral, and who never treads the sacred floor in fruitful and enriching
awe.

And some men live in the senses, and not in the conscience, in the awful
presence of the great white throne. They are for ever seeking sensations,
and avoid the fellowship of duty. They ride about in the channel, and they
never come to the harbour. They have no settled moral home.

My Lord, help me to regard all good things as merely passages leading to
Thee! Let all good things bring me into intimate fellowship with Thee.



AUGUST The Fourteenth

_THE PARALYSIS OF THE SOUL_

LUKE v. 17-26.


The miracle done in the body is purposed to be a symbol of a grander
miracle to be wrought in the soul. "_That ye may know that the Son of Man
hath power on earth to forgive sins, then saith He...!_" He heals the
paralyzed body that we may know what He can do with a paralyzed soul. He
liberates the man who is bound by palsy that we may know what He can do
for a man who is bound by guilt. We are to reason from the less to the
greater, from the material type to the spiritual reality.

And so it is with all my Lord's doings in nature. They are a glorious
symbolism of what He will do in the spirit. "That ye may know how
beautiful the Son of Man can make the heart of man, then saith He to the
seeds of the spring-time, Come forth!" And so nature becomes a literature,
in which we see our possible inheritance in the Spirit.

But on our side it is all conditioned by faith. "There He could do no
mighty works because of their unbelief." Even in the miracles of the
Spirit our faith must co-operate. Divine grace and human faith can
transfigure the race. "Lord, increase our faith!" And everywhere, let
palsied souls be delivered, and attain to glorious freedom!



AUGUST The Fifteenth

_WITHERED LIMBS_

MARK iii. 1-8.


There are withered limbs of the spirit as well as of the body. There are
faculties and powers which are wasting away, sacred endowments which have
lost their vital circulation. In some lives the will is a withered limb.
In others it is the conscience. In others, again, it is the affections.
These splendid moral and spiritual powers are being dried up, and they
hang comparatively limp and useless in the life. They have been withered
by sin and sinful negligence.

And the Lord is the healer of withered limbs. He can deal with imprisoned
affections as the warm spring deals with the river which has been locked
in ice. He can minister to a stricken will, and make it as a benumbed hand
when the circulation has been restored. He can give it grip and tenacity.
And so with all our powers. He, who is the Life, can vitalize all!

But here again the remnant of our withered endowment must be used in the
healing. We must surrender to the Healer. We must obey. If the Lord says:
"Stretch forth thy hand," we must attempt the impossible! In this region
the impossible becomes possible in sanctified endeavour.



AUGUST The Sixteenth

_THE CHURCH AS AN INFIRMARY_

LUKE xiii. 10-17.


What infirmities gather together in the synagogue! What moral and
spiritual ailments are congregated in every place of worship! If the veil
of the flesh could be removed, and the inward life revealed, how we should
pity one another, and how we should pray! In how many lives should we
behold a spirit "bound together," who "could in no wise lift herself up!"
Wills like crushed reeds, consciences like broken vocal chords, hopes like
birds with injured wings, and hearts like ruined homes!

But the blessed Lord still goes into the synagogue; nay, He anticipates
our coming. And He is present "to heal the broken in heart," and to "bind
up his wounds." His touch "has still its ancient power." Still does the
gracious Master speak with authority. "Woman, thou art loosed from thine
infirmity!" And immediately she is "made straight."

Then why do so many spiritual cripples leave the synagogue cripples still?
Because they do not give the Healer a chance. No one can remain crooked
and broken in conscience and will who grips the hand of the Lord of Life.



AUGUST The Seventeenth

_THE PSALM OF PRAISE_

PSALM cvii. 1-15.


The miracle of deliverance must be followed by the psalm of praise. There
are multitudes who cry, "God be merciful!" who never cry, "God be
praised!" "There were none that returned to give thanks save this
Samaritan." Ten cleansed, and only one grateful! "Oh, that men would
praise the Lord for His goodness!" Many a blessing becomes stale because
it is not renewed by thanksgiving. Graces that are received ungratefully
droop like flowers deprived of rain. Yes, gratitude gives sustenance to
blessings already received. Therefore "in everything give thanks."

But emancipated lives are not only to break into praise before God, they
must exercise in confession before men. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say
so!" Unconfessed blessings become like the Dead Sea; refused an outlet
they lose their freshness and vitality. I am found by the Lord in order
that I, too, may be a seeker. I receive His peace in order that I may be a
peacemaker. I am comforted in order that I "may comfort others with the
comfort wherewith I am comforted of God." Have you ever received a
blessing; "pass it on!" Tell the story of thy deliverance to the enslaved,
that he, too, may find "the iron gate" swing open, and so attain his
freedom.



AUGUST The Eighteenth

_THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN_

"_Pray for the peace of Jerusalem._"
--PSALM cxxii.


And my Jerusalem is "the church of the living God." Do I carry her on my
heart? Do I praise God for her heritage, and for her endowment of
spiritual glory? And do I remember her perils, especially those parts of
her walls where the defences are very thin, and can be easily broken
through? Yes, has my Church any place in my prayer, or am I robbing her of
part of her intended possessions?

And is the _entire_ Jerusalem the subject of my supplication? Or do I only
think of a corner of it, just that part where my own little synagogue is
placed? I am a Congregationalist; do I remember the Anglican? I am an
Anglican; do I remember the Quaker? Am I thus concerned only with a small
section of Jerusalem, or does my intercession sweep the entire city?

"_They shall prosper that love thee._" I cannot be healthy if I am bereft
of fellowship. If I ignore the house of prayer I impoverish my home. The
peaceful glow of the fireside is not unrelated to the coals upon the
common altar. The sacrament is connected with my ordinary meal. To love
the Church of Christ is to become enriched with "the fulness of Christ."



AUGUST The Nineteenth

_IN GREEN PASTURES_

PSALM xxiii.


This little psalm has been called the nightingale of the psalms. It sings
"in the shade when all things rest." It makes music in the darkness; it
gives me "songs in the night." And what does it sing about?

It sings of God's bounty in food and rest. "_Green pastures_"; "_still
waters_." My Lord knows when my heart is faint, when it needs His reviving
food. He knows when my heart is tired and needs His sweet rest. "_He
restoreth my soul._"

And it sings of the God-appointed way across the hill. "_He leadeth me in
paths of righteousness._" He makes the right way clear. He walks the path
of duty with me. "_Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow I
will fear no evil, for Thou art with me._"

And it sings of the feast which the Lord serves in the very midst of my
foes. "_He spreadeth a table before me in the midst of mine enemies._" He
gives me the fat things of grace in the very presence of frowning
circumstances.

And it sings of the providence _which guards the rear_. "Goodness and
mercy shall follow me!" God's grace comes between me and my yesterdays. It
cuts off the heredity from the old Adam, and no far-off plague comes nigh
my dwelling.



AUGUST The Twentieth

_FEEDING THE FLOCK_

ISAIAH xl. 1-11.


Here is the gracious promise of provision. "_He shall feed His flock like
a Shepherd._" He knows the fields where my soul will be best nourished in
holiness. I am sometimes amazed at His choice. He takes me into an
apparent wilderness, but I find rich herbage on the unpromising plain. And
so I would rest in His choice even when it seems adverse to my good.

And here is the gracious promise of gentle discrimination. "_He shall
gather the lambs in His arm, and carry them in His bosom._" Says old
Trapp, "He hath a great care of His little ones, like as He had of the
weaker tribes. In their march through the Wilderness He put a strong tribe
to two weak tribes, lest they should faint or fail." Yes, "He knoweth our
frame." He will not lay upon us more than we can bear. At the back of
every commandment there is a promise of adequate resource. His askings are
also His enablings. The big duty means that we shall have a big lift. And
when we are tired He will lead on gently. Such is the grace and tenderness
of the Lord.



AUGUST The Twenty-first

_SATISFACTION_

"_My people shall be satisfied with My goodness._"
--JEREMIAH xxxi. 10-14.


And how unlike is all this to the feasts of the world! There is a great
show, but no satisfaction. There is much decorative china, but no
nutritious food or drink. "Every one that drinketh of this water shall
thirst again." We rise from the table, and our deepest cravings are
unappeased. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" We know. We have had a
condiment, but no meat; a showy menu-card, but no reviving feast.

Nothing but the goodness of the Lord can satisfy the soul. Whatever else
may be on the table of life, if this be absent we shall go away unfed. We
may have money, and pleasure, and success, and fame, but they are all
delusive husks if the grace of the Lord be absent.

This is the real furnishing of the feast. There are vast multitudes of
things I can do without if only I have the holy bread of life in the
gracious Presence of my Lord. In this sphere it is the Guest who makes the
table! "Thou, O Christ, art all I want!" "Having Him we have all things."
A glorious satisfaction possesses the soul, and though we may not increase
our worldly possessions, we do something better, we "grow in grace and in
the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."



AUGUST The Twenty-second

_THE SICK AND THE LOST_

EZEKIEL xxxiv. 11-16.


Surely everybody is included in this redemptive purpose of the Lord! He is
looking for everybody, for everybody finds a place in His holy quest.

He is seeking the "_lost_" sheep. The one that has wandered far away, and
now no longer hears the sound of the Shepherd's voice! The one that is
carelessly nibbling the herbage on the very edge of perdition! He is
looking for this one. Is He therefore looking for thee and me?

He is seeking "_that which was driven away_." Some hireling, some enemy of
the shepherd, drove it far away from the fold. "A thief and a robber," for
his own purposes, hath done this. And the Lord's sheep are driven away by
"principalities and powers," and by the violence of wicked men. Some
impure and unworthy professor of religion can drive a whole household from
the fellowship of the Church. And the Good Shepherd is seeking these. Is
He therefore looking for thee or me?

And He is seeking "_that which was sick_." And some of the Lord's sheep
are sickly. The chill of disappointment, or failure, or bereavement has
blown upon them, and they are "down." Or they have been feeding on illicit
pleasure. And the Lord is seeking such. Is He therefore seeking thee or
me?



AUGUST The Twenty-third

_NOT LOST IN THE FLOCK_

"_I know My sheep, and am known of mine._"
--JOHN x. 7-16.


There is mutual recognition, and in that recognition there is confidence
and peace.

"_I know my sheep._" He knows us one by one. My knowledge of the
individual wanes in proportion as the multitude is increased. The teacher
with the smaller class has the deepest intimacy with her scholars. The
individual is lost in the crowd. But not so with our Lord. There are no
"masses" in His sight. However big the crowd, even though it be "a
multitude which no man can number," we still remain individuals, known to
the Lord by name, and face, and personal need. If thou art away from the
fold, thy face is missed, and the Shepherd is away in search of thee!

"_And I am known of mine._" And the knowledge deepens with every day's
experience. There are false shepherds who can subtly mimic the Good
Shepherd, and in my early discipleship I am liable to be deceived. The
devil himself can array himself like a shepherd, and imitate the very
tones of the Lord. Therefore must I watch, and ever watch. But here is my
hope and inspiration. Every day I spend with my Good Shepherd sharpens my
discernments, enables me to see through the outer show of things, and to
discriminate between the false and the true.



AUGUST The Twenty-fourth

_THE LORD'S BODY_

"_I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do._"
--JOHN xvii. 1-11.


This quiet confession is in itself a token of our Lord's divinity. The
serenity in which He makes His claims is as stupendous as the claims
themselves. "Finished," perfected in the utmost refinement, to the last,
remotest detail! Nothing scamped, nothing overlooked, nothing forgotten!
Everything which concerns thy redemption and my redemption has been
accomplished. "It is finished!"

"_And now ... I come to Thee._" The visible Presence is withdrawn. There
is no longer in our midst a Jesus whose body we can bruise and crucify.
"_But these are in the world._" Yes, and His disciples are now His body.
He becomes reincarnated in them. If they refuse Him a body, He has none!
He looks through their eyes, listens through their ears, speaks through
their lips, ministers through their hands, goes on sacred pilgrimages with
their feet! "Know ye not that ye are the body?"

Does my discipleship offer my Lord a limb? Can He communicate with the
world through me? Does my discipleship multiply His powers of expression?
Has He more eyes, more ears, more hands because I am a member of His
Church? Or----?



AUGUST The Twenty-fifth

_IMPOTENT ENEMIES_

"_Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?_"
--ROMANS viii. 31-39.


Who can get between the love of Christ and me? What sharp dividing
minister can cleave the two in twain, and leave me like a dismembered and
dying branch?

Terrible experiences cannot do it. "_Tribulation, distress, persecution,
famine, nakedness, peril, or sword!_" All these may come about my house,
but they cannot reach the inner sanctuary where my Lord and I are closeted
in loving communion and peace. They may bruise my skin, nay, they may give
my body to be burned, but no flame can destroy the love of Jesus which
enswathes my soul with invisible defence.

And terrible ministers cannot do it. "_Angels, nor principalities, nor
powers._" These mysterious agents of darkness, for they must be the
legions of the evil one, are unable to quench the light and fire of my
Saviour's love. The devil can never blow out the lamp of grace.

And terrible death itself cannot do it. Death does not separate me from
Jesus; death is the Lord's minister to lead me into deeper privilege and
ripe experiences of grace and love. Therefore, "I will lay me down in
peace, and take my rest."



AUGUST The Twenty-sixth

_MISSING THE LORD_

"_Thou knowest not the time of thy visitation._"
--LUKE xix. 37-44.


Yes, that has been my sad experience. I have wasted some of my wealthiest
seasons. I have treated the hour as common and worthless, and the
priceless opportunity has passed.

There have been times when my Lord has come to me, and I have turned Him
away from my door. He so often journeys "incognito," and if I am
thoughtless I dismiss Him, and so lose the privilege of heavenly communion
and benediction. He knocks at my door as a Carpenter, and the humble
attire deceives me, and I treat Him with scant courtesy, and sometimes
with contempt. I know not the time of my visitation.

He comes to me in the guise of needy people--as sick, or hungry, or a
stranger, and I cannot be troubled with His presence. I dismissed Him as a
pauper, little knowing that I was turning away a millionaire! I knew not
the time of my visitation! "I was an hungered, and ye gave Me no meat,"
and so we missed the bread of life.

And so there is nothing for it, but to be always "on the watch." I must
treat everybody as though everybody was the Christ. And I must treat every
commonplace moment as though it were the home of the eternal.



AUGUST The Twenty-seventh

_WHAT ABOUT TO-MORROW?_

JOSHUA xxiv. 1-15.


It is not mine to worry about the coming day, but to fill the immediate
moment with radiant duty. My Lord is the Pioneer, the great Maker of
roads, and He will see to the appointments and provisions of the way. He
has His scouts, His advance guard, His miners and sappers opening the
highway across the waste! "I will send mine angel before thee!" "I will
send hornets before you!" Yes, the Lord will look after the road. What,
then, am I called to do? Let me find the answer in the 14th verse.

"_Fear the Lord!_" The Lord must be the sovereign thought in my life. All
true and well-proportioned living must begin in well-proportioned thought.
God must be my biggest thought, and from that thought all others must take
their colour and their range.

"_Put away the gods._" My supreme homage must not be shared among many, it
must be given to One. When the Lord is enthroned as King all usurpers must
be banished. When He comes to His own the others go into exile.

"_Serve ye the Lord._" My strength must be enlisted with my loyalty. I
must not merely shout; I must work. I must not merely clap my hands when
the King goes by, I must consecrate those hands in sacrificial service.



AUGUST The Twenty-eighth

_WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING_

"_The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom._"
--JOB xxviii. 12-28.


Mere learning will not make me wise. The path to wisdom is not necessarily
through the schools. The brilliant scholar may be an arrant fool. True
wisdom is found, not in mental acquisitions, but in a certain spiritual
relation. The wise man is known by the pose of his soul. He is "_inclined
toward the Lord_!" He has returned unto his rest, and he finds light and
vision in the fellowship of his Lord.

"_To depart from evil is understanding._" Yes, I need the lens of purity
if I am to see the secrets of things. A dirty lens is the explanation of
much ignorance and obscurity. I do not think I can ever see a flower if my
lens is defiled. Much less can I see "the things of others." And still
less again can I enjoy "the secret of the Lord." What we want is not so
much a theological training as a right spirit, not so much to go to school
as to "_depart from evil_." When I leave an evil habit worlds unseen begin
to show their glory. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see
God."



AUGUST The Twenty-ninth

_THE RICHES OF SPIRITUALITY_

PROVERBS iv. 1-13.


Let me review some of these riches which are conferred upon the man who
has made his soul the guest-room of spiritual religion.

"_Love her, and she shall keep thee._" Spirituality is to be my true
defence. All other ramparts are vulnerable. They are the happy
hunting-ground of the ravages of time; they fail in the crisis; they are
the sure victims of moth and rust. But spirituality keeps me from
childhood to age, and its shields are invincible, even in the hour of
death. "There shall no evil befall thee."

"_Exalt her, and she shall promote thee._" She will lead me in the paths
of progress. Every day she will lead me to new conquests, and in
constantly enriching character I shall move towards life's appointed goal.
Holiness is the only success worth having. Other successes are like lamps
whose trembling flames are blown out in the first gusty, stormy night.
"But the path of the just is as a shining light that shineth more and more
even unto perfect day."

"_She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace._" Yes, and her
adornments are always beautiful. No beauty ever steals into the human face
comparable with the delicate presence of spirituality. It makes plain
features lovely, and transfigures them with "the glory of the Lord."



AUGUST The Thirtieth

_HOW TO DELIGHT IN THE WORD_

PSALM cxix. 97-104.


A man may measure his growth in grace by his growing delight in the speech
of the Lord. When His words are unwelcome in my ears, when they are an
intrusion which mars my pleasures, it is clear I am still in the far
country of revolt. But if His words make "music in my ears," if the Lord's
conversation is the very marrow of the feast, then I have entered into the
circle of His intimate friends. When His words taste sweet, even with a
bare board, I am "in heavenly places with Christ."

And how can I attain unto this spiritual delight? Well, first of all I
must make "_His testimonies my meditations._" Our doctors tell us that the
only way to taste the real savour of food is to masticate it well. Bolted
food never unlocks its essences. And meditation is just mental
mastication. To "turn the word over" in my mind will help to disburden its
treasure.

And then I must diligently put the word into practice. "_I have not
departed from Thy judgments._" There is nothing like obedience for setting
free a spiritual essence. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear
Him."



AUGUST The Thirty-first

_THE REAL GAINS AND LOSSES_

"_Godliness with contentment is great gain._"
--1 TIMOTHY vi. 6-16.


