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´╗┐Title: A Basket of Barley Loaves
Author: Miller, Mary Christina
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 "A Basket of Barley Loaves" ***

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 A BASKET
 OF
 BARLEY LOAVES.

 BY THE
 AUTHOR OF "THE HIGH MOUNTAIN APART" AND "SACRAMENTAL SABBATHS."

"There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves."--JOHN vi. 9.


 PHILADELPHIA:
 PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF PUBLICATION,
 No. 1334 CHESTNUT STREET.


 Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by
 THE TRUSTEES OF THE
 PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF PUBLICATION,
 In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


 WESTCOTT & THOMSON,
 _Stereotypers, Philada._



 TO
 MY FORMER PASTOR,
 REV. ALEXANDER DICKSON,

 WHO TAUGHT ME
 "THE WAY OF GOD MORE PERFECTLY,"
 AND WHOSE THOUGHTS AND VERY WORDS ENTER LARGELY INTO THESE PAGES,

 I DEDICATE THIS
 BASKET OF BARLEY LOAVES.



EDITOR'S PREFACE.


To those who crave more of Christ in the soul and in the daily life,
to those who long for holiness and assurance, this BASKET OF
BARLEY LOAVES will bring welcome refreshment and nourishment. The
devout, even though trembling, believer, who hungers after
righteousness, will here find that which will kindle his affections
and lead them to the only satisfying source of love and peace, Jesus
Christ. What of sweetness and strength there is in these meditations
is due to God's word, of which they are full. Sweeter than honey and
the honey-comb, more precious than silver or gold, was that word to
the Psalmist; and thence these chapters draw their flavor and force.
By them the weary, the needy, the longing, will be led nearer to
Christ and be more filled with the power of his love. May these few
Barley Loaves feed many thousands of hungry souls!

J. W. D.



CONTENTS.


                                                   PAGE
 I.
 JESUS SOUGHT AND FOUND                              11

 II.
 HIS NAME                                            24

 III.
 THE ASSURANCE                                       31

 IV.
 THE PERFECT WORK                                    41

 V.
 THE CHASTENING                                      52

 VI.
 THE COMPASSION                                      61

 VII.
 THE SYMPATHY                                        69

 VIII.
 THE LOVE                                            78

 IX.
 THE LIFE ABUNDANT                                   85

 X.
 THE FORGIVENESS                                     90

 XI.
 THE HELP                                            97

 XII.
 THE DELIVERANCE                                    102

 XIII.
 THE HEARER OF PRAYER                               107

 XIV.
 THE REWARD                                         112

 XV.
 THE SOUL'S PORTION                                 119

 XVI.
 THE CROSS                                          127

 XVII.
 THE PRESENCE                                       131

 XVIII.
 THE APPEARING                                      136

 XIX.
 THE CONCLUSION                                     143


[Illustration]

 A BASKET
 OF
 BARLEY LOAVES.



 I.
 _Jesus Sought and Found._


The crowd was thronging and jostling. Eager and wistful faces were
turned to One who stood in the midst. His countenance was mild and
compassionate; and as I gazed upon him, a deep desire filled my heart
to know and follow this Man of Sorrows. With swiftest steps I hurried
on and pressed into the crowd. The lowly, suffering woman was
satisfied to touch the hem of his garments, and it was enough. But I
was not content until I had grasped his hand. Yes, I put my hand in
his--my guilty hand that nailed him to the cross.

"Who touched me?" He turned, and we stood face to face. In answer to
his inquiry I whispered, "Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou
goest." A look of love glanced from his eye; nearer he drew me to his
side and whispered, "Beloved." Oh how it thrilled my heart! Excess of
joy choked my utterance, and I could only grasp his hand more firmly
and exclaim, "My Lord and my God!"

Tell me not now of loneliness and desolation. Jesus is mine, and so we
journey hand in hand; and as he whispers to me of love unchangeable, I
hide this sweet secret in my heart and answer, "I am thine."