And so I must go into my heart if I would make a true estimate of my gains
and losses. The calculation is not to be made in my bank-books, or as I
stride over my broad acres, or inspect my well-filled barns. These are the
mere outsides of things, and do not enter into the real balance-sheet of
my life. We can no more estimate the success of a life by methods like
these than we can adjudge an oil-painting by the sense of smell.

What is my stock of godliness? That is one of the test questions. What are
my treasures of contentment? What about peace and joy, and hallowed and
blessed carelessness? How much pure laughter rings in my life? How much
bird-music is heard in the chambers of my heart? Is the note of praise to
be found in the streets of my soul? Am I rich in these things or
pathetically poor? "By these things men live," and therefore of these
things will I make my balance-sheet and reckon up my gains.



SEPTEMBER The First

_THE VIRTUE OF PROPORTION_

MATTHEW vi. 25-34.


I must put first things first. The radical fault in much of my living is
want of proportion. I think more of pretty window curtains than of fresh
air, more of "nice" wallpaper than of the moving pageant of the skies. I
magnify the immediate desire and minimize the ultimate goal. And so
"things do not come right!" How can they when the apportionment is so
perverse, when everything is topsy-turvy? If I want things to be firm and
durable I must revere the Divine order, and must put first things first.
"_Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness._"

And, therefore, I must seek holiness before success. I am to esteem
holiness with apparent failure as infinitely better than success with
stain and shame.

I must seek character before reputation. The applause of the world must be
as nothing compared with the approbation of God. The favouring "voice from
heaven" must be sweeter to my ears than the noisy cheers of the crowd.

And I must seek righteousness before quietness. The way of disturbance is
sometimes the way to peace. I must not be so concerned for a quiet life as
for a life that is "right with God."



SEPTEMBER The Second

_PRAYER AND REVOLUTION_

JOHN iv. 43-54.


This miracle began in a prayer. The nobleman went unto Jesus "_and
besought Him_." In such apparently fragile things can mighty revolutions
be born! "Prayer," said Tennyson, "opens the sluice-gates between us and
the Infinite." It brings the frail wire into contact with the battery. It
links together man and God.

Prayer was corroborated by belief. "_The man believed the word that Jesus
spake unto him._" By our faith we cut the channels along which the healing
energy will flow. Faith "prepares the way of the Lord." Our faith is
purposed to be a fellow-laborer with grace, and, if faith be absent, grace
"can do no mighty works."

The healing begins with the faith. "_It was at the same hour in which ...
he himself believed._" These "coincidences" are inevitable happenings in
the realm of the Spirit. When we offer the believing prayer, God's mighty
energies begin to besiege the life for which the prayer is made. Mr.
Cornaby, the Methodist missionary, declares how conscious he is in
far-away China when someone is interceding for him in the home-land! The
power possesses him in vitalizing flood! Hudson Taylor's mother shuts
herself in a little room to pray, and eighty miles away her son is
converted.



SEPTEMBER The Third

_MY SHARE IN THE MIRACLE_

JOHN ii. 1-11.


Our Lord always demands our best. He will not work with our second-best.
His gracious "extra" is given when our own resources are exhausted. We
must do our best before our Master will do His miracle. We must "fill the
water-pots with water"! We must bring "the five loaves and two fishes"! We
must "let down the net"! We must be willing "to be made whole," and we
must make the effort to rise! Yes, the Lord will have my best.

Our Lord transforms our best into His better. He changes water into wine.
He turns the handful of seed into a harvest. Our aspirations become
inspirations. Our willings become magnetic with the mystic power of grace.
Our bread becomes sacramental, and He Himself is revealed to us at the
feast. Our ordinary converse becomes a Divine fellowship, and "our hearts
burn within us" as He talks to us by the way.

And our Lord ever keeps His best wine until the last. "Greater things than
these shall ye do!" "I will see you again," and there shall be grander
transformations still! "The best is yet to be." "Dreams cannot picture a
world so fair." "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered
into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for
them that love Him."



SEPTEMBER The Fourth

_A PORTRAIT OF A GREAT SUPPLIANT_

MATTHEW viii. 5-13.


Here we have _the grace of sympathy_; one man troubled about the sickness
of another. We are drawing very near to the Lord when our soul vibrates
responsively to another man's need. We can measure our likeness to the
Lord by the range of our sensitiveness to the world's sorrow and pain. Our
God is the "Father of _pities_"; He is sensitive in every direction, no
side is numb, and we are putting on His likeness in proportion as we
attain an all-round responsiveness to the cries of human need.

And here we have _the grace of humility_. "I am not worthy!" Our pride
always blocks "the way of the Lord." Our humility makes us porous to the
Divine. The "poor in spirit" are already in the kingdom, and the gracious
powers of the kingdom are commanded to attend their bidding.

And here we have _the grace of faith_. "Only say the word!" The centurion
conceives the Lord's words as soldiers attending on the Lord's will. Let
one be spoken, and at once the mission is executed. And so it is. "The
words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." His words
are vehicles of power, and when they are spoken, miracles are always
wrought. "The entrance of Thy word giveth light."



SEPTEMBER The Fifth

_FAITH AND RIDICULE_

MATTHEW ix. 18-26.


And, so one man's faith is more than a match for many people's scorn. The
steady trust of the ruler was not shaken by the rude flippancy of the
artificial mourners, and his daughter was brought from the dead. "This is
the victory that overcometh, even our faith." Everything bows, like
fragile reeds, before the march of a victorious faith. Scorn, and hatred,
and all manner of devilry, and death itself, all lose their power in the
presence of a belief which remains steady and steadfast. "Said I not unto
thee that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?"

And what an infinite reservoir of power is waiting to be tapped by the
hand of faith! A ruler believes and his daughter is vitalized. A poor
woman, bent and broken, reaches out her thin, frail hand, and lo! she is
erect and graceful as the pine! And "my sufficiency is of God!" All that I
may need is in the same wonderful reservoir of grace. That healing flood
is like the ocean fulness, and it will fill every bay, and cove, and creek
in the wide-stretching shore of human need.

    "The healing of His seamless dress
      Is by our beds of pain,
     We touch Him in life's throng and press,
      And we are whole again."



SEPTEMBER The Sixth

_CONTEMPTUOUS WORDS_

MATTHEW xv. 21-28.


I wonder if this word "dogs" was my Saviour's word, or had He picked it up
from the disciples that He might cast it away again for ever? Did He use
it that He might reveal its ugliness, and so banish it from human speech?
As Jesus and His disciples came along the road the Master walked before
them. "And behold, a Canaanitish woman came out from those borders!" And
the disciples whispered to one another, "Here comes one of the dogs!" And
the Master overheard it, and His tender spirit grieved. And there and then
He resolved to help the woman and at the same time cleanse the men.

Is there not therefore something half-ironical in our Saviour's use of the
word? When He spake of the woman as a "dog," and of the disciples as "the
children," would there not be something significant in His very looks and
tones? These cold, unfeeling men "the children," and this tender yearning
woman the "dog"!

When the Lord used the disciples' word they began to be ashamed, and in
the fire of their shame their self-conceit was consumed. He turned with
impatient longing to the woman, "O, woman, great is thy faith; be it unto
thee even as thou wilt."



SEPTEMBER The Seventh

_EXPERIMENT AND EXPERIENCE_

HEBREWS xi. 1-6.


I like the marginal rendering of the introductory sentence of this great
chapter. "_Faith is the giving substance to things hoped for._" Faith
converts cloudy castles into substantial homes. Faith substantiates the
unseen. Faith sucks the energy out of splendid ideals, and incorporates it
in present and immediate life. Faith unfolds the eternal in the moment,
the infinite in the trifle, the divine in the commonplace. Faith
incorporates God and man. Yes, faith gives substance to "things hoped
for," it brings them out of the air, and gives them reality and movement
in the hard and common ways of earth and time.

And faith is also "_the test of things not seen_." By a test faith gains a
conquest. By an experiment faith acquires an experience. By a great
speculation faith makes a great discovery. "Try me now herewith, and prove
Me!" It is an invitation to humble and sincere assumption. Try if it
works! Make a hallowed experiment with the powers of grace.

Lord, incline me to make the gracious test! Let me stake my all upon the
venture! Let me dare all in order that I may gain all! Let me sow
bountifully, and so reap a bountiful harvest.



SEPTEMBER The Eighth

_THE BRACING AIR OF PUBLICITY_

ROMANS x. 1-13.


There is a belief which never registers itself in confession. It never
exercises itself in the strong, bracing air of publicity. It is a
cloistered belief, and suffers from want of ventilation. Such Christians
are always anæmic; indeed, they are always puny, and never get beyond the
stage of spiritual babyhood. "Ye are yet babes!" Belief which is never
oxygenated by open confession can never nourish the soul into vigorous and
exhilarant health.

But there is a belief which expresses and confirms itself in confession.
"_With the mouth confession is made unto salvation._" Such confession is a
means of moral and spiritual health. And confession in the early days
meant risk, venture which exposed the life to the shedding of blood. It
meant a frank defiance of the world, and an eager challenge of the devil.
And it is on such fields of open encounter for the Lord that muscle is
made, and the soul goes "from strength to strength," and "from glory to
glory."

My soul, art thou secretly ashamed of thy Lord? Art thou afraid to "lift
high His royal banner"? Then thou wilt always be as a feather-bed soldier,
and the trophies of the honourable war are not for thee. Stand out in the
open, and boldly testify, "As for me and my house, we will serve the
Lord!"



SEPTEMBER The Ninth

_DEALING WITH SIN_

PSALM xxxii.


Here is the burden of unconfessed sin. "_When I kept silence my bones
waxed old._" There is nothing brings on premature age like secret sin. It
keeps the mind in perpetual unrest, and a troubled mind soon makes the
body old. The real nourisher of the body is a quiet and radiant soul. But
let the soul be in chaos, and the body will soon be a ruin.

And here, too, is the healthy act of confession. "_I acknowledged my sin
unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid._" He retained no single germ
of the whole unclean brood. He brought them out into the light one by one,
as though he were emptying a noisome kennel. He brought them out, and
named them, in the awful Presence of the Lord.

And here is the ministry of forgiveness, and therefore the miracle of
restored health. Let me mark the rich variety of the descriptive words.
"_Forgiven!_" "_Covered!_" "_Imputed not!_" It is all removed and
obliterated, and the place of defilement and profanity becomes the holy
temple of the Lord.



SEPTEMBER The Tenth

_CRITICISM AND PIETY_

"_Thinkest thou, that judgest them that do such things,
that thou shalt escape?_"
--ROMANS ii. 1-11.


That is always my peril, to assume that by being severe with others I
exculpate myself. I go on to the bench, and deliver sentence upon my
brother, when my proper place is in the dock. And this is the subtlety of
the snare, that I regard my criticisms and condemnations of other people
as signs of my own innocence. This is the last refinement in temptation,
and multitudes fall before its power.

The way to moral and spiritual health is to direct my criticisms upon
myself. I must stand in the dock, and hear the grave indictment of my own
soul. Unless I pass through the second chapter of Romans I can never enter
the fifth and sixth, and still less the glorious forgiveness of the
eighth. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ
Jesus." I pass into that warm, cheery light through the cold road of
acknowledged guilt and sin.

"If we confess our sins He is just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse
us from all unrighteousness."



SEPTEMBER The Eleventh

_A FATAL DIVORCE_

"_They feared the Lord, and served their own gods._"
--2 KINGS xvii. 24-34.


And that is an old-world record, but it is quite a modern experience. The
kinsmen of these ancient people are found in our own time. Men still fear
one God and serve another.

But something is vitally wrong when men can divorce their fear from their
obedience. And the beginning of the wrong is in the fear itself. "Fear,"
as used in this passage, is a counterfeit coin, which does not ring true
to the truth. It means only the payment of outward respect, a formal
recognition, a passing nod which we give on the way to something better.
It is a mere skin courtesy behind which there is no beating heart; a
hollow convention in which there is no deep and sacred awe.

But the real "fear of God" is a spiritual mood in which virtue thrives, an
atmosphere in which holy living is quite inevitable. "The fear of the Lord
is _clean_." It is not lip-worship, but heart-homage, a reverence in which
the soul is always found upon its knees. And so "the fear of the Lord is
to hate evil"; it is an indignant repulsion from all that is hateful to
God. It is the sharing of the Spirit of the Lord. There cannot be any true
fear where the soul does not worship "in spirit and in truth."



SEPTEMBER The Twelfth

_THE GARMENTS OF THE SOUL_

JOEL ii. 12-19.


I am so apt to think that the rending of an outer garment is a token of
true penitence and amendment of life. But it is the inner garments I must
deal with, the raiments and habits of the soul. Some of these robes--such
as vanity and pride--are as gay and showy as a peacock; others are dirty
and leprous, and we should not dare to bring them to the door, and display
them in the light. But all need severe treatment; they must be torn, fibre
from fibre, and reduced to rags.

But "rending" must be accompanied by "turning." "_Turn unto the Lord your
God._" For the Lord our God is gracious, and His love will not only
provide a new wardrobe, but a swift furnace in which to burn the remnants
of the old. Yes, His "great kindness" will burn away the filth of my
alienation, and will "bring forth the best robe" and put it on me. The
good Lord will give me new habits. He will "cover me with the robe of
righteousness, and the garment of salvation."



SEPTEMBER The Thirteenth

_THE CLEAN HEART_

PSALM li.


What will the Lord do with my sin, if in true humility I come into His
Presence? Let me hear the music of the evangel.

He will "_blot out my transgression_." He will so erase it that even His
own holy eyes can see no stain or shame. He will blot it out, as I have
seen a gloomy cloudlet blotted out, and there has been nothing left but
radiant sky.

And He will "_wash me throughly from mine iniquity_." Yes, and that not
like the washing of the hands, but like the washing of clothes, not like
the washing of a surface, but the removal of uncleanness from a fabric,
the ousting of every germ lurking in the innermost cells of the stuff.
When the Lord washes a soul it is "throughly" done, and every strand is
white in holiness.

So will He give me "_a clean heart_"; so will He "_renew a right spirit
within me_." The very atmosphere of my life shall be as the air after
deluges of cleansing rain. It shall be sweet, and clean, and clear! I
shall walk in a new inspiration, and I shall "behold the land that is very
far off."



SEPTEMBER The Fourteenth

_THE SENSE OF WANT_

"_This man went down to his house justified rather than the other._"
--LUKE xviii. 9-14.


The Master sets the Pharisee and publican in contrast, and His judgment
goes against the man who has made some progress in moral attainments, and
favours the man who has no victories to show, but only a hunger for
victory. The dissatisfied sinner is preferred to the self-satisfied saint.
The Pharisee had gained an inch, but had lost his sense of the continent.
The publican had not pegged out an inch of moral claim, but he had an
overwhelming sense of the untrodden universe.

So this, I think, is the teaching for me. We are justified by the penitent
sense of want and not by the boastful sense of possession. Our sense of
lack is the measure of our hope, and our measure of hope determines the
poverty or fulness of our communion with the Lord. The Pharisee had no
"beyond," no realm of admiration, no hope! Aspiration was dead, and
therefore inspiration had ceased. Our possibilities nestle in our
cravings.



SEPTEMBER The Fifteenth

_RESTORING A RUINED LIFE_

PSALM ciii. 1-18.


Could there be a sweeter chime than the opening music of this psalm?

"_Who forgiveth all thine iniquities._" He receives me back home again,
interrupts the broken story of my sin, and drowns my sobbings in His
rejoicings.

"_Who healeth all thy diseases._" He takes in hand the foul complaints
which I acquired in "the far country," and with His powerful medicines,
and His wonderful "bread of life," He drives the foul things from my soul.

"_Who redeemeth thy life from destruction._" Yes, with His own blood He
buys me back from a midnight servitude, strikes every chain and shackle
from my limbs, and makes me dance in "the glorious liberty of the children
of God."

"_Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercy._" He encircles
me with the invulnerable army of His own love. Henceforth if the devil
would get at me he must deal with God. "As the mountains are round about
Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people."

"_Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things._" He sets before me a
glorious table, and enlivens my spirits with glorious fellowship. That so
I can be no other than "satisfied," and my heart is at rest in the Lord.
"Thou, O Christ, art all I want!"



SEPTEMBER The Sixteenth

_THE STEADFASTNESS OF THE LORD_

"_My covenant shall stand fast._"
--PSALM lxxxix. 19-29.


Such a divine assurance ought to make me perfectly quiet in spirit.
Restlessness in a Christian always spells disloyalty. The uncertainty is
born of suspicion. There is a rift in the faith, and the disturbing breath
of the devil blows through, and destroys my peace. If I am sure of my
great Ally, my heart will not be troubled, neither will it be afraid.

And such a divine assurance ought to make me bold in will and majestic in
labour. I ought to be inventive in chivalrous enterprise, and I ought to
covet the hardest parts of the field. If the mighty Ally will never fail,
I should never be afraid of the marshalled hosts of wickedness. "One with
God is in a majority." "He always wins who sides with God." "The Lord is
on my side, whom shall I fear?"

And such a divine assurance ought to give me a kingly demeanour. The
members of the Court acquire a certain stateliness by their lofty
fellowship. And, surely, one who walks with God should be characterized by
something of the Divine glory, and men should know that his acquaintances
are found in the courts of heaven.



SEPTEMBER The Seventeenth

_THE NEVER-WITHERING LEAF_

JEREMIAH xvii. 5-11.


Let me look at "the blessed man" in the interpreting symbol of this
healthy and graceful tree.

The blessed life is a life of vast resource. "_As a tree planted by the
waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river._" It is not watered
by an occasional shower, it is unceasingly bathed by the vitalizing flood.
Its rootlets are always drinking the nutritious waters of grace. The
blessed life is planted on the banks of that wonderful river which takes
its rise in the great white throne.

And just because of these boundless supplies, the blessed life is
undisturbed in times of grave crisis and emergency. "_He shall not see
when heat cometh._" He shall be cool when the unblessed are hot and
fever-stricken. He shall "keep his head" in times of general panic. His
powers of endurance shall make the world wonder! He shall "hold out" when
everybody else is faint.

So shall there be nothing "sere and yellow" about him. "_His leaf shall be
green._" His faith, and hope, and love shall remain fresh and beautiful
even in "the dark and cloudy day."



SEPTEMBER The Eighteenth

_THE ALL-ROUND DEFENCE_

"_Thou hast beset me behind._"
--PSALM cxxxix. 1-12.


And that is a defence against the enemies which would attack me in the
rear. There is yesterday's sin, and the guilt which is the companion of
yesterday's sin. They pursue my soul like fierce hounds, but my gracious
Lord will come between my pursuers and me. His mighty grace intervenes,
and my security is complete.

"Thou hast beset me ... _before_." And that is a defence against the
enemies which would impede my advance and frighten me out of the heavenly
way. There is fear--fear of the morrow, fear of consequences, fear of
death! And my Lord will come between me and them, and their menace shall
be destroyed. The fiery darts shall be quenched before they reach my soul.

"_And laid Thine hand upon me._" And that is a defence against the enemies
which may lie in ambush in present and immediate circumstances: the sudden
temptation to passion, or the temptation to panic, or the temptation which
would snare me to criminal ease. But my Lord's hand is all-sufficient! And
so on every side my defence standeth; "the angel of the Lord encampeth
round about them that fear Him."



SEPTEMBER The Nineteenth

_THE NEEDS OF THE BODY_

JOHN vi. 1-21.


The Lord who came to save His people was sensitive to His people's hunger.
In the presence of the supreme need the smaller need was not forgotten. He
honoured the body as well as the soul. He ministered to the transient as
well as the eternal. And that is ever the characteristic of true
kingliness; it has a kingly way of doing the smaller things. I can measure
my own progress toward the throne by my sovereign attention to scruples.
"He that is faithful in that which is least, the same also is great."

The Lord is not oppressed by the multitude of His guests. "He Himself knew
what He would do." We need not jostle one another for His bounty. We shall
not crowd one another out. "There is bread enough and to spare." Even in
the material realm this is true, and everybody would have his daily bread
if the will of the Lord were done. There is no straitness in the gracious
Host! It is the greed of the guests which mars the satisfaction of the
feast.

And how careful the Lord of Glory was to "gather up the fragments"! Our
infinitely wealthy Lord is not wealthy enough to "throw things away." He
cannot afford to waste bread. Can He afford to lose a soul? "He goeth out
after that which is lost until He find it"!



SEPTEMBER The Twentieth

_THE PATHETIC MULTITUDE_

MARK viii. 1-9.


My Lord has "_compassion upon the multitude_." And (shall I reverently say
it?) His compassion was part of His passion. His pity was always costly.
It culminated upon Calvary, but it was bleeding all along the road! It was
a fellow-feeling with all the pangs and sorrows of the race. And a pity
that bleeds is a pity that heals. "In His love and in His pity He redeemed
us."

And the multitude is round about us still, and the people are in peril of
fainting by the way. There is the multitude of misfortune, the children of
disadvantage, who never seem to have come to their own. And there is the
multitude of outcasts, the vast army of publicans and sinners. And there
are the bewildering multitudes of Africa, and India, and China, and they
have "nothing to eat"!

How do I regard them? Do I share the compassion of the Lord? Do I exercise
a sensitive and sanctified imagination, and enter somewhat into the pangs
of their cravings? My Lord calls for my help. "How many loaves have ye?"
"Bring out all you have! Consecrate your entire resources! Put your all
upon the altar of sacrifice!" And in reply to the call can I humbly and
trustfully say, "O, Lamb of God, I come!"



SEPTEMBER The Twenty-first

_LIFE AS BREAD_

MARK viii. 10-21.


It is gracious to know that my Lord is "the Bread of Life," and that I can
feed on Him. It is fearful to know that I, too, am bread, and that others
are feeding on me. Am I the nutriment of vice or the sustenance of virtue?
Am I an evil leaven, like the Pharisees, or a holy leaven like the Lord?
When little children feed on my presence do they grow in strength and
beauty? Or do they become relaxed and demoralized? Who will feed upon me
to-day, and what will be the end of it?

If I would have my life to be as hallowed and hallowing leaven I must
regularly feed upon the Bread of Life. If I am sustained by the Lord, I
too shall be a sustainer of all who aspire after a true and holy life. My
very character will itself become heavenly bread, and men will be
nourished by it even when I am unconscious of the ministry. When they have
spent a brief hour in my company they will go away refreshed.

"Lord, evermore give us this bread!" So feed us with Thyself that we may
share Thy nature. Let "virtue" go forth from us, and let it be as holy
bread to all who are heavy-laden, and ready to faint.



SEPTEMBER The Twenty-second

_THE HANDFUL OF MEAL_

1 KINGS xvii. 8-16.


What marvellous "coincidences" are prepared by Providential grace! The
poor widow is unconsciously ordained to entertain the prophet! The ravens
will be guided to the brook Cherith! "I have commanded them to feed thee
there." Our road is full of surprises. We see the frowning, precipitous
hill, and we fear it, but when we arrive at its base we find a refreshing
spring! The Lord of the way had gone before the pilgrim. "I go to
prepare ... for you."

But how strange that a widow with only "a handful of meal" should be
"commanded" to offer hospitality! It is once again "the impossible" which
is set before us. It would have been a dull commonplace to have fed the
prophet from the overflowing larder of the rich man's palace. But to work
from an almost empty cupboard! That is the surprising way of the Lord. He
delights to hang great weights on apparently slender wires, to have great
events turn on seeming trifles, and to make poverty the minister of "the
indescribable riches of Christ."

The poor widow sacrificed her "handful of meal," and received an unfailing
supply. And this, too, is the way of the Lord.

    "Whatever, Lord, we lend to Thee,
     Repaid a thousand fold will be."



SEPTEMBER The Twenty-third

_THE DEDICATION OF SUBSTANCE_

2 KINGS iv. 38-44.


Here is a man recognizing the sacredness of his substance. He saw the seal
of the Lord upon his harvest, and he offered the first-fruits in token of
its rightful Owner. Men go wrong when the only name upon their field is
their own. "_My_ power, and the strength of _my_ hand hath gotten me this
wealth." It matters nothing what the wealth may be--material substance,
mental skill, or business sagacity. It becomes unhallowed power when we
attach our own label to it, and erase the name of God.

This man dedicated his substance, and the hunger of his fellows was
appeased. That is a great principle in human life. One man's satisfaction
is dependent on another man's fidelity. His want is to be filled with my
fulness. If I am selfish he remains hungry. If I acknowledge "the rights
of God," and therefore "the rights of man," he has "enough and to spare."
If I hoard my treasure I rob both God and man.

My gracious Lord, remove the scales from my eyes. Help me to be sensitive
to the obligations of all wealth. Let my plenty call me to the children of
need. Let me acknowledge my stewardship, and be Thy fellow minister in the
service of man.



SEPTEMBER The Twenty-fourth

_AFTER THE TRIUMPH!_

MATTHEW xiv. 23-33.


After the great miracle of feeding the multitude our Lord "_went up into a
mountain to pray_." May we reverently wonder if it was a season of
temptation? Did they want to make Him a King? Was our human Lord assailed
by "the destruction that wasteth at noonday"? And did He shut Himself up
with the Father?

I am so disposed to pray _up_ to my successes, and to cease to pray _in_
them! I remember God in my struggles, I forget Him in my attainments. I
hold fellowship with Him on the road, I part company with Him when I
arrive. I become a practical atheist in the midst of my successes. My only
security is to go up into a mountain apart and pray. Unless I become
closeted with God, and see all things in their true colours and
proportion, I shall be lifted up in most unholy and destructive pride.

And let me notice that our Lord returned from His privacy with the Father
to do even greater miracles still. He had appeased the pangs of hunger;
now He appeases the passion of the sea. And so in my degree shall it be
with me. If in all my triumphs I remain the humble companion of the Lord,
my triumphs shall be repeated and enriched. "Greater works than these
shall ye do."



SEPTEMBER The Twenty-fifth

_THE SENSE OF GRACE_

PSALM cvii. 21-32.


A vital part of all devotion is the remembrance of the goodness of God.
Such a remembrance keeps my soul in the realm of grace. I am so inclined
to proclaim my personal rights rather than glorify the favour of God, so
inclined to exhibit my own prowess rather than God's most gracious bounty.
And whenever I lose the sense of grace I become a usurper and take the
throne. Our salvation is "not of works, lest any man should boast."

And such a remembrance would keep my soul in the mood of humility.
"Nothing in my hands I bring." I can no more claim the glory of salvation
than a child, who has cut a shallow trench on the sands, can claim the
glory of initiating the roll of the ocean-tide. I owe all my desires and
all my hopes and all my present attainments to the boundless goodness of
God.

And such a remembrance would keep my soul in the dispensation of love. I
cannot quietly and steadily contemplate the goodness of the Lord without
my soul being kindled into loving response. Without high contemplations
love smoulders, and will eventually die out. But God's goodness inflames
the soul, and communicates its own most gracious heat. "We love because He
first loved us!"



SEPTEMBER The Twenty-sixth

_MY LORD AS MY BREAD_

JOHN vi. 26-35.


Our life's bread is a Person. We may have much to do with Christianity and
nothing to do with Christ. The other day I was in a great and wonderful
bakery, but I never ate nor touched a morsel of bread. I touched the
machinery. I was absorbingly interested in the processes, but I ate no
bread! And I may be deeply interested in the means of grace, I may be
familiar with all "the ins and outs" of ecclesiastical machinery, and I
may never handle nor taste "the bread of God." Our religion is dead and
burdensome until it becomes a personal relation, and we have vital
communion with Christ.

"Thou, O Christ, art all I want." We find everything in Him. Everything
else is preliminary, preparatory, subordinate, and to be in the long run
dropped and forgotten. A ritual is only a way to "the bread," and by no
means essential, and very often undesirable. The heart can find the Lord
with a look, with a cry, and needs no obtrusion of ritual or priest. But
how pathetic! To be contented to potter about among the ritual and never
to find the Bread! To be in the house and never to see the Host! "Ye
search the Scriptures ... and ye will not come to Me."



SEPTEMBER The Twenty-seventh

_TAKE AND EAT_

JOHN vi. 52-63.


There is, first of all, _appropriation_. I must "stretch out" "lame hands
of faith"; and "take" before I "eat." In the lives of many Christians
there is too much asking and too little taking. If it were only rightly
regarded, prayer is companionship as well as petition, and companionship
is literally significant of the sharing of bread. In every season of
communion a part must be assigned to the taking of the things for which we
have prayed. "_Receive ye_ the Holy Ghost."

And there is _assimilation_. We must "eat" as well as "take." It is in the
exercises of obedience that we digest and incorporate the bread of life.
Without our obedience the living Lord never becomes "part of ourselves."
We never "become one in the bundle of life" with the Lord our God. And
truth which is not assimilated becomes a drug. Instead of being a "savour
of life unto life," it becomes a "savour of death unto death."

And there is _vitalization_. The assimilated bread of life makes
everything alive. Every faculty in my being feels the touch of divine
inspiration. It is native bread for native power, and everything is
renewed.



SEPTEMBER The Twenty-eighth

_THE DAILY MANNA_

"_I will rain bread from heaven for you._"
--EXODUS xvi. 11-18.


And this gracious provision is made for people who are complaining, and
who are sighing for the flesh-pots of Egypt! Our Lord can be patient with
the impatient: He can be "kind to the unthankful." If it were easy to
drive the Lord away I should have succeeded long ago. I have murmured, I
have sulked, I have turned Him out of my thoughts, and "He stands at the
door and knocks!" I yearn for "the flesh-pots," "He sends me manna," "Was
there ever kindest shepherd half so gentle, half so sweet?"

"_And they gathered it every morning._" And that I think is the best time
to gather the heavenly food. At night I am weary, my body is craving
sleep, and I am not vitalized in the fields of grace. But in the morning I
am refreshed, and I can go to the heavenly fields and gather "the things
which God hath prepared for them that love Him." I can be fed as the day
begins, and I can set out to my daily work with the taste of God in my
mouth, and His mighty grace in my heart, and I shall delight to "walk in
the paths of His commandments."



SEPTEMBER The Twenty-ninth

_THE FOUNTAIN_

1 JOHN v. 9-21.


My Lord is "the fountain of life." "This life is in His Son." The springs
are nowhere else--not in elaborate theologies, or in ethical ideals, or in
literary masterpieces, or in music or art. "In Him was life." It is so
easy to forget the medicinal spring amid the distractions of the
fashionable spa. There are some healing waters at Scarborough, but they
have been almost "crowded out" by bands and entertainments. It is possible
that the secondary ministries of the Church may crowd out the Church's
Lord. I do not object to the entertainment if only it opens out on to the
Spring!

To have the Son is to have life. Nothing else is needed. "Thou, O Christ,
art all I want." Ritualisms, and ecclesiasticisms, and formal theologies
are not requisite. We can be saved without an academic knowledge of "the
plan of salvation." Many a gamekeeper's little child knows all the roads
on the estate, although she would be quite "at sea" in explaining "the
plan of the estate" which hangs in the house of the steward. "This is life
eternal, to know Thee and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."



SEPTEMBER The Thirtieth

_WHITE ROBES IN THE STREETS_

JOHN xvii. 11-28.


The man who has been fed with the "bread of life" must remain "in the
world." The Lord gives no countenance to the life of the ascetic. Our
sanctification is not to be gained by withdrawal and retreat. At the best,
that would be a holiness sickly and anæmic, a coddled virtue devoid of
firm muscle and iron nerve. Our Lord purposes a holiness which shall wear
white robes in the streets, and shine like virgin snow in the market, and
keep itself chivalrous and stately in the common fellowships of men.

"In the world," but "_not of the world_." The man who is fed on "the bread
of life" is endowed with powers of resistance against "the noisome
pestilence." The germs of worldly epidemics find no nutriment in him. "The
prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." When an evil microbe
finds no foothold it withers away. If I am not "of the world" I shall
quite naturally and instinctively be able to resist "all the wiles of the
devil."

And my Lord purposes me to have this positive, masculine holiness in order
"_that the world may believe_." He wants disciples who will arrest the
world by their glorious health, and by their invincible moral defences. He
wants my purity to advertise His grace; He wants my faith to increase "the
household of the faith."



OCTOBER The First

_A WONDERFUL UNBELIEF_

PSALM lxxviii. 15-25.


"They believed not in God ... though He had----" Let everyone finish that
sentence out of his own experience. How much grace can our unbelief
withstand? The Lord had made the rock like unto a spring of water, and yet
these people believed not! What has He done for thee and me? Let us
retrace the pilgrimage of our own years. Let us recall the blessings by
the way--the streams in the desert, the pillar of fire that led us in the
night. And yet what is the quality of our faith? It is often weak and
reluctant, riddled with timidities, or moth-eaten with worldly ease. It is
not mighty and daring, riding forth every morning like a chivalrous knight
to inevitable conquest. It creeps along, like Mr. Halting, and Miss
Much-Afraid, and Mr. Little-Faith.

"He marvelled at their unbelief." The Lord Jesus wondered that men and
women, seeing what they had seen, did not immediately spring to the life
and service of faith. Perhaps we do not give time for faith to be born!
Perhaps we do not see because we do not look. Perhaps we are blind to His
mercies and are therefore dead to the faith. And therefore, perhaps, our
first prayer should be, "Lord, that I might receive my sight," and then
the prayer, "Lord, increase my faith."



OCTOBER The Second

_HUMBLING OUR PRIDE_

JOB xxxviii. 1-15.


"I will demand of thee, and answer thou Me." When our God begins to ask
questions our pride is soon humbled, for the limits of our knowledge and
power are speedily reached. The mist is very close to our doors, and in a
very few steps we are lost on a trackless moor. Who can trace the real
springs of a tear and lay his hand on the emotion that gave it birth? Who
can lead us into the bright realm where smiles are born? Who knoweth the
way of a frown, or who can uncover the secrets of fear? No living man can
explain his own breathing, or can unravel the mysterious decree which
moves his own finger!

And as there is so much mystery, it must be surely true that mystery is a
very gracious thing. Uncertainty is the divine ministry of blessedness. If
it were not so, He would have told us! "I have many things to say unto
you, but ye cannot bear them now." If it were best for us that the mist
should be removed, He would roll it up like a garment and give us the
light of unclouded day. But the mist remains, the home of blessing. "He
cometh in a thick cloud." "The clouds drop fatness."



OCTOBER The Third

_WATCHING THE CREATOR_

JEREMIAH x. 10-16.


"He hath made the earth by His power." And He is making it still. Even in
the material world "His mercies are new every morning." James Smetham used
to speak of going into his garden "to see what the Lord is doing." He
would stand on the top of Highgate Hill on a blustering night "to watch
the goings of the Lord in the storm." And all this means that to James
Smetham creation was not merely a single event, but a _process_ whose
countless events are still going on. He watched his Lord at work! Every
sunset was a new creation from the Almighty Maker's hands.

To many of us the Creator is remote from His works. He is not immediately
near. And so He no longer "walks in the garden in the cool of the day."
The garden is no longer a holy place. Let us recover the sacredness of
things. Let us "practise the presence of God." Let us link His love and
power to every flower that blows. And so shall we be able to say, as we
move amid the glories of the natural world, "The Lord is in His holy
temple."



OCTOBER The Fourth

_CREATOR AND CREATURE_

ISAIAH xl. 9-28.


Let me mark the range of this teaching. "Who hath measured the waters in
the hollow of His hand.... He shall feed His flock like a shepherd." And
let me mark it again. "The Creator of the ends of the earth ... giveth
power unto the faint." Almightiness offers itself to carry my burden! The
Creator offers Himself to re-create me! I can engage the forces of the
universe to help me on my journey. Emerson counselled us to hitch our
wagon to a star. We can do better than that. We can hitch it to the Maker
of the star! We have something better than an ideal; we have the Light of
the world. We are not left to a radiant abstraction; we have a gracious
God.

The water flows from the Welsh hills to every house in Birmingham. Rich
and poor alike share the bounty of the mountains. The wealth of the
mountains comes to the common thirst. And everybody, too, may have the
water from the everlasting hills. "The water that I shall give him shall
be in him." The river of life will flow to every soul of man.



OCTOBER The Fifth

_THE SOUL AND NATURE_

PSALM cxlviii.


"Praise ye the Lord." And the Psalmist calls upon the creation to join in
the anthem. And that is the gracious purpose of our God, that the world
should be filled with harmonious praise. It is His will that the character
of man should harmonize with the flowers of the field, that the beauty of
his habits should blend with the glories of the sunrise, and that his
speech and laughter should mingle with the songs of birds and with the
melody of flowing streams. But man is too often a discord in creation. The
flowers put him to shame. The birds make him sound harsh and jarring. He
is "out of tune."

What then? "Tune my heart to sing Thy praise." We must bring the broken
strings, the rusted strings, the jarring strings to the Repairer and Tuner
of the soul. It is the glad ministry of His grace to re-awaken silent
chords, to restore broken harps, to "put new songs" in our mouths. He will
make us the kinsfolk of all things bright and beautiful. We shall "go
forth with joy," and "all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."