"They tell me," we said to an aged man, "that you have no rock on
which to plant your feet." "No rock?" he said, calmly, with a
smile--"no rock? Well, my creed does differ from yours. Mine is love
to God and love to my fellow-men. I do not believe such a man as Jesus
Christ ever lived. The world has had many saviours. Mine is a
principle--a rightening principle. I have tried all beliefs, and here
I am content to rest."

But we have not so learned Christ.

Infidels may tell me such a man never lived; humanitarians may tell me
he was mere man and no God; careless worldlings may tell me there is
no beauty in him that I should desire him; but from the far-off region
of light, beyond the mist-clouds that encircle the earth, I hear a
voice, calm in its majesty and tender in its tones: "I am Alpha and
Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and
which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." "I am the light of the
world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have
the light of life." "I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel,
thy Saviour." "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no
Saviour." "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine
help." "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem
them from death." "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest."

Hearing this voice I draw nearer. "Have I been so long time with you,
and yet hast thou not known me? Thou hast both seen him, and he it is
that talketh with thee." "Lord, I believe." "I know thee who thou art,
the Holy One of God." With the eye of faith I have seen thee, and I
can testify that "thou art fairer than the children of men." With the
hand of faith I have grasped thine, O thou "Friend that stickest
closer than a brother." And thou hast talked with me. "Never man spake
like this man." I cannot utter half the words Jesus has spoken to my
soul; but this I say: Into his hands I commit my soul with all its
interests; "for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he
is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."

  "O Jesus, Friend unfailing,
    How dear thou art to me!
  And, cares or fears assailing,
    I find my strength in thee.

  "I love to own, Lord Jesus,
    Thy claims o'er me and mine;
  Bought with thy blood most precious,
    Whose can I be but _thine_?"

"As the late lamented Dudley Tyng was passing from the earthly
vineyard to his higher position in the heavenly," writes Boardman in
his book entitled "Him that Overcometh," "he said to his father, while
light fell upon him from the open gateway, 'Father, stand up for
Jesus.' Then, after advancing a little farther on into the fuller
effulgence, he spoke again, saying, 'Father, stand up in Jesus.' These
injunctions were reported by his father as they fell from the lips of
his son, and went abroad all over the land. The first one struck a
chord which vibrates still, and passed into a watchword for all
Christian enterprise and for all enterprising Christians, but the
second seemed to find no chord keyed up and ready to respond. It is to
be feared that this is indicative of the true state of the Christian
world to-day--_for_ Christ, more than _in_ him; and yet, if we may
believe the words of Christ himself, and the history of all the
progress of his kingdom, we have the secret of all power in these two
words, "in Jesus," with the converse of them, "Jesus in us."

"_Abide in me, and I in you._" Christ within is better even than
Christ beside us, as the apostles found after Pentecost. This is the
secret of all joy and the source of all strength.

To those who are just starting on the Christian pilgrimage we would
repeat these words of the Master, "Abide in me." Guide-books are good,
but a trusty guide is better. We might fill our pages with minute
directions concerning the way, but we would rather point to Christ,
who is the way. We remember that there are times when travelers forget
their guide-books and cling to their strong and sure-footed guides.

Consider our Guide. He knows every step of the way, and he will guide
us with his eye. Let us meditate upon Christ till our hearts are led
to desire more intimate fellowship with him. "My meditation of him
shall be sweet"--"sweet" when I remember his name, his character, his
work, his promises and the peace he gives.

But it may be that some to whom these pages are addressed find many
dark threads of doubt woven into their meditation of Christ. You have
never, perhaps, been fully assured of your acceptance with him; or, if
confident at the commencement of your Christian course, doubts and
fears may have gathered around your pathway before journeying very far
into the wilderness. The chilling winds of unbelief make winter in
your soul. The days are short and cold; the nights are long and
colder. Yes, even the day seems as the night--all darkness. Some
around you seem to be enjoying perpetual spring-time, because Christ
shines so constantly upon their happy souls, and your coldness and
darkness seem all the sadder in contrast with their warmth and
brightness.