OCTOBER The Sixth

_HE KNOWETH OUR FRAME_

PSALM ciii. 13-22.


"He knoweth our frame." The Bible abounds in such gracious and tender
words. "He remembereth us in our low estate." "I have many things to say
unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." "He will not permit you to be
tempted above that ye are able." The burden is suited to our strength. The
revelation is determined by our experience. The pace is regulated by our
years. "He carrieth the lambs in His arms." He "leads on softly." Nothing
is done in ignorance. "The Lord is mindful of His own. He remembereth His
children."

And so I must practise the belief in God's compassionate nearness. In my
childhood I used to sing "There's a Friend for little children, Above the
bright blue sky." I know better now. He is nearer to me than I can dream.
I used to sing "There is a happy land, Far, far away." Now I sing, "There
is a happy land, _Not_ far away." The good Father and His home are not in
some remote realm. They are very, very near to me, and He knows all about
me. "He knoweth our frame."



OCTOBER The Seventh

_NEEDING AND WANTING_

ACTS xvii. 22-31.


"As though He needed anything." "He may not need us; but does He want us?"
Such is the question I heard Dr. Parker ask as he preached upon these
words. And he took up a handful of flowers which he had upon the pulpit,
and said: "These flowers were gathered for me by little hands in a
Devonshire lane. Did I need them? No. Did I want them?... Your little girl
kissed you before you left for business this morning. Did you need it?...
Did you want it?"

And so Almightiness may not need our weakness, but the loving Father wants
His children. "We are His offspring." Our Father delights in the love of
His children. The Saviour said to a Samaritan woman, "Give Me to drink."
And perhaps it is within the scope of our holy privilege to refresh the
heart of our Lord. Perhaps we can give Him to drink of the well of our
affections, and He will see of "the travail of His soul and be
satisfied."



OCTOBER The Eighth

_GOD'S GLORIOUS PURPOSE_

"_I have created him for My glory, I have formed him;
yea, I have made him._"
--ISAIAH xliii. 1-7.


That is surely a superlative honour! "I have created him for My glory." I
stood before one of Turner's paintings, and a man of fine judgment said to
me, "That is Turner's glory!" He meant that in that picture the genius and
the power and the grace of Turner were most abundantly expressed. And it
is the will of God that man should express His glory, and by his
righteousness and goodness witness to the great Creator's power and love.
Amid all the wonders and sublimities of earth, and sky, and sea, man is to
be the Almighty's "glory."

The contrast is pathetic when we turn from the Creator's purpose to our
immediate life. There is so much that is shameful, crooked, and perverse.
There is little or nothing of "glory." But, blessed be God! the purpose
abides, and the Creator's work goes on. In His redemptive grace He has
made provision for marred work, for spoilt and perverted life. "The
crooked shall be made straight." "I will bring again that which is out of
the way." "Where sin abounds grace doth much more abound."



OCTOBER The Ninth

_THE LARGER WATERS_

1 THESSALONIANS iv. 13-18.


Death is not an end; it is only a new beginning. Death is not the master
of the house; he is only the porter at the King's lodge, appointed to open
the gate, and let in the King's guests into the realms of eternal day.
"And so shall we be ever with the Lord."

And so the range of three score years and ten is not the limit of our
life. Our life is not a land-locked lake enclosed within the shore-lines
of seventy years. It is an arm of the sea, and where the shore-lines seem
to meet in old age they open out into the infinite. And so we must build
for those larger waters. We must lay our life plans on the scale of the
infinite, not as though we were only pilgrims of time, but as children of
eternity! We are immortal! How, then, shall we live to-day in prospect of
the eternal morrow?



OCTOBER The Tenth

_OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH_

PSALM xlvi.


"God is our refuge and strength." And in the varied conflicts and perils
of life we need both these resources. We need the "refuge." There are
times when our mightiest warfare is to lie passive, to shelter quietly in
the strong defences of our God. Our finest strategy is sometimes to "rest
in the Lord and wait." We can slay some of our enemies by leaving them
alone. We can "starve them out." They can be weakened and beaten by sheer
neglect. We feed their strength, and give them favoured chances, if we go
out and face them actively, "marching as to war." The best way is to hide,
and keep quiet; and "God is our refuge."

But we also need the "strength." This is positive equipment for active
service. The defensive is changed to the offensive, and in the "strength"
of the Lord we advance against the foe. We "ride abroad, redressing human
wrongs." We "tread upon the lion and the adder, the young lion and the
dragon we trample under foot." We meet our enemy on the open field, and we
slay him in his pride!

And so our God is our resource in the double warfare of active and passive
crusade. In Him we can take refuge, and the enemy withers. In Him we can
find fighting strength, and the enemy is overthrown.



OCTOBER The Eleventh

_THE OLD COMPANION ON THE NEW ROAD_

"_Get thee out ... and I will show thee."
"So Abram departed ... and the Lord appeared._"
--GENESIS xii. 1-9.


We must bring these separated passages together if we would appreciate the
graciousness of the Lord's call. They are like the two sides of the same
shield. They answer each other as voice and echo. When I move in obedience
the Lord moves in inspiration. He never lets me go on my own charges. "All
things are now ready." Before He makes me hunger the bread is prepared.
Before I thirst the water is at hand. Before He calls me He has opened
springs in difficult places and arbours of rest along the road. When Abram
set out from his own country the Lord went before him.

And so I need not fear the arduous call. The very measure of its
difficulty is also the measure of the riches of the divine provisions. "As
thy day so shall thy strength be." At every turning of the winding way the
Lord will appear unto us. At every new demand we shall discover new
bounty, and everywhere in the unfamiliar road we shall gaze upon the
familiar and friendly face of the Lord.



OCTOBER The Twelfth

_ROUND-ABOUT WAYS_

ACTS vii. 1-7.


"Unto a land that I will show thee." But what mysterious windings there
often are before that land is reached! But God's windings are never
wasteful and purposeless. The apparent deviations are always gracious
preparations. We are taken out of the way in order that we may the more
richly reach our end. George Pilkington yearned to go to the foreign
field, and God sent him to a dairy farm in Ireland. But the Irish dairy
farm proved to be on the way to Uganda; and all the experience and
knowledge which Pilkington picked up in this strange business proved
invaluable when he reached his appointed field. "He bringeth the blind by
a way that they know not."

So I will remember that the "short cut" is not always the finest road.
God's round-about ways are filled with heavenly treasure. Every winding is
purposed for the discovery of new wealth. What riches we gather on the way
to God's goal!

    "The hill of Zion yields
       A thousand sacred sweets
     Before we reach the heavenly fields
       Or walk the golden streets."



OCTOBER The Thirteenth

_THE ROYAL AIR_

GALATIANS iii. 6-14.


Emerson says somewhere that he has noticed that men whose duties are
performed beneath great domes acquire a stately and appropriate manner.
The vergers in our great cathedrals have a dignified stride. It is not
otherwise with men who consciously live under the power of vast
relationships. Princes of royal blood have a certain great "air" about
them. The consciousness of noble kinships has an expansive influence upon
the soul. The Jews felt its influence when they called to mind "our Father
Abraham."

So is it with men and women of glorious kinships in the realm of faith.
Their souls expand in the vast and exalted relations. "The children of
faith" have vital communion with all the spiritual princes and princesses
of countless years. They have blood-relationship with the patriarchs, and
psalmists, and prophets, and they dwell "in heavenly places" with Paul,
and Augustine, and Luther, and Wesley.

Surely, such exalted kinship should influence our very stride, and set its
mark upon our "daily walk and conversation." It ought to make us so big
that we can never speak a mean word, or do a petty and peevish thing.



OCTOBER The Fourteenth

_COMMONPLACE PEOPLE_

JOHN i. 35-47.


Our Lord delights to glorify the commonplace. He loves to fill the common
water-pots with His mysterious wine. He chooses the earthen vessels into
which to put His treasure. He calls obscure fishermen to be the
ambassadors of His grace. He proclaims His great Gospel through provincial
dialects, and He fills uncultured mouths with mighty arguments. He turns
common meals into sacraments, and while He breaks ordinary bread He
relates it to the blessing of heaven.

And "this same Jesus" is among us to-day, with the same choices and
delights. He will make a humdrum duty shine like the wayside bush that
burned with fire and was not consumed. He will make our daily business the
channel of His grace. He will take our disappointments, and, just as we
sometimes put banknotes into black-edged envelopes, He will fill them with
treasures of unspeakable consolation. He will use our poor, broken,
stammering speech to convey the wonders of His grace to the weary sinful
souls of men.



OCTOBER The Fifteenth

_THE CALL AND THE EQUIPMENT_

LUKE v. 27-32.


Matthew was very weary, and the all-seeing Lord read the signs of his
spiritual dissatisfaction and unrest. As Jesus "passed by" nothing escaped
His watchful eye. He saw a look in Matthew's eye as of some caged creature
longing for freedom. Matthew's office, the contempt of his fellows, and
perhaps his own self-contempt held him in imprisoning disquietude. The
Lord knew it all, and one word from Him and the iron gate was open, and
the prisoner was free! "Follow Me! And he left all, rose up, and followed
Him." With the Lord's command was conveyed the ability to obey, and
Matthew stepped into "the glorious liberty of the children of God."

And this is the Master's way. His calls are always equipments. Every
received commandment is also the vehicle of requisite grace. God's decrees
are also promises, nay, they are immediate endowments. If we reverently
open one of His callings we shall find it a store-house of needed
strength.

And therefore we need not fear the calls of the Lord. They are not the
harsh commandments of a tyrant, they are the loving invitations of a
friend. If we obey them we shall taste the grace of them, and "His
statutes will become our songs."



OCTOBER The Sixteenth

_THE INSPIRATIONS OF THE PAST_

ISAIAH li. 1-6.


Here is a sentence from Lord Morley: "If a man is despondent about his
work the best remedy I can prescribe for him is to turn to a good
biography." He counsels him to go into the yesterdays to find inspiration
for the life of to-day. Other men's attainments are bugle-calls to me.
"Look unto Abraham, your father." Look unto the blessings which waited
upon his obedience! See how springs of refreshment broke out in the
troubled way! God "called him and blessed him." Rekindle your hope at his
radiant triumph. Strengthen your will in his glorious persistence.

Here do I see God's mercy in the gift of memory and in the witness of
history. I can turn to the yesterdays for light and quickening. "Do ye not
remember the miracle of the loaves?" Yes, I can recall the grace that met
me in my need, the power that made the crooked straight and the rough
places plain. And I am privileged to turn the pages of other men's
testimonies and read the record of the Lord's dealings with them. And so
do memory and history come as helpful angel-presences to my soul.

    "His love in time past
       Forbids me to think
     He'll leave me at last
       In trouble to sink."



OCTOBER The Seventeenth

_NO QUEST OF GOD_

"_He inquired not of the Lord._"
--1 CHRONICLES x. 6-14.


That was where Saul began to go wrong. When quest ceases, conquests cease.
"He inquired not"; and this meant loss of light. God will be inquired
after. He insists that we draw up the blinds if we would receive the
light. If we board up our windows He will not drive the gentle rays
through our hindrance. We must ask if we would have. The discipline of
inquiry fits us for the counsel of the Lord.

"He inquired not"; and this meant loss of sight. When light fails, sight
fails. The ponies in our pits become blind. When a spiritual power is not
exercised in the heavenly, it is deprived of its appointed functions. And
the tragedy is this, that the blind are deceived into thinking that they
still retain their sight. "Ye say, we see!"

"He inquired not"; and this meant loss of might. For "the light of life"
is not only illumination; it is inspiration too. It is both light and
heat; it confers guidance and dynamic. When a man, therefore, refuses the
light he becomes a weakling, and he will meet with disaster in the first
tempestuous day.



OCTOBER The Eighteenth

_UNANIMITY IN THE SOUL_

"_A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways._"
--JAMES i. 1-8.


If two men are at the wheel with opposing notions of direction and
destiny, how will it fare with the boat? If an orchestra have two
conductors both wielding their batons at the same time and with
conflicting conceptions of the score, what will become of the band? And a
man whose mind is like that of two men flirting with contrary ideals at
the same time will live a life "all sixes and sevens," and nothing will
move to purposeful and definite issues. If the mind flirt with Satan and
Christ, life will be filled with disastrous instability and confusion.

The first thing we need, therefore, for influential and impressive living
is unanimity. Unanimity in the mind is the primary factor in a forceful
life. To bring "all that is within me" into concord, to make every
instrument of the soul bow to one conductor, to lead all the powers into
homage to the Lord--this is the unanimity which assures the perfection of
holiness. "Unite my heart to fear Thy name." That is the mood which wins
life's prize, "the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."



OCTOBER The Nineteenth

_READY!_

"_Let your loins be girded about._"
--LUKE xii. 35-40.


Loose garments can be very troublesome. An Oriental robe, if left
ungirdled, entangles the feet, or is caught by the wind and hinders one's
goings. And therefore the wearer binds the loose attire together with a
girdle, and makes it firm and compact about his body. And loose principles
can be more dangerous than loose garments. Indefinite opinions, caught by
the passing wind of popular caprice, are both a peril and a burden. Many
people go through life with loose beliefs and purposes, and they never
arrive at any glorious goal. "Let your loins be girded about." Bind your
loose thinkings together with the girdle of truth into firm and saving
conviction.

"_And your lights burning._"

Be ready for the emergency. When the darkness falls, don't have to hasten
away to buy oil. Look after your resources, and be competent to meet the
crisis when it comes. Let the light of conscience be burning with clear
flame, like a brilliant lighthouse on a dangerous shore. Let the light of
love be burning, like a lamp which sends its friendly, cheery beams to the
pilgrims of the night. "Our sufficiency is of God," and the oil of grace
will keep the lights burning through the longest night.



OCTOBER The Twentieth

_THE LORD AS THE SERVANT_

"_Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His
hands, and that He came forth from God, and goeth to God_...."
--JOHN xiii. 1-20.


And how shall we expect the sentence to finish? What shall be the issue of
so vast a consciousness? "_He took a towel, and girded Himself ... and
began to wash the disciples' feet._"

So a mighty consciousness expresses itself in lowly service. In our
ignorance we should have assumed that divinity would have moved only in
planetary orbits, and would have overlooked the petty streets and ways of
men. But here the Lord of Glory girds Himself with the apron of the slave,
and almightiness addresses itself to menial service.

And that is the test of an expanding consciousness. We may be sure that we
are growing smaller when we begin to disparage humble services. We may be
sure we are growing larger when we love the ministries that never cry or
lift their voices in the streets. When a man begins to despise the
"towel," he is losing his kingly dignity, and is resigning his place on
the throne. "I have given you an example that ye also should do as I have
done to you."



OCTOBER The Twenty-first

_THE CONTRITE HEART_

ISAIAH lvii. 13-21.


Let us look at this description of the dwelling-place of the Eternal God.
"_I dwell with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit._"

And who are the contrite? In the original word there is the significance
of pieces of rock or lumps of soil having been crumbled into the finest
powder. Have I not sometimes heard the phrase--"He's just a lump of
pride"? Well, that pride has to be broken down into the finest powder,
until not a bit of stubborn self-conceit remains. And then the contrite
become the humble! Our gracious Lord has sometimes to use heavy hammers in
the destruction of this hard and stony pride: the shock of calamity, the
battering of disappointment and defeat! Our pride _must_ be ground to
powder. Then He will come in and dwell with us!

And what then? He will "_revive the spirit of the humble, and revive the
heart of the contrite ones_." Our broken pride shall be as broken soil in
which our Lord will grow the flowers and fruits of the Spirit. The death
of pride shall be followed by a revival of all things sweet and beautiful.
When pride is laid low, it is a "day of resurrection." The wilderness
shall "blossom as the rose."



October The Twenty-second

_THE TRUE STANDARD OF GREATNESS_

MATTHEW xviii. 1-7.


Here is our Lord's estimate of true greatness. How infinite is the
contrast between His standard and the standards of the world! The world
measures greatness by money, or eloquence, or intellectual skill, or even
by prowess on the field of battle. But here is the Lord's
standard--"_Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little
child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven._"

Those people are greatest who are most like God. We become partakers of
the Divine nature through a child-like relationship to God. The grace and
power of God pour into our souls when we wait upon Him like a little
child.

Child-likeness opens the doors and windows to the incoming of the
Almighty. The child-like is the trustful, and no barriers of cynical
suspicion block the channels of spiritual communion. And the child-like is
the docile, and no boulders of arrogance or self-conceit block the channel
of the invigorating waters of life. And so the child-like become the
God-like, and, of course, they are the greatest among the sons of men. The
little child enshrines the secret of the God-man, and we should be
infinitely wise if we had the little child always in our midst.



OCTOBER The Twenty-third

_MASTERS AND SERVANTS_

MATTHEW xx. 20-28.


It is always our peril that we hunger for place more than for character,
for position more than for disposition, for a temporal sceptre more than
for a majestic self-control.

These disciples coveted places on the right and left of the Lord, and they
had little or no concern about their worthiness for the posts.
Temporalities eclipsed spiritualities, fleeting fireworks hid the quiet
stars. They wanted to be great and prominent, the Lord wanted them to be
pure and good. They longed to be Prime Ministers, the Lord purposed that
they should be glad to be ministers, working contentedly in an obscure
place.

Now mark our Lord's response. "_Are ye able to drink of the cup that I
drink of?_" They wanted to be the King's cup-bearers; He offers them to
drink of His cup. They call for sovereignty: He asks for sacrifice. They
crave sweetness: He offers them bitterness. They seek a life of "getting":
He demands a life of "giving." Who has a cup of bitterness to drink? Go
and share it with him! Where are the morally and spiritually anæmic? Go
and give them thy blood! "Whoever shall lose his life shall find it."
Through self-sacrifice we pass to our throne.



OCTOBER The Twenty-fourth

"_PUSH_" _AND_ "_PULL_"

LUKE xiv. 1-11.


The world canonizes "push." It eulogizes the "man of push." It loves to
see a man elbowing his way through the jostling crowd, and gaining for
himself a "chief seat" at life's feast. He is proclaimed a "successful"
man, and he rises in "the chief seat," and amid loud hurrahs he responds
to the toast of his health.

Yes, "push" is the word of the world, but "pull" is the word of the Lord,
and between the two there is the difference of darkness and light. "Push"
is selfish and exclusive: "pull" is inclusive and neighbourly. "Push"
takes as its motto, "The weakest to the wall!" "Pull" takes as its motto,
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."

The final verdict upon life will be founded, not upon our own success in
gaining a chief seat, but upon our success in encouraging the faint and
the weakling, and in "helping lame dogs over stiles."

My gracious Lord, help me to put on "a heart of compassion" that by
neighbourly feeling and ministry I may lead my fellows to the choice
places of life's feast.



OCTOBER The Twenty-fifth

_THE ROBE OF HUMILITY_

1 PETER v. 1-11.


Let me, therefore, learn this lesson, that if my Lord should give me
prominence in His church it is not to feed my lust of dominion, but in
order to strengthen and extend the influence of the church's life.
"_Neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making
yourselves ensamples to the flock._"

The only truly imperial purple is the robe of humility. Any other sort of
attire may appear to be kingly, but it has none of the glorious
significance which belongs to our sovereign Lord. When a man puts on the
robe of pride, he immediately belittles his manhood. When a man puts on
the robe of humility, he becomes a greater man.

But humility is more than an imperial robe, it is a complete armour. It is
fine for defence! The devil cannot get at the man who is "clothed in
humility." There is no chink or crevice through which his deadly rapier
can pierce. And it is equally fine for offence! Wearing this armour we can
go out "redressing human wrongs." The stroke of pride is ever futile. When
the humble man deals a blow, the power of the Almighty is in his right
hand. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God."



OCTOBER The Twenty-sixth

_THE LUST OF THE EXTERNAL_

MATTHEW xxiii. 1-12.


Pharisaism is the lust of externalities, and the utter negligence of the
inward sanctities of the spirit. It thinks more of decorum than of
holiness, more of etiquette than of equity, more of ritualism than of "the
robe of righteousness and the garment of salvation." Pharisaism lives in
the streets: it does not dwell in the inner chambers of our mystic life.

Pharisaism thirsts for the homage of men and not for the approbation of
God. It is far more alert to the "Rabbi! Rabbi!" of the crowd than it is
to the secret callings of the Lord. The path between itself and the
highest is unfrequented and grass-grown; the path between itself and the
multitude is a well-trodden and barren road.

My Lord, let me be warned! Let me not pervert the ministries of religion
to the aggrandizement of self. Let me not, in appearing to worship Thee,
be seeking the worship of men. Give me singleness of mind. Give me purity
of heart. And may I discover true greatness in seeking greatness for
others.



OCTOBER The Twenty-seventh

_PAYING HOMAGE TO THE KING_

PROVERBS iii. 1-12.


"Acknowledge Him." But not with a passing nod of recognition. I must not
merely glance at Him now and again, admitting His existence on the field.
To acknowledge Him is to acknowledge Him as King, with the right to
control, and as predominant partner in all the affairs of my life, even
the right to give the determining voice in all my decisions. No, it is not
the recognition paid to an acquaintance, it is the homage paid to a King.

And if I thus acknowledge Him, He will direct my paths. Life shall always
be moving on to its purposed end and glory. The path chosen will not
always be the most alluring one, but it will be the right one, and
therefore the safe one, and there will be wonderful discoveries on the
uninviting track.

How will He let me know which path to take? I cannot say. We can never
anticipate God's ways of dealing with us. But if my life is bent to the
loving acknowledgment of His will, He will assuredly find a way to make
His will known. The light will always reach the willing mind.



OCTOBER The Twenty-eighth

_PLEASANTNESS AND PEACE_

"_Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace._"
--PROVERBS iii. 13-26.


In the ways of the Lord I shall have feasts of "pleasantness." But not
always at the beginning of the ways. Sometimes my faith is called upon to
take a very unattractive road, and nothing welcomes me of fascination and
delight. But here is a law of the spiritual life. The exercised faith
intensifies my spiritual senses, and hidden things become manifest to my
soul--hidden beauties, hidden sounds, hidden scents! Faith adds a
mysterious "plus" to my powers, and "all things become new."

And in the ways of the Lord I shall also find the gracious gift of peace.
Not that the road will be always smooth, but that I may be always calm. I
can be unperturbed when "all around tumultuous seems." I can journey in
holy serenity, because the Lord of the road is with me. For peace
consists, not in friendliness of circumstances, but in friendship with the
Lord.



OCTOBER The Twenty-ninth

_THE STORY OF THE PAST_

DEUTERONOMY xxxi. 7-13.


And no ears are more receptive to spiritual story than the ears of a
little child. It is not needful to open the gate of interest; it is wide
ajar already. And imagination also is there, ready to busy itself about
the story. And so, too, is the spirit of homage and adoration. The
children are ready for the King! "Suffer little children to come unto Me,
for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

And, therefore, we have need of wise tellers of the story, who know the
story themselves. And in these delicate regions I must ever remember how
much my spirit shares in the story I tell. My spirit is a friend or a foe
to my power. My words may be well chosen, but they may all be light as
empty shells, devoid of all vitality. My words have just the power of
their spiritual contents. "You cannot fight the French with 200,000 red
uniforms," said Carlyle; "there must be men inside them." And we cannot
engage in the evangelization with mere uniforms of words. There must be
spirit inside them, even the spirit of pure and consecrated lives.



OCTOBER The Thirtieth

_A TESTIMONY MEETING_

PSALM xxxiv. 1-11.


This is a little testimony meeting, in which each of the witnesses tells
the story of the Lord's gracious dealings with him. Let me listen to them.

"_He delivered me from all my fears._" His fears held him in dungeons.
Even the noontide was as darkness round about him, and there was no song
in his soul. And the Lord broke open the prison-gate and let him out to
light, and joy, and belief.

"_They looked to Him and were lightened._" They looked upon the grace of
the Lord, and were lit up, just as I have seen humble cottage windows
ablaze with the glory of the rising sun. I must "set my face" towards the
Lord, and I, too, shall catch the radiance of His glory.

"This poor man cried ... _and the Lord saved him out of all his
troubles_." And these troubles were what I should call "tight corners,"
when the life is hemmed in by unfortunate circumstances, and there seems
no way of escape. Disappointment shuts us in. Sorrow shuts us in. Lack of
money shuts us in. Let me cry unto the Lord. He is a wonderful Friend in
the tight corner, and He will bring my feet into "a large place."



OCTOBER The Thirty-first

_TWO GREAT MYSTERIES_

PSALM lxxxi.


This is an unutterable mystery, that a man can close his life against God.
"_Israel would have none of Me._" We can shut out God as we can shut out
the pure air. We can bar His entrance just as we can exclude the light
from the chamber. And then the pity is, we can deceive ourselves into
believing that the air is perfectly fresh and that the room is flooded
with light. We lose our fine discernment, and we call evil good, and the
darkness we call day. If we "refuse to have God" in our thoughts God gives
us over to a "reprobate mind."

And it is an equally unutterable mystery that a man can open his life to
the entertainment of Almighty God. "I will dwell with them!" That is my
supreme honour, that the Lord will be my guest. I can "hearken" to Him,
and "talk" to Him, and "walk" with Him. And He offers me protection. He
will "subdue my enemies." And He offers me unfailing provision. The Guest
becomes the Host! I put my little upon the table, and lo! I find that "the
cruse of oil fails not, and the meal in the barrel is not consumed!"



NOVEMBER The First

_IN THE DAYS OF YOUTH_

ECCLESIASTES xii. 1-7.


In my university days at Edinburgh there was a young medical student named
Macfarlane. He was one of our finest athletes, and everybody liked him.
One day he was stricken with typhoid, which proved fatal. Macfarlane in
his days of boisterous health had neglected his Lord, and when one of his
friends, visiting him in his sickness, led his thoughts to the Saviour, he
turned and said, "But wouldn't it be a shabby thing to turn to Christ
now?" "Yes," replied his friend, "it will be a shabby thing, but it will
be shabbier not to turn to Him at all!" And I believe that poor Macfarlane
turned his shame-filled soul to the Lord.

But it is shabby to offer our Lord the mere dregs in life's cup. It is
shabby to offer Him the mere hull of the boat when the storms of passion
have carried its serviceableness away. Let me offer Him my best, my finest
equipment, my youth! Let me offer Him the best, and give Him the helm when
I am just setting sail and life abounds in golden promise! "Remember now
thy Creator in the days of thy youth."



NOVEMBER The Second

_LEADING TO CHRIST_

"_Suffer little children to come unto Me._"
--MARK x. 13-22.


"Unto _Me_!" We must not keep them at any half-way house. We are so prone
to be satisfied if only we bring them a little way along the road. If we
get them to pray! If we get them to attend the Lord's house! If we get
them to be truthful and gentle! All of which is unspeakably good. It is a
blessed thing to be in "the ways of Zion"; it is a far more blessed thing
to be in the palace with Zion's King and Lord. When we are dealing with
little children, every road must lead to Jesus, and not until the road is
trodden and we arrive at Him must we think our ministry accomplished.

And, therefore, if I am talking to the little ones about Samuel, or David,
or Paul, I must always see the short lane which leads to the Lord. "Suffer
the little children to come unto _Me_!" And once they really own Him, we
may trust their instincts for the rest. The heart in the child will leap
to the love of the Lord, "for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." When a
little one sees the Saviour, it is "love at first sight"!



NOVEMBER The Third

_THE LORD'S OWN_

JOHN xv. 11-25.


The "Lord's own" possess the Lord's love. "_I have loved you._" And love
is not a beautiful sentiment, a passive rainbow stretched over the realm
of human life. It is a glorious, active energy, infinitely more powerful
than electricity, and always besieging the gates of the soul, or
ministering to its manifold needs. Love is the greatest force in the
world.

And the "Lord's own" are taken into the inner circle of intimacy, where
the deepest secrets dwell. We are not kept on the door-step, or left
standing in the hall, or limited to one or two "public rooms"; we are
privileged to enter the King's privacy, and be nourished at the King's
table, and listen to the King's table-talk concerning "all things" which
He has heard of the Father. We have "the glorious liberty of _the
children_ of God."

And the "Lord's own" will experience the world's hatred. "_Therefore the
world hateth you._" Our very friendship with the Lord pronounces judgment
on the world, and its hostility is aroused. If we are "partakers of the
glory" we shall most assuredly be "partakers of the sufferings of
Christ."



NOVEMBER The Fourth

_THE HOLY SPIRIT AS WITNESS_

JOHN xv. 26--xvi. 11.


The Holy Spirit is to be a witness of Jesus. "_He shall testify of Me._"
He shall be "the Friend of the Bridegroom," and He shall sing the
Bridegroom's grace, and goodness, and prowess, in the eager ear of the
bride. And the early love of the bride shall become deeper and richer as
more and more she enters into "the unsearchable riches of Christ."

And the Holy Spirit is thus to be a strengthener of the friends of the
Lord. He will be my "_Comforter_." By His gracious advocacy He will make
my faith and hope invincible. The best service which can be rendered me is
not to change my circumstances, but to make me superior to them; not to
make a smooth road, but to enable me to "leap like an hart" over any road;
not to remove the darkness, but to make me "sing songs in the night." And
so I will not pray for less burdens, but for more strength! And this is
the gracious ministry of "The Comforter."

Holy Spirit, strengthen me! Transform my frail opinions into firm
convictions, and change my fleeting, dissolving views into abiding
visions!



NOVEMBER The Fifth

_THE TEMPLE OF THE BODY_

ROMANS xii. 1-9.


The Lord wants my body. He needs its members as ministers of
righteousness. He would work in the world through my brain, and eyes, and
ears, and lips, and hands, and feet.

And the Lord wants my body as "_a living_ sacrifice." He asks for it when
it is thoroughly alive! We so often deny the Lord our bodies until they
are infirm and sickly, and sometimes we do not offer them to Him until
they are quite "worn out." It is infinitely better to offer them even then
than never to offer them at all. But it is best of all to offer our bodies
to our Lord when they are strong, and vigorous, and serviceable, and when
they can be used in the strenuous places of the field.

And so let me appoint a daily consecration service, and let me every
morning present my body "a living sacrifice" unto God. Let me regard it as
a most holy possession, and let me keep it clean. Let me recoil from all
abuse of it--from all gluttony, and intemperance, and "riotous living."
Let me look upon my body as a church, and let the service of consecration
continue all day long. "Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of
the Holy Spirit?"



NOVEMBER The Sixth

_PEACE IN TRIBULATION_

JOHN xvi. 25-33.


Here is a strange medley of experiences! I am to enjoy the gift of peace,
and yet I am to be smarting under tribulation!

When the Holy Spirit is my guest I am to enjoy the gift of peace. "_These
things I said unto you that ye might have peace._" The life of the soul is
to move without jar or discord. It shall be like a quiet engine-house, in
which every wheel co-operates with every other wheel, and there is no
waste or friction in the holy place. "All that is within me" blesses God's
holy name.

And yet, while peace reigns within, there may be tribulation without! "_In
the world ye shall have tribulation._" Here is a peace which is not broken
by the noise and assault of brutal circumstance. The most tempestuous wind
cannot disturb the quiet serenity of the stars. When the world stones me,
not one grain of its gritty dust need enter the delicate workings of my
soul. That was the peace of my Lord, and it is my Lord who says to me: "My
peace I give unto you!" So "_be of good cheer_," my soul! Thy Lord has
"_overcome the world_," and thou shalt share His victory.



NOVEMBER The Seventh

_REJECTED LOVE_

ISAIAH lxiii. 7-14.


If I refuse the friendship of the Holy One I inevitably invite His
hostility. "_But they rebelled, and vexed His holy Spirit: therefore He
was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them._"

And so, if I reject the forces of grace I do not turn them from my gate, I
convert them into foes. Malachi teaches me that rejected sunshine becomes
like a burning oven. The Epistle to the Hebrews teaches me that rejected
love becomes "a consuming fire." Holiness nourishes virtue, it withers
vice. If I offer my Lord a tender aspiration, His breath wooes it like the
balmy air of the spring; if I come before Him with the weeds of ignoble
dispositions, He blights them as with the nipping of the frost.

And is it not well, for thee and me, that our Lord is thus fiercely
hostile to our sins? Is not this "consuming fire" the friend of my soul?
May I not pray: Burn on, burn on, pure flame, until all the refuse and
rubbish of my life are utterly consumed; burn on, burn on, until fierce
flame becomes mild light, flinging its genial radiance over a transfigured
desert?



NOVEMBER The Eighth

_THE ORGAN OF SPIRITUAL VISION_

1 CORINTHIANS ii. 9-16.


Our finest human instruments fail to obtain for us "_the things which God
hath prepared for them that love Him_."

Art fails! "_Eye hath not seen._" The merely artistic vision is blind to
the hidden glories of grace. Philosophy fails! "_Neither hath ear heard._"
We may listen to the philosopher as he spins his subtle theories and
weaves his systematic webs, but the meshes he has woven are not fine
enough to catch "the deep things of God." Poetry fails! "_Neither hath it
entered into the heart of man to conceive._" Poetic imagination may
stretch her wings, and soar, but she fails to enter the guest-chamber of
the Lord, and take an inventory of "the things prepared." All these
gracious ministries fail to reach life's glorious and purposed end.

"_But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit._" When art, and
poetry, and philosophy all pitiably fail, the Spirit unveils to us the
bewildering feast. And so the unlearned has the same ultimate advantage as
the learned, and the cottager has equal privilege with the monarch. The
greatest things are not the perquisites of culture, but the endowments of
humility and holy faith. The poor man has access to the "many mansions,"
and finds a place at the King's feast.



NOVEMBER The Ninth

_THE HOLY SPIRIT AS EMANCIPATOR_

2 CORINTHIANS iii. 4-18.


In the Holy Spirit I experience a large emancipation. "_Where the Spirit
of the Lord is, there is liberty._" I am delivered from all enslaving
bondage--from the bondage of literalism, and legalism, and ritualism. I am
not hampered by excessive harness, by multitudinous rules. The harness is
fitting and congenial, and I have freedom of movement, and "my yoke is
easy and my burden is light."

And I am to use my emancipation of spirit in the ministry of
contemplation. I am to "_behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord_."
My thought has been set free from the cramping distractions devised by
men, and I am now to feast my gaze upon the holy splendours of my Lord. It
is like coming out of a little and belittling tent, to feast upon the
sunny amplitude of the open sky! I can "cease from man," and commune with
God.

And the contemplation will effect a transformation. "_We are changed into
the same image from glory to glory._" The serene brightness of the sky
gets into our faces. The Lord becomes "_the health of our countenance_,"
and we shine with borrowed glory.



NOVEMBER The Tenth

_NEVERTHELESS!_

LUKE v. 1-11.


Here is obedience in spite of the night of failure. "_Nevertheless, at Thy
word I will let down the net._" That word "nevertheless" has always made
history. It has been spoken after scourgings, after "bonds and
imprisonments." Ten thousand times has it been heard in the chamber of
bereavement, the first sound to break the awful silence. "At evening my
wife died.... In the morning I did as God commanded me." And may it be
true of me! May my "nevertheless" of willing obedience rise like a lark
above the storm.

And because there was obedience there came vision. In the wonderful answer
to his faith Peter beheld the glory of his Lord. And so I never know where
the unenticing road of obedience will lead me. At the end of the dull road
there will be some gracious surprise! It is the rugged path which leads to
the summit! The panorama comes as the reward of the toilsome climb!
Always, in the realm of the Spirit, the dogged "nevertheless" will lead to
the "shining tableland to which our God Himself is moon and sun."



NOVEMBER The Eleventh

_FOILING THE ENEMY'S PLOTS_

LUKE xxii. 24-34.


I do not meet my tempter alone. The engagement has been foreseen by my
Lord. "_Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you!_" The tempter's
plots, and wiles, and ambuscades are all clearly perceived. My Lord has
got the enemy's maps, and his plan of campaign, for all things are open to
the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. I do not fight a lonely warfare
on a dark and unknown field. My Lord Himself both scouts and fights for
those who are His own.

And one great means of His co-operation is the mighty ministry of
intercession. "_But I have prayed for thee._" That "but" is the massing of
the forces of heaven against the black and subtle hordes of hell. Let me
ever remember that the Lord's prayers are always the conveyers of holy
power to those for whom He prays. It is as when Christian met Apollyon in
the Valley of Humiliation: there comes a sudden accession of strength to
the bleeding warrior, and Apollyon retires wounded and beaten from the
field.

And the only way to preserve the fruits of a triumph is by helping other
warriors to gain a similar conquest. "_When thou art converted strengthen
thy brethren._" I shall retain the hard, muscular limbs of a soldier if I
am willing to share my blood with the entire army.



NOVEMBER The Twelfth

_THE FASHIONING OF A DENIAL_

LUKE xxii. 54-62.


From Peter's denial I would learn the peril of the first cowardly
surrender to sin. Surely Peter must have "trimmed" many times in the days
which preceded his actual discipleship. Great crises do not make men, they
reveal them. The men have been made in the smaller issues which go before.
We march to our crises by a gradient, every step of which is a moral
decision. The interior of the tree is secretly eaten away by white ants;
the tempest reveals and completes the destruction.

And I would learn from Peter's denial the cumulative power of sins. One
sin widens the road for a bigger one to follow. The second denial will be
more vehement than the first. The third will add the element of blasphemy.
Yes, every sin is a miner and sapper for a larger army in the rear. It not
only does its own work, it prepares the way for its successor.

But I will connect this "dark betrayal night" with that sweet
after-morning when the Lord and His denier met face to face by the lake.
And that sweet morning of reconciliation is a possible experience for all
the deniers of the Lord, and it is therefore possible for thee and me.



NOVEMBER The Thirteenth

_A TRANSFORMED FISHERMAN_

"_Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing._"
--JOHN xxi. 1-14.


Simon Peter had often gone a fishing, but never had he gone as he went in
the twilight of that most wonderful evening. He handled the ropes in a new
style, with a new dignity born of the bigger capacity of his own soul. He
turned to the familiar task, but with a quite unfamiliar spirit. He went a
fishing, but the power of the resurrection went with him.

This action of Simon Peter's is the only true test of the reality of any
spiritual experience. How does it fit me for ordinary affairs? A spiritual
festival should do for the soul what a day on the hills does for the
body--equip it for the better doing of the duties in the vale.

This action is also a preparative to a renewal of the gracious experience.
The road of common duty was just the way appointed for another meeting
with his Lord, for in the morning-light there came a voice across the
waters: "Children, have ye any meat?" "And that disciple whom Jesus loved
saith unto Peter: 'It is the Lord.'"



NOVEMBER The Fourteenth

_THE PURIFICATION OF LOVE_

JOHN xxi. 15-25.


"Lovest thou Me?" There was a day, only a little while back, when Simon
Peter's love was not yet purified, and it indulged itself in loud and
empty boasts. True love never blusters and brawls. It is like a stream of
water flowing silently underground, and secretly bathing the roots of
things, and keeping their heads fresh, and cool, and sweet. The boast has
now dropped out of the love! It is now ashamed of words! "Lord, Thou
knowest that I love Thee!"

Yes, true love expresses itself, not in clamorous boastfulness, but in
quiet services. It ministers to the Lord's sheep and the Lord's lambs. It
spends its strength on the mountains, "seeking that which is lost," and it
does this in the darkness, where there is no applauding crowd. The true
lover does not ask for some dramatic scene where he can die for the
beloved; he delights in obscure services, the feeding and tending of the
sheep of the flock.

But the love that does the humbler thing will be ready for the greater
sacrifice whenever the day shall demand it. Some day the once boastful
denier shall lay down his life for his Saviour, and through martyrdom he
shall pass to his crown.



NOVEMBER The Fifteenth

_THE MUSIC OF RECONCILIATION_

PSALM lxxxv.


Let me listen to this psalm of reconciliation, as it makes music for my
soul to-day.

It tells me of the Divine favour. "_Lord, Thou hast been favourable to Thy
land._" As I write these words, the sun has just slipped out from behind
the cloud. It has been there all the time, but the ministry of the cloud
was needed, and so it appeared as though there would be sun and spring no
more. "Behind a frowning Providence He hides a smiling face."

And it tells me of the Divine forgiveness. "_Thou hast forgiven the
iniquity of Thy people._" Yes, when the sun appears, He loosens the frozen
earth and streams, and turns the bondage into liberty. The soul that was
imprisoned in freezing guilt attains a joyous freedom.

And it tells me of revival. "_Wilt Thou not revive us again?_" It is the
next step in the returning spring. The sleeping, benumbed things will all
awake! "The flowers appear on the earth." Where grace reigns, graces
spring! Forgiveness is attended by renewal, and the wilderness begins to
"blossom like the rose."



NOVEMBER The Sixteenth

_THE MAKING OF A BRAVE MAN_

ACTS iv. 13-22.


Here is a marvellous transformation! I have been wondering at the
littleness of the denier, and now this same denier is making the world
wonder by his majestic boldness! His one resource is now the risen Christ,
and his one moral standard is "whether it be right!" Once he quailed
before an accusing maid; now he stands undaunted before the rulers of the
earth. How has it all come about?

He has been to the empty tomb. The awe of the resurrection is upon his
spirit. Through the once blind cul-de-sac of the grave he has seen the
King and the great white throne.

And he has been by the lake on the morning of reconciliation. The live
coal from the altar of his Lord's love has touched him and has purged away
the uncleanness of his denial.

And he has been in the upper room at Pentecost, and the mighty Spirit has
come upon him like wind and flame, endowing him with forceful and
enthusiastic character. Now he can dare for God, now he can work for God,
now he can burn for God! And this is how he has been transformed.



NOVEMBER The Seventeenth

_IF GOD BE FOR US----!_

ROMANS viii. 31-39.


Who else is worth naming? How much does anybody count? If the sun be on my
side, why should I be dismayed at any icy obstacle that may rear itself in
my way? Sun _versus_ ice! God _versus_ my impediments! Why should I fear?
If the atmosphere is on my side, then even the opposing strength of iron
will rust away into powder. "The breath of the Lord bloweth upon it," and
if the holy breath, God's Holy Spirit, is for us, then the apparently
invincible obstacle will crumble away into dust.

But we are deceived by mass, and we are forgetful of spirit. Mere size
affrights us. We are dismayed by numbers. We forget the quiet, pervasive,
all-powerful ministry of the Spirit of God. We are overwhelmed by the
phenomena of tempest and earthquake and fire, and we forget that
almightiness hides in the "still, small voice," in "the sound of a gentle
stillness." God's breath is more than the fierce threatenings of embattled
hosts. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" I will hide myself in
His holy fellowship, and "none shall make me afraid."



NOVEMBER The Eighteenth

_EXHILARANT SPIRITS_

"_He maketh my feet like hinds' feet._"
--PSALM xviii. 31-39.


I think of Wordsworth's lines, in which he describes a natural lady, made
by Nature herself:

    "She shall be sportive as the fawn
     That wild with glee across the lawn
        Or up the mountain springs."

And it is this buoyancy, this elasticity, this springiness that the Lord
is waiting to impart to the souls of His children, so that they may move
along the ways of life with the light steps of the fawn.

Some of us move with very heavy feet. There is little of the fawn about us
as we go along the road. There is reluctance in our obedience. There is a
frown in our homage. Our benevolence is graceless, and there is no charm
in our piety, and no rapture in our praise. We are the victims of "the
spirit of heaviness." And yet here is the word which tells us that God
will make our feet "like hinds' feet." He will give us exhilaration and
spring, enabling us to leap over difficulties, and to have strength and
buoyancy for the steepest hills. Let us seek the inspiration of the Lord.
"It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect."



NOVEMBER The Nineteenth

_THE ARMOUR OF GOD_

EPHESIANS vi. 10-18.


The Word describes the armour, and it directs us to the armoury. The
description would oppress me if the directions were absent. If I have to
forge the armour for myself I should be in despair. But I can go to the
armoury of grace, where there is an ever-open door and abundant welcome
for every person who fain would be a knight-errant of the Lord. The Lord
will provide me with perfect equipment suitable for every kind of contest
which may meet me along the road. There are no favourites among the
pilgrims except, perhaps, the neediest, and to them is given "more
abundant honour."

Sometimes one of the Lord's knights loses one piece of armour, and he must
at once repair to the armoury. Perhaps he has lost his helmet, or his
shield, or even his breastplate, and the enemy has discovered his
vulnerable place. We must never continue our journey imperfectly armed.
The evil one will ignore the pieces we have, and he will direct all his
attack where there is no defence. Back to the armoury! Back to the
armoury, that we may "put on the _whole_ armour of God." The Lord is
waiting; let us humbly and penitently ask for the missing piece.



NOVEMBER The Twentieth

_THE REAL ARISTOCRACY_

"_Abraham, my friend._"
--ISAIAH xli. 8-16.


I think that is the noblest title ever given to mortal man. It is the
speech of the Lord God concerning one of His children. It is something to
be coveted even to enjoy the friendship of a noble man; but to have the
friendship of God, and to have the holy God name us as His friends, is
surely the brightest jewel that can ever shine in a mortal's crown. And
such recognition and such glory may be the wonderful lot of thee and me.

"Abraham, my friend." The Lord of hosts found delight in human
friendships. He comes in to sup with us. He drinks of the cup of our
delights. For, surely, it is one of the supreme characteristics of true
friendship that it rejoices at the other's joy. And my heavenly Friend is
glad in my gladness as well as sympathetic in the day of sadness and
tears. Yes, He comes in to sup with me, and I may sup with Him.

"Abraham, my friend." And He shares His sweets with His friend, in inward
counsels, and in tender revelations of His purposes and in the gifts of
joy and peace. There is perfect openness between these friends; nothing is
hid. They have the run of each other's hearts.

    "I tell Him all my joys and fears,
     And He reveals His love to me."



NOVEMBER The Twenty-first

_THE EARLY BUILDERS_

1 KINGS viii. 1-21.


It is always a healthy means of grace to link my own accomplishments with
the fidelity and achievements of the past. Solomon traced his finished
Temple to the holy purpose in the heart of David his father. I lay the
coping-stone, but who turned the first sod? I lead the water into new
ministries, but who first dug the well?

There is the temple of liberty. In our own day we are enriching it with
most benignant legislation, but we must not forget our dauntless fathers,
in whose blood the foundations were laid. When I am walking about in the
finished structure, let me remember the daring architects who "did well"
to have it in their hearts.

Such retrospect will make me humble. It will save me from the isolation
and impotence of foolish pride. It will confirm me in human fellowship by
showing me how many springs I have in my fellow-men.

And such retrospect will make me grateful to my God. Noble outlooks always
engender the spirit of praise. The fine air of wide spaces quickens the
soul to a song.



NOVEMBER The Twenty-second

_RECOVERING LOST STRENGTH_

1 KINGS viii. 22-36.


In this portion of this great prayer I discern the unalterable mode in
which nations and individuals recover their moral health and strength.

How do they lose it? Two words tell the story. They "_sin_" and are
"_smitten_." It is an inevitable sequence. Every sin is the minister of
disease. Sometimes we can see it, when the disease flaunts its flags in
the flesh; lust and drunkenness have glaring placards, and we know what is
going on within. But even when sin makes no visible mark the wasting
process is at work. It is as true of falsehood as of drunkenness, of
treachery as of lust. "Evil shall slay the wicked."

And how do we recover our lost estate? There are three words which tell
the story. "_Turn!_" "_Confess!_" "_Make supplication!_" The words need no
exposition. I must turn my face to my despised and neglected Lord; I must
tell them all about my miserable revolt, and I must humbly crave for His
restoring grace.

And the answer is sure. Such humble exercise sets the joy-bells ringing,
and the rich forgiveness of the Lord fills the soul with peace. "O taste
and see how gracious the Lord is."



NOVEMBER The Twenty-third

_THE STRANGER_

1 KINGS viii. 37-53.


Yes, indeed, what space has "the stranger" in my supplications? Has he any
place at all? Are my intercessions private enclosures, intended only for
the select among my friends? Do I ever open the door to anyone outside my
family circle? Are my ecclesiastical sympathies large enough to include
"outsiders" from afar? What do I do with "the stranger"?

There is nothing which keeps prayer sweet and fresh and wholesome like the
letting in of "the stranger"! To let a new guest sit down at the feast of
my intercession is to give my own soul a most nutritious surprise. It is a
most healthy spiritual habit to see to it that we bring in a new
"stranger" every time we pray. Let me be continually enlarging the circle
of hospitality! Let some new and weary bird find a resting-place in the
branches of my supplications every time I hold communication with God.

A prayer which has no room for "the stranger" can have little or no room
for God.



NOVEMBER The Twenty-fourth

_THE PRAYER WHICH ENDS IN SACRIFICE_

1 KINGS viii. 54-66.


And that is the healthy order of all true worship. It begins in spacious
supplication in which "the stranger" finds a place. Then there is a lavish
consecration of self and substance. And then the wedding-bells begin to
ring, and "the joy of the Lord is our strength!" "_They went unto their
tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had
done._"

But so many suppliants miss the middle term, and therefore the gladness is
wanting. Supplication is not followed by consecration, and therefore there
is no exultation. It is a fatal omission. When we are asking for "the gift
of God" our request must be accompanied by the gift of ourselves to God.
If we want the water we must offer the vessel. No gift of self, no bounty
of God! No losing, no finding! "When the burnt offering began, the song of
the Lord began."

    "Take my life, and let it be
     Consecrated, Lord, to Thee."



NOVEMBER The Twenty-fifth

_AFTER THE PRAYER THE FIRE!_

"_When Solomon had made an end of praying the fire
came down from heaven._"
--2 CHRONICLES vii. 1-11.


And the fire is the symbol of the Holy God. Pure flame is our imperfect
mode of expressing the Incorruptible. This burning flame is heat and light
in one. And when Solomon had prayed, the holy Flame was in their midst.

But not only is the flame the symbol of the Holy; it also typifies the
power which can make me holy. We have no cleansing minister to compare
with fire. Where water fails fire succeeds. After an epidemic water is
comparatively impotent. We commit the infested garments to the flames. It
was the great fire of London which delivered London from the tyranny of
the plague. And so it is with my soul. God, who is holy flame, will burn
out the germs of my sin. He will "purify Jerusalem with the spirit of
burning." "Our God is a consuming fire."

Come to my soul, O holy Flame! Place Thy "burning bliss" against my
wickedness, and consume it utterly away!



NOVEMBER The Twenty-sixth

_UNCONSECRATED SOULS_

"_This house which I have sanctified will I cast out of my sight,
and will make it a proverb and a by-word among all nations._"
--2 CHRONICLES vii. 12-22.


And thus am I taught that consecrated houses are nothing without
consecrated souls. It is not the mode of worship, but the spirit of the
worshipper which forms the test of a consecrated people. If the worshipper
is defiled his temple becomes an offence. When the kernel is rotten, and I
offer the husk to God, the offering is a double insult to His most holy
name.

And yet, how tempted I am to assume that God will be pleased with the mere
outsides of things, with words instead of aspiration, with postures
instead of dispositions, with the letter instead of the spirit, with an
ornate and costly temple instead of a sweet and lowly life! Day by day I
am tempted to treat the Almighty as though He were a child! Nay, the Bible
uses a more awful word; it says men treat the Lord as though He were a
fool!

From all such irreverence and frivolity, good Lord, deliver me! Let me
ever remember that Thou "desirest truth in the _inward_ man." "In the
hidden parts" help me "to know wisdom."



NOVEMBER The Twenty-seventh

_THE VALUE OF REVERENCE_

ROMANS xiii. 1-7.


When I pay honour to honourable ministers I not only honour my God, but I
enrich and refine my own soul. One of the great secrets of spiritual
culture is to know how to revere. There is an uncouth spirit of
self-aggression which, while it wounds and impoverishes others, destroys
its finest spiritual furniture in its own ungodly heat. The man who never
bows will never soar. To pay homage where homage is due is one of the
exercises which will help to keep us near "the great white throne."

I know my peril, for I recognize one of the prevalent perils of our time.
Some of the old courtesies are being discarded as though they belonged to
a younger day. Some of the old tokens of respect have been banished to the
limbo of rejected ritual. Dignitaries are jostled in the common crowd.
"One man is as good as another!" And so there is a tendency to strip life
of all its reverences, and venerable fanes become stables for unclean
things.

My soul, come thou not into this shame! Move in the ways of life with
softened tread, and pay thy respect at every shrine where dwells the grace
and power of God.



NOVEMBER The Twenty-eighth

_HOW TO FIGHT EVIL_

"_Overcome evil with good._"
--ROMANS xii. 9-21.


For how else can we cast out evil? Satan cannot cast out Satan. No one can
clean a room with a filthy duster. The surgeon cannot cut out the disease
if his instruments are defiled. While he removed one ill-growth he would
sow the seed of another. It must be health which fights disease. It will
demand a good temper to overcome the bad temper in my brother.

And therefore I must cultivate a virtue if I would eradicate a vice. That
applies to the state of my own soul. If there be some immoral habit in my
life, the best way to destroy it is by cultivating a good one. Take the
mind away from the evil one. Deprive it of thought-food. Give the thought
to the nobler mood, and the ignoble mood will die. And this also applies
to the faults and vices of my brother. I must fight them with their
opposites. If he is harsh and cruel, I must be considerate and gentle. If
he is grasping, I must be generous. If he is loud and presumptuous, I must
be soft-mannered and self-restrained. If he is devilish, I must be a
Christian. This is the warfare which tells upon the empire of sin. I can
overcome evil with good.



NOVEMBER The Twenty-ninth

_TRANSFORMING OUR FOES_

MATTHEW v. 38-48.


"Love your enemies."

It must be the aim of a Christian to make his enemy lovely. It is not my
supreme business to secure my safety, but to remove his ugliness. He may
only annoy me, but he is destroying himself. He may injure my reputation;
but far worse, he is blighting his own character. Therefore must I seek to
remove the greater thing, the corrosive malady in his own soul. I must
make it my purpose to recover his loveliness, and restore the lost
likeness of the Lord.

And only love can make things lovely. Revenge can never do it. Even duty
will fail in the gracious work. There is a final touch, a consummate
bloom, to which duty can never attain, and which is only attainable by
love. All love's ministries are creative of loveliness. Wherever her
finger rests, something exquisite is born. Love is a great magician: she
transforms the desert into a garden, and she makes the wilderness blossom
like the rose.

But where shall we get the love wherewith to make our enemy lovely? From
the great Lover Himself. "We love, because He first loved us." The great
Lover will love love into us! And we, too, shall become fountains of love,
for our Lord will open "rivers in the high places, and fountains in the
midst of the valleys."



NOVEMBER The Thirtieth

_THE SPRING AND THE RIVER_

"_With the Lord there is mercy._"
--PSALM cxxx.


That is the ultimate spring. All the pilgrims of the night may meet at
that fountain. We have no other common meeting-place. If we make any other
appointment we shall lose one another on the way. But we can meet one
another at the fountain, men of all colours, and of all denominations, and
of all creeds. "By Thy mercy, O deliver us, good Lord!"

"_There is forgiveness with Thee._" That is the quickening river. Sin and
guilt scorch the fair garden of the soul as the lightning withers and
destroys the strong and beautiful things in woodland and field. The graces
are stricken, holy qualities are smitten, and the soul languishes like a
blasted heath. But from the fountain of God's mercy there flows the
vitalizing stream of His forgiveness. "There is a river the streams
whereof shall make glad the city of God." It is the mystic "river of life,
clear as crystal." "Everything shall live whither the river cometh."

"_With Him is plenteous redemption._" Salvation is not merely a recovered
flower, it is a recovered garden. It is not the restoring merely of a
withered hand; "He restoreth my soul." God does not make an oasis in a
surrounding desert; He makes the entire wilderness to "rejoice and blossom
as the rose."



DECEMBER The First

_A FAITHFUL FRIEND_

PROVERBS xxvii. 1-10.


"_A faithful friend is a strong defence._"

He is a gift of God, and therefore a "means of grace." The Lord's seal is
upon his ministry. How we impoverish ourselves by separating these
precious gifts from their Giver? We desecrate many a fair shrine by
emptying it of God. We turn many a temple into just a common house. When
we think of our friend let us link him to our Father, and fall upon our
knees in grateful praise.

He is God's minister in his encouragements. When he cheers me, it is "the
Sun of righteousness who rises with healing in His wings." All radiant
words are just lamps for "the light of life." All genial speech carries
flame from the altar fire of heaven.

And he is God's minister in his reproofs. He uses a clean knife: there is
no poison on the blade. And when he does surgeon's work upon me, it is
clean work, healthy work, the relentless enemy of disease. Some men cut
me, and the wound festers. There is malice in the deed. My friend wounds
me in order that he may give me a larger, sweeter life.



DECEMBER The Second

_THE LORD AS A FRIEND_

JOHN xv. 8-17.


"Ye are my friends!"

In my Lord's friendship there is _the ministry of sacrifice_. "Greater
love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
This great Friend is always giving His blood. It is a lasting shame when
professed Christians are afflicted with spiritual anæmia. And yet we are
often so fearful, so white-faced, so chicken-hearted, so averse from
battle, that no one would think us to be "the soldiers of the Lord." We
need blood. "Except ye drink my blood ye have no life."

And in my Lord's friendship there is the _privilege of most intimate
communion_.

"All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." He
takes us into His confidence, and tells us His secrets. It is His delight
to lift the veil, and give us constant surprises of love and grace. He
discovers flowers in desert places, and in the gloom He unbosoms "the
treasures of darkness." He is a Friend of inexhaustible resource, and His
companionship makes the pilgrim's way teem with interest, and abound in
the wonders of redeeming grace.



DECEMBER The Third

_ARMS AND THE MAN!_

1 THESSALONIANS v. 4-10.


What wonderful armour is offered to me in which to meet the insidious
assaults of the devil!

There is "_the armour of light_." Sunlight is the most sanative energy we
know. It is the foe of many a deadly microbe which seeks a lodging in our
bodies. Light is a splendid armour, even in the realm of the flesh. And so
it is in the soul. If the soul is a home of light, the eternal light, evil
germs will die as soon as they approach us. They will find nothing to
breed on. "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me."

And there is the armour of "_faith and love_." The opposite to faith is
uncertainty, and the opposite to love is cynicism, and who does not know
that uncertainty and cynicism are the very hotbeds for the machinations of
the evil one? When faith is enthroned the soul is open to the reception of
grace, and when love shares the throne the sovereignty is invincible.

And there is the armour of "_hope_." Even in a physical ailment a man has
a mighty ally who wrestles in hope. And when a man's hope is in the Lord
his God all the powers in the heavenly places are his allies, and by his
hope he shall be saved.



DECEMBER The Fourth

_CHILDREN OF LIGHT_

1 THESSALONIANS v. 5-11.


Can we think of a more beautiful figure than this--"_children of light_"?
As I write these words I look out upon a building every window of which is
ablaze with light, every room the home of attractive brightness. And my
life is to be like that! And I look again and I see a lighthouse sending
out its strong, pure, friendly beams to guide the mariner as he seeks his
"desired haven." And my life is to be like that! And I look once more, and
I see a common road lamp, sending its useful light upon the busy street,
helping the wayfarer as he goes from place to place. And my life is to be
like that!

And if my soul is all lit up in friendly radiance for others, the light
will be my own defence. Light always scares away the vermin. Lift up a
stone in the meadow, let in the light, and see how a hundred secret things
will scurry away. And light in the soul scares away "the unfruitful works
of darkness"; they cannot dwell with the light. Light repels the evil one;
it acts upon him like burning flame. Yes, we are well protected when we
are clothed in "the armour of light."

But how can we become "children of light," holy homes of protective and
saving radiance? Happily, it is not our lot to provide the light, it is
ours to provide the lamp. If we offer the lamp the Lord will give the
flame.



DECEMBER The Fifth

_THE SECOND-BEST FOR GOD_

1 CHRONICLES xvii. 1-15.


So the best was for man, and the second-best for God! The cedar for
self-indulgence, and the curtains for the home of worship! It is a marked
sign of spiritual awakening when a man begins to contrast his own
indulgences with the rights of God. There are so many of us who are lavish
in our home and miserly in the sanctuary. We multiply treasures which
bring us little profit, and we are niggardly where treasure would be of
most gracious service.

"I dwell in a house of cedar," and yet I am thoughtless about God's poor!
For I must remember that the poor are the arks of the Lord. "I was naked,
and ye clothed Me not."

"I dwell in a house of cedar"; my liberties are many and spacious; and yet
there are tribes of God's people held in the tyranny of dark and hopeless
servitude. I dwell in England, but what about the folk on the Congo? I
dwell in a land of ample religious freedom, but what about Armenia? Do my
sympathies remain confined within my cedar walls, or do they go out to
God's neglected ones in every land and clime?



DECEMBER The Sixth

_THE GRACE OF LOWLINESS_

1 CHRONICLES xvii. 16-27.


It is by such lowliness that we arrive at our true sovereignty. All
spiritual treasures are hidden along the ways of humility, and it is
meekness which discovers them. The uplifted head of pride overlooks them,
and its "finds" are only pleasure of the passing day.

Lowliness is the secret of spiritual perceptiveness. I find my sight in
lowly places. The Sacred Word speaks of "the _valley_ of vision." I
usually associate vision and outlook with mountain summits, but in
spiritual realms the very capacity to use the heights is acquired in the
vale.

Lowliness is the secret of spiritual roominess. It is only the humble man
who has any room for the Lord. All the chambers in the proud man's soul
are thronged with self-conceits, and God is crowded out. Our Lord always
finds ample room for Himself wherever the heart bows in humility and says:
"I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof."



DECEMBER The Seventh

_CHOSEN AS BUILDERS_

"_Take heed now, for the Lord hath chosen thee to build._"
--1 CHRONICLES xxviii. 1-10.


And how must he take heed? For it may be that the Lord hath also chosen me
to build, and the counsel given to Solomon may serve me in this later day.
Let me listen.

"_Serve Him with a perfect heart._" God's chosen builders must be
characterized by singleness and simplicity. He can do nothing with
"double" men, who do things only "by half," giving one part to Him and the
other part to Mammon. It is like offering the stock of a gun to one man
and the barrel to another; and the effect is nil. No, the entire gun! The
"perfect heart"!

"_And with a willing mind._" For the willing mind is the ready mind, and
God can do nothing with the unready. I never know just when He will call
me to add another stone to the rising walls of the New Jerusalem, and if I
am "otherwise engaged" I am a grievous hindrance to His gracious plans. He
must be willing and ready who would be a builder of the walls of Zion. And
to that man the Lord will entrust the privilege of responsibility.



DECEMBER The Eighth

_JUDGED BY OUR ASPIRATIONS_

"_Thou didst well, it was in thine heart._"
--2 CHRONICLES vi. 1-15.


And this was a purpose which the man was not permitted to realize. It was
a temple built in the substance of dreams, but never established in wood
and stone. And God took the shadowy structure and esteemed it as a
perfected pile. The sacred intention was regarded as a finished work. The
will to build a temple was regarded as a temple built. And hence I discern
the preciousness of all hallowed purpose and desire, even though it never
receive actual accomplishment. "Thou didst well, it was in thine heart."

And so the will to be, and the will to do, is acceptable sacrifice unto
the Lord! "I wish I could be a missionary to the foreign field," but the
duties of home forbid. But as a missionary she is accepted of our God,
even though she never land on distant shore. Our purposes work, as well as
the work itself. Desire is full of holy energy as well as fruition. The
wish to do good is good itself; the very longing is a minister in the
kingdom of our God. If, therefore, we are to be judged by our aspirations,
there are multitudes of apparent failures who will one day be revealed as
clothed in the radiance of spiritual victory.



DECEMBER The Ninth

_NATIONAL BLESSEDNESS_

"_Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound._"
--PSALM lxxxix. 1-18.


Blessed is the people who love the sound of the silver trumpet which calls
to holy convocation! Blessed is the people who are sacredly impatient for
the hour of holy communion! Blessed is the people "in whose heart are the
highways to Zion." And in what shall their blessedness consist?

In illumination. "_They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy
countenance._" The favour of the Lord shall shine upon them when they walk
through rough and troublous places. There shall always be a sunny patch
where the soul is in communion with its Lord.

In exultation. "_In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day._" There is
nothing like sunshine for making the spirits dance! Light is a great
emancipator, a great breaker-up of frozen bondages. It thaws "the genial
currents of the soul," and the stream of life sings in its progress.

In exaltation. "_In Thy righteousness shall they be exalted._" They will
be lifted up above their enemies. In elevation they will find their
safety. God lifts us above our passions, above our cares, above our little
fears and tempers, and we find our peace upon the heights.



DECEMBER The Tenth

_THE ONLY WISE BEGINNING_

"_The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom._"
--PSALM cxi.


If I want to do anything wisely I must begin with God. That is the very
alphabet of the matter. Every other beginning is a perverse beginning, and
it will end in sure disaster. "I am Alpha." Everything must take its rise
in Him, or it will plunge from folly into folly, and culminate in
confusion.

If I would be wise in my daily business I must begin all my affairs in
God. My career itself must be chosen in His presence, and in the
illumination of His most holy Spirit. And in the subsequent days nothing
must be done that is not rooted and grounded in Him.

If I would be wise as a teacher I must begin with God. I must not merely
call Him in to bless my lesson when my labour is done. The very beginnings
of my thinkings must be in Him. Our Lord will not write an appendix to a
volume about which He has never been consulted. "They who seek Me _early_
shall find Me." And so it is with the varied activities of our
multitudinous life. If we would have them shine with quiet wisdom we must
light them at the Sun of glory.



DECEMBER The Eleventh

_THE SPEECH OF THE INCARNATION_

"_He hath spoken to us in His Son._"
--HEBREWS i.


And that blessed Son spake my language. He came into my troubled
conditions and expressed Himself out of my humble lot. My surroundings
afforded Him a language in which He made known His good news. The
carpenter's shop, the shepherd on the hill, the ladened vine, a wayside
well, common bread, a friend's sickness, the desolation of a garden, the
darkness of "the last things"--these all offered Him a mode of speech in
which He unveiled to me the heart of God.

He came as the Son to make me a son. For I had made myself a slave, and
called my bondage freedom. I wore my badge of servitude with unholy pride.
But when He came and spake to me, my lost inheritance dawned upon my
wondering eyes, and I knew myself to be enslaved. But His was the glorious
mission not only to awake but to emancipate, not only to unveil lost
splendour but to recover it. He came to set us free, "and if the Son shall
make you free ye shall be free indeed."

"This my son was lost and is found." Has that great word been spoken
concerning me in the Father's home of light? "Lord, I would serve, and be
a son. Dismiss me not, I pray."



DECEMBER The Twelfth

_RELATING EVERYTHING TO GOD_

"_Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do,
do all to the glory of God._"
--1 CORINTHIANS x. 23-33.


And so all my days would constitute a vast temple, and life would be a
constant worship. This is surely the science and art of holy living--to
relate everything to the Infinite. When I take my common meal and relate
it to "the glory of God," the common meal becomes a sacramental feast.
When my labour is joined "unto the Lord," the sacred wedding turns my
workshop into a church. When I link the country lane to the Saviour, I am
walking in the Garden of Eden, and paradise is restored.

The fact of the matter is, we never see anything truly until we see it in
the light of the glory of God. Set a dull duty in that light and it shines
like a diamond. Set a bit of drudgery in that light and it becomes
transfigured like the wing of a starling when the sunshine falls upon it.
Everything is seen amiss until we see it in the glory! And, therefore, it
is my wisdom to set everything in that light, and to do all to the glory
of God.



DECEMBER The Thirteenth

_THE HOLY AND THE PROFANE_

"_Put difference between the holy and the unholy._"
--LEVITICUS x. 1-10.


The peril of our day is that so many of these differences are growing
faint. The holy merges into the unholy, and we can scarcely see the
dividing line. Black merges into white through manifold shades of grey.
Falsehood slopes into truth through cunning expediences and white lies.
Lust merges into purity through conviviality and geniality and
good-fellowship. So is one thing losing itself in another, and vivid moral
distinctions are being obscured and effaced.

There is only one way to keep these native contrasts in vivid relief, and
that is by living in the unsullied light of God's holy presence. "In Thy
light shall we see light." Things are seen in their true colours only when
we bring them before the great white throne. Fabrics seen in the gas-light
reveal quite other shades when we bring them into the light of day. We
must not make our distinctions in the gas-light of worldly standard and
expediency; we must take them into His presence before whose radiance even
the angels veil their faces, and we shall see things as they are, and we
shall know "the difference between the holy and the profane."



DECEMBER The Fourteenth

_THE SACRED USE OF LIBERTY_

"_Take heed lest this liberty of yours becomes a stumbling-block._"
--1 CORINTHIANS viii. 8-13.


That is a very solemn warning. My liberty may trip someone into bondage.
If life were an affair of one my liberty might be wholesome; but it is an
affair of many, and my liberty may be destructive to my fellows. I am not
only responsible for my life, but for its influence. When a thing has been
lived there is still the example to deal with. If orange peel be thrown
upon the pavement, that is not the end of the feast. The man who slips
over the peel is a factor in the incident, and my responsibility covers
him.

I am, therefore, to consider both my deeds and their influence. How does
my life trend when it touches my brother? In what way does he move because
of the impact of my example? Towards liberty or towards license? To the
swamps of transgression or to the fields of holiness? These are
determining questions, and I must not seek to escape or ignore them. My
brother is a vital part of my life. I must never shut him out of my sight.
How is he influenced by my example? "If meat make my brother to stumble, I
will eat no flesh while the world standeth."



DECEMBER The Fifteenth

_WHAT IS MY TENDENCY?_

"_Whether we live, we live unto_...."
--ROMANS xiv. 7-21.


Unto what? In what direction are we living? Whither are we going? How do
we complete the sentence? "We live unto _money_!" That is how many would
be compelled to finish the record. Money is their goal, and their goal
determines their tendency. "We live unto _pleasure_!" Such would be
another popular company. "We live unto _fame_!" That would be the banner
of another regiment. "We live unto _ease_!" Thus would men and women
describe their quests. "Unto" what? That is the searching question which
probes life to its innermost desire.

"For whether we live, we live _unto the Lord_." That was the apostle's
unfailing tendency, increasing in its momentum every day. He crashed
through obstacles in his glorious quest. He sought the Lord through
everything and in everything. When new circumstances confronted him, his
first question was this--"Where is Christ in all this?" He found the right
way across every trackless moor by simply seeking Christ.



DECEMBER The Sixteenth

_THE GREATEST WONDERS_

HEBREWS xi. 30-40.


The greatest wonders are not in Nature but in grace. A regenerated soul is
a greater marvel than the marvel of the spring-time. A transfigured face
is a deeper mystery than a sun-lit garden. To rear graces in a life once
scorched and blasted by sin is more wonderful than to grow flowers on a
cinder-heap. If we want to see the realm of surpassing wonders we must
look into a soul that has been born again and is now in vital union with
the living Christ. Even the angels watch the sight with ever-deepening awe
and praise.

As the spiritual is the home of wonders, so also is it the field of
brightest exploits. It is not what men have done by the sword that counts
in the esteem of heaven--such deeds mean little or nothing; it is what
they have done "by faith." Weak, frail men and women have put their faith
in God, and have done the impossible! Faith unites the weakling with
almightiness! Faith makes a lonely soul one with "the spirits of just men
made perfect," and with them he shares "the power and the glory" of the
eternal God.



DECEMBER The Seventeenth

_GOD'S PRESENCE OUR DEFENCE_

EXODUS xv. 11-18.


When we invent little devices to protect us against the evil one, he
laughs at our petty presumption. It is like unto a child erecting sand
ramparts against an incoming sea. The only thing that makes the devil fear
is the presence of God. Our money can do nothing. Our culture can do
nothing. Our social status can do nothing. Only God can deal with devils.
"By the greatness of Thine arm they shall be still as a stone." When Thou
art with me "I will fear no evil"; the fear shall be with my foes.

It is, therefore, the divine in anything which endows it with a strong
defence. If the holy God dwells in our culture, then our culture becomes
like an invulnerable fort. If God abides in our recreations, then our very
sports are armed against our foes. If "the joy of the Lord" is in our
festivity, then our very merriment is proof against the invasion of the
world. When the Lord is in us, fear dwells in the opposite camp.
"Therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed, and though the
mountains be shaken in the heart of the seas."



DECEMBER The Eighteenth

_THE SINNER'S GUEST_

"_He is gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner._"
--LUKE xix. 1-10.


It was hurled as an accusation; it has been treasured as a garland. It was
first said in contempt; it is repeated in adoration. It was thought to
reveal His earthliness; it is now seen to unveil His glory. Our Saviour
seeks the home of the sinner. The Best desires to be the guest of the
worst. He spreads His kindnesses for the outcasts, and He offers His
friendship to the exile on the loneliest road. He waits to befriend the
defeated, the poor folk with aching consciences and broken wills. He loves
to go to souls that have lost their power of flight, like birds with
broken wings, which can only flutter in the unclean road. He went to
Zacchæus.

Yes, the Lord went to be "guest with a man that is a sinner," and He
changed the sinner into a saint. The worldling found wings. The stone
became flesh. Gentle emotions began to stir in a heart hardened by
heedlessness and sin. Restitution took the place of greed. The home of the
sinner became the temple of the Lord. "To-day is salvation come to this
house forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham."



DECEMBER The Nineteenth

_THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS_

"_A light to lighten the Gentiles._"
--LUKE ii. 25-40.


That was the wonder of wonders. Hitherto the light had been supposed to be
for Israel alone; and now a heavenly splendour was to fall upon the
Gentiles. Hitherto the light had been thought of as a lamp, illuming a
single place; now it was to be a sun, shedding its glory upon a world. The
"people that sat in darkness" are now to see "a great light." New regions
are to be occupied; there is to be daybreak everywhere! "The Sun of
Righteousness is arisen, with healing in His wings."

"To lighten the Gentiles!" And thus the heavenly beams have come to thee
and me, to Europe and America, and to all the nations of the earth. The
amazing privilege is our personal inheritance. We are born to glorious
rights in Christ Jesus. But a wealthy heir may neglect this inheritance.
We may have the light and neglect our garden. We may have all the favours
of a blessed clime, and yet our life may be like a wilderness. The
Gentiles may have the light, and may yet be children of the darkness. It
is ours to believe in the light that our lives may become "light in the
Lord."



DECEMBER The Twentieth

_THE COMING OF THE LORD_

JOHN i. 1-14.


My Lord came as "_the word_." He came as the expression of the mind of the
eternal God. Ordinary words could not have carried the "good news."
Ordinary language was an altogether inadequate vessel for this new wine.
And so the mighty news was spoken in the incarnation of the Lord.

My Lord came as "life." "_In Him was life._" But not a mere cupful of
life, or even a cup running over. He came as "the fountain of life." Nay,
if I had the requisite word I must get even behind and beyond this. For He
was the Creator of fountains. "The water that I shall give him shall be
_in him a well_." Yes, He was the fountain of fountains!

The Lord came as "light." "_The life was the light._" True light is always
the child of life. Our clearest light comes not from speech or doctrine,
still less does it emerge from controversy. It is the fine, subtle issue
of fine living. And my light is to "shine before men" by reason of the
indwelling life of the Christ.

And my Lord came as "power." "_To them gave He power._" All the power I
need for a full, holy, healthy life I can find in Him. Every obligation
has its corresponding inspiration, and I am competent to do His will.



DECEMBER The Twenty-first

_THE LORD OF WORKING MEN_

LUKE ii. 8-20.


And so the good news was told to shepherds, to working men who were
toiling in the fields. The coming King would hallow the common work of
man, and in His love and grace all the problems of labour would find a
solution.

The Lord of the Christmas-tide throws a halo over common toil. Even
Christian people have not all learnt the significance of the angels' visit
to the lonely shepherds. Some of us can see the light resting upon a
bishop's crosier, but we cannot see the radiance on the ordinary
shepherd's staff. We can discern the hallowedness of a priest's vocation,
but we see no sanctity in the calling of the grocer, or of the scavenger
in the street. We can see the nimbus on the few, but not on the crowd; on
the unusual, but not upon the commonplace. But the very birth-hour of
Christianity irradiated the humble doings of humble people. When the
angels went to the shepherds, common work was encircled with an immortal
crown.

And it is in the Lord Jesus that all labour troubles are to be put to
rest. If we work from any other centre we shall arrive at confusion
confounded. "I have the keys."



DECEMBER The Twenty-second

_THE LORD OF THE WORSHIPPER_

LUKE ii. 25-35.


And so the good news was taken to the worshipper bowing within the gates
of the Temple. The soul of old Simeon was filled with holy satisfaction
and peace. The cravings of the heart were quieted, and its desires found
the coveted feast in the holy Child of God.

And thus the Lord Jesus was not only to dignify the body but to gratify
the soul. He was to be most efficient where He was most needed. And this
has been the unfailing experience of the years. There is a hunger in my
soul for which I can find no satisfying bread. I have tried many breads; I
have tried nature, and art, and music, and literature, and I have tried
human fellowship and social service. But my soul is hungry still! And the
Lord Jesus comes to me, as I reverently grope in the vast temple, and He
"satisfies the hungry soul" with good things. His "bread of life" is very
wonderful; it lifts the soul into the restfulness of strength, and gives
me a strange buoyancy, and "the glorious liberty of the children of God."

"My soul, wait thou only on Him!" He is thy hope, thy strength, and thy
salvation! He is "the desire of all the nations."



DECEMBER The Twenty-third

_THE LORD OF THE STUDENTS_

MATTHEW ii. 1-12.


And so the good news came to "wise men," shall we say to students, busying
themselves with the vast and intricate problems of the mind. And the
evangel offered the students mental satisfaction, bringing the
interpreting clue, beaming upon them with the guiding ray which would lead
them into perfect noon.

Yes, our wise men must find the key of wisdom in the Lord. In a wider
sense than the meaning of the original word it is true that "the fear of
the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." To seek mental satisfactions and
leave out Jesus is like trying to make a garden and leave out the sun.
"Without Me ye can do nothing," not even in the unravelling of the
problems which beset and besiege the mind.

If my mental pilgrimage is to be as "a shining light shining more and more
even unto perfect day," I must begin with Jesus, and pay homage to His
Kingly and incomparable glory. I must lay my treasures at His feet, "gold,
and frankincense, and myrrh." Then will He lead me "into all truth," and
"the truth shall make me free."



DECEMBER The Twenty-fourth

_ENTERING IN AT LOWLY DOORS_

"_Unto us a Child is born._"
--ISAIAH ix. 1-7.


How gentle the coming! Who would have had sufficient daring of imagination
to conceive that God Almighty would have appeared among men as a little
child? We should have conceived something sensational, phenomenal,
catastrophic, appalling! The most awful of the natural elements would have
formed His retinue, and men would be chilled and frozen with fear. But He
came as a little child. The great God "emptied Himself"; He let in the
light as our eyes were able to bear it.

"_Unto us a Son is given._" And that is the superlative gift! The love
that bestows such gift is all-complete and gracious. And the Son is given
in order that we may all be born into sonship. It is the Son's ministry to
make sons. "Now are we the sons of God," and we are of His creation.

    "Lord, I would serve, and be a son;
       Dismiss me not, I pray."



DECEMBER The Twenty-fifth

_CHRISTMAS CHEER_

"_Good will toward men!_"
--LUKE ii. 8-20.


The heavens are not filled with hostility. The sky does not express a
frown. When I look up I do not contemplate a face of brass, but the face
of infinite good will. Yet when I was a child, many a picture has made me
think of God as suspicious, inhumanly watchful, always looking round the
corner to catch me at the fall. That "eye," placed in the sky of many a
picture, and placed there to represent God, filled my heart with a
chilling fear. That God was to me a magnified policeman, watching for
wrong-doers, and ever ready for the infliction of punishment. It was all a
frightful perversion of the gracious teaching of Jesus.

Heaven overflows with good will toward men! Our God not only wishes good,
He wills it! "He gave His only begotten Son," as the sacred expression of
His infinite good will. He has good will toward thee and me, and mine and
thine. Let that holy thought make our Christmas cheer.



DECEMBER The Twenty-sixth

_DAYBREAK IN THE SOUL_

ISAIAH ix. 1-7.


It is a lonely and a chilling experience to sit in the darkness. And the
gloom and the cold are all the more intense when there is death in the
house. In such conditions we are in great need of light and fire.

And that is how the children of men were feeling before the Saviour came.
They "_sat in darkness_" and in "_the shadow of death_." The world was
cold, and sin and death were in it, and they longed for light and cheer.
And "the great Light came," and His wonderful Presence not only illumines
the house but banishes the fear of sin and death. "_They that dwelt in the
land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined._"

Where can we get this living light except in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Everything else is candle-light! It fails us in the midnight. It flickers
amid conflicting currents. It goes out in the rough blast. The light of
art and of literature fails me when I need them most. When I sit in the
darkness, with death in the house, these kindly ministers have no
effective beams. I turn to the Master, and He shines upon me, and it is
daybreak in the soul!



DECEMBER The Twenty-seventh

_THE SUNNY SIDE OF THINGS_

1 JOHN i. 1-7.


I have just come out of a gloomy room into a sunny room to write these
words. I had my choice. I could have stayed in the sombre room, but I
choose to come into the sun-lit room and the warm, cheering beams are even
now falling upon my page. "Walk in the light!" And I make my choice, and
how often I choose to walk without Christ in the unfertilizing and
unfruitful gloom of self-will! In the light of the Lord I could have a
garden of Eden; how often I choose the dingy wilderness where I can grow
neither flowers nor fruits.

"Walk in the light." The Lord's companionship always makes the sunny side
of the street. It may be that the way is rough and stony and difficult,
but in His company there is light that never fails, compared with which
the world's noontide is only as the gloomiest night. And the souls that
"walk in the light" gather "sacred sweets" all along the way. Heavenly
fruits grow for the children of light, fruits of love and joy and peace,
and the favoured pilgrim plucks them as he goes along. "All I find in
Jesus." The way of light is the way of delight, and "the joy of the Lord
is our strength."



DECEMBER The Twenty-eighth

_IN HIM WAS LIFE_

JOHN i. 1-18.


I have heard men speak of "wanting to see a bit of life," and I found that
what they meant was to see a bit of death. It is as if a man should go to
the hospital to see a bit of health, or as if he should go to a gory
battlefield to see the human frame. It is like going to a refuse-heap to
see a bit of garden. Life is not found in fields of license; it is not
found among the wild oats of a dissipated youth. Life is found only in
Christ, and if we want to see a bit of life we must go to Him.

"In Him was life"; and that not merely to be looked at but to be shared.
He is the well to which everybody can bring his pitcher, and take it away
filled. And my pitcher is just my need. "All the fitness He requires is to
feel our need of Him." The Life is all-sufficient for the needs of the
race. This Life can vitalize all that is withered and dead; it can make
decrepit wills muscular and mighty, and it can transfigure the leper with
the glow and purity of perfect health.

    "Thou of life the Fountain art,
       Freely let me take of Thee."



DECEMBER The Twenty-ninth

_THE LOVE OF GOD_

1 JOHN iv. 7-14.


Let me more assiduously think of God's love. Let me sit down to it. In the
National Gallery can be seen two sorts of people. There are the mere
vagrants, who are always "on the move," passing from picture to picture,
without seeing any. And there are the students, who sit down, and
contemplate, and meditate, and appropriate, and saturate. And there are
vagrants in respect to the love of the Lord. They have a passing glimpse,
but the impression is not vital and vitalizing, and there are the
students, who are always gazing, and who are continually crying, "O the
depth of the riches of the love of God in Christ!" "His riches are
unsearchable!"

And God's love is the creator of my love. "While I muse the fire burns." I
am kindled into the same holy passion. That is to say, contemplation
determines character. We acquire the hues of the things to which we cling.
To hold fellowship with love is to become loveful and lovely. "We love
because He first loved us."

And then, in the third place, it is through my love that I know my Lord.
"_Everyone that loveth knoweth God._" Love is the lens through which I
discern the secret things of God.



DECEMBER The Thirtieth

_THE BLESSEDNESS OF FORGIVENESS_

"_Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven._"
--PSALM xxxii.


It is the blessedness of emancipation. The boat which has been tethered to
the weird, baleful shore is set free, and sails toward the glories of the
morning. The man, long cramped in the dark, imprisoning pit, is brought
out, and stretches his limbs in the sweet light and air of God's free
world. Black servitude is ended; glorious liberty begins.

It is the blessedness of education. For when we are freed we are by no
means perfected. We are liberated babes; and our Emancipator does not
desert us in our spiritual infancy. The foundling is not abandoned.
"Having loved His own He loved them unto the end." He begins with us in
the spiritual nursery, and He will train and lead and feed us until we are
"perfect in Christ Jesus."

Therefore is it the blessedness of exultation. The babe is resting on the
bosom of the Lord, and "the joy of the Lord is his strength." It is not my
emancipation that ensures my joy; it is the abiding Presence of the
Emancipator.



DECEMBER The Thirty-first

_THE REAR-GUARD_

"_Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life._"
--PSALM xxiii.

But why "_follow_" me? Why not "go before"? Because some of my enemies are
in the rear; they attack me from behind. There are foes in my yesterdays
which can give me fatal wounds. They can stab me in the back! If I could
only get away from the past! Its guilt dogs my steps. Its sins are ever at
my heels. I have turned my face toward the Lord, but my yesterdays pursue
me like a relentless hound! So I have an enemy in the rear.

But, blessed be His name, my mighty God is in the rear as well as my foe.
"Goodness and mercy shall follow me!" No hound can break through that
defence. Between me and my guilt there is the infinite love of the Lord.
The loving Lord will not permit my past to destroy my soul. I may sorrow
for my past, but my very sorrow shall be a minister of moral and spiritual
health. My Lord is Lord of the past as well as of the morrow, and so
to-day "I will trust and not be afraid."

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     subject of Mr. Roberts' study. He is keenly alive to and frankly
     critical of the weaknesses, shortcomings and divisions of modern
     Christianity; but he has a well-grounded optimism and a buoyant
     faith which will be found contagious."--_Living Age._


     _JAMES W. LEE_

     The Religion of Science
     The Faith of Coming Man
         12mo, cloth, net $1.50.

     "Dr. Lee thinks scientifically. He delivers a clear-cut thought
     product and his powers of intellectual visualization are
     transferred to the reader. After having read 'The Religion of
     Science,' we can only underwrite the testimony of Dr. Birney, Dean
     of the Theological School of Boston University: 'It is the finest
     apologetic for the modern mood of thought concerning things
     Christian that I have seen. The book in a masterly manner reveals
     the pathway of triumphant faith.'"--_Christian Advocate._


     _MARSHALL P. TALLING, Ph. D._
     _Author of "Extempore Prayer" and "Inter-Communion with God"_

     The Science of Spiritual Life
     An Application of Scientific Method in the Exploration of Spiritual
     Experience.
         Cloth, net $1.50.

     This comprehensive handbook of theology is a mediatory work of real
     value, combining as it does the insight of a spiritually minded man
     with the keen perception of one who fully recognizes what science
     has done and is doing to-day.


     _JOHN DOUGLAS ADAM, D.D._

     Religion and the Growing Mind
         12mo, cloth, net 75c.

     This stimulating treatise on the development of a science of soul
     culture is intended primarily for young people. The expansion of
     the spiritual nature is shown to be the supreme thing in life. In
     clear, brief, logical, sane manner Dr. Adam describes man's
     psychical nature and methods of its development in terms of modern
     psychology.


     _W. H. P. FAUNCE, D.D._

     What Does Christianity Mean?
     The Cole Lectures for 1912.
         12mo, cloth, net $1.25.

     Dr. Faunce, President of Brown University, has chosen an unusually
     attractive theme which is discussed in this series of lectures on
     the following subjects:

     1. The Essence of the Christian Faith. 2. The Meaning of God. 3.
     The Basis of Character. 4. The principle of Fellowship. 5. The Aim
     of Education. 6. The Goal of Our Effort.



                        THEOLOGICAL DISCUSSION
     ==================================================================

     _ROBERT F. HORTON, D.D._

     How the Cross Saves
         16mo, cloth, net 50c.

     "Will bring help and light to minds perplexed and darkened by
     doubt. It is a clear statement of the central truth of
     Christianity. Logically and biblically Dr. Horton calls to mind the
     fact that the atonement is of God; that men need it; and that
     man-made atonements which minimize sin will not do. Then he
     discusses the atonement, the meaning and the victory of the
     cross."--_Advance._


     _JAMES A. ANDERSON, L.L.D._ _Editor of "the Western Methodist"_

     Religious Unrest and Its Remedy
         12mo, cloth, net 75c.

     A query raised by theological unrest and an attempt to indicate
     where rest is found.


     _Christian Faith and Doctrine Series_
         12mo, cloth, each net $1.00.


     _PRINCIPAL W. F. ADENEY, D.D._

     The Christian Conception of God

     A vitalizing, tonic treatise of a fundamental theme. The scholarly
     author of "The Theology of the New Testament" needs no
     introduction. He is a stalwart defender of the essential truths of
     Christianity. The _British Congregationalist_ says: "This
     remarkable book will have a place of its own side by side with
     Prof. Newton Clarke's more elaborate work."


     _J. MONRO GIBSON, D.D._

     The Inspiration and Authority of Holy Scriptures
     _With Introduction by Principal Forsythe_

     Principal Forsythe's Introduction gives the key to the book: "There
     is no more difficult position to-day than that of the minister who
     has to stand between the world of modern knowledge and the world of
     traditional religion and mediate between them." "Its facts have
     been verified in the writer's own experience, and they are set down
     in the precise order that they appear to be necessary in the life
     of a man who desires to live well and die well."--_Expository
     Times._


     _GEORGE HANSON, D.D._

     The Resurrection and the Life

     This thorough-going study of the Resurrection of Jesus is
     characterized by a vigorous intellectual grasp of the subject. The
     author presents a most assuring and comforting contribution to
     Christian apologetics. It is a work that will not only meet the
     demands of the scholarly and thoughtful, but minister to those who
     have no questionings.



                         GIFT BOOKS, ESSAYS, Etc.
     ==================================================================

     _W. J. DAWSON, D.D._

     The Book of Courage
         12mo, decorated cloth, net $1.25.

     To meet a present day demand. Everyone needs help to live the
     courageous life--to learn to face life as it is and yet continue to
     be in love with it. The Book of Courage meets the need of all who
     search for help. It is a mine of inspiration to courageous living.


     _NEWELL DWIGHT HILLIS, D.D._

     The Contagion of Character
     Studies in Culture and Success.
         Gilt top, net $1.20.

     _The Outlook_ says: "Brief, pungent studies, sparks struck out on
     the anvil of events. Sparkling indeed they are and likewise full of
     ethical wisdom and vigor. Essays for the times whose lessons are
     printed and clinched at every turn with personal experiences that
     grip attention."


     _PROF. HUGH BLACK, D.D._

     Happiness
         Decorated, 8vo, cloth, gilt top, net $1.50.

     This is the fourth in a quartette of gift books which began with
     FRIENDSHIP and naturally ends with HAPPINESS. Similar to FRIENDSHIP
     in its form it is distinct in matters of cloth, cover design, title
     page and decorative page borders. Altogether it is one of the
     season's most delightful gift books--the mechanical setting being
     worthy of the subject matter in every respect.


     _HERBERT G. STOCKWELL_

     Essential Elements of Business Character
         16mo, cloth, net 60c.

     The author has won an enviable reputation through his articles on
     "Business" in recent issues of _The Outlook_. The editors say that
     the readers of _The Outlook_ have expressed their appreciation in a
     very unusual way. Some of the largest corporations in the country
     have written asking for permission to reprint extracts in their
     "house organs."


     _FREDERICK A. ATKINS_

     Life Worth While
     A Volume of Inspiration for Young Men.
         Net 50c.

     This new volume of talks to young men by Mr. Atkins contains the
     same tonic qualities that made MORAL MUSCLE, FIRST BATTLES and
     ASPIRATION AND ACHIEVEMENT so truly helpful. The author is a man of
     magnetic and winning personality. His appeal is particularly to
     young men. The virile and persuasive tone will stimulate to greater
     endeavor and higher achievement.





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