How can you account for this? Ask some Christian friends, and they
will tell you that you must not expect so much joy--that the Christian
life is a constant conflict with doubt and sin, and you cannot expect
to be always as happy as perhaps you were at first. You turn away
sadly disappointed. They are older Christians, and you think they must
know better than you. What will you do? Will you sit under the clouds,
or struggle to get out into clear sunshine?

We cannot think that God intends you to have a limited measure of joy
and peace. Why should you not grow happier in your love to Christ as
you learn to know him better? Why should not the promises become more
precious as you prove them and find them all "yea and amen in Christ
Jesus?"

Let us inquire into the cause of your darkness. The Saviour does not
willingly withhold his smile which makes spring and summer in the
soul. When God made a covenant with you he gave you this promise: "I
will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." God has not then forsaken
you. Perhaps you have neglected the means of grace. Perhaps you are
cherishing some secret sin. Perhaps you have looked more to your own
frames and feelings than to Christ's perfect work. Your mind has dwelt
too much upon self. Take the advice of one who walked with God and was
not, because God took him: "For one look at self take ten looks to
Christ." The advice is good, and it has lifted many a Christian above
the clouds.

"Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth? I sought him, but I found him not."
Is this your sad lament?

Seek him again. Seek him earnestly, prayerfully, constantly. Seek him
in the place of secret prayer. Jesus had his secret place upon the
lonely mountain. Though he lived in constant communion with his
Father, though his every step was a hymn of praise and his every act
was a prayer, still he felt his need of a place where he could pour
out his soul in supplication. If secret prayer was necessary for the
Master, is it not more needful for you? If you have neglected that, it
is not strange if it is winter in your soul.

Seek Jesus also in his holy word. In the garden of the gospel you may
meet him and walk with him, holding sweet communion. Here he reveals
himself. Obey his own commandment, "Search the Scriptures." This is
the reason and this the reward, "for they are they that testify of
me." They testify of Christ. Yes, they are full of Christ. Rays from
his cross shine through both the Testaments. Prophets and saints of
old looked forward and rejoiced--"not having received the promises,"
it is true, "but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them
and embraced them." Fuller, clearer light now shines on Calvary. Draw
near and read again the sacred story. Yes, "search the Scriptures,"
for here you will surely find Jesus. His love prompted every promise,
and is the pledge and fulfillment of every promise.

Seek him in the place of social prayer. Thomas was not at the
prayer-meeting when Jesus manifested himself to his disciples. How
much he lost by staying away! When Jesus draws near and says, "Peace
be unto you!" then let me be within hearing of his gentle voice. Let
me be near when he says, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." "_Only_ a
prayer-meeting," do you say? _Only_ a visit from Jesus, the Giver of
peace! Who would miss a visit of so much profit--a visit of so much
pleasure!

Seek Jesus at the sacramental supper. Jesus is there. There you may
enjoy his longest, sweetest visits. There he speaks peace to his
people. Sweet it is to meet Jesus in the closet; sweet visits there he
pays his beloved and betrothed. Sweet it is to meet him in the holy
Scriptures; sweet to find him in the place of social prayer. But
sweeter far are his visits at the communion-table. To sit like Mary at
his feet, to lie like John upon his bosom--was ever joy like this? was
ever Jesus nearer? No longer do we say, "Saw ye Him whom my soul
loveth?" We have found him! we have found him! "His left hand is under
my head, while his right doth embrace me." I charge you, my unstable
heart, that you forsake not, nor grieve again "Him whom my soul
loveth."

Now that you have found him, cleave to him. "Abide in me," the Master
says. In union with Christ the Christian finds his safety, strength
and happiness. And the closer this union, the greater is the security,
strength and happiness of the Christian. Would we be guided by his
eye? Then must we be continually "looking unto Jesus." Do we need
strength? "In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." Are we
seeking happiness? "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his
help, whose hope is in the Lord his God."

Cling closer, young Christian, cling closer to Christ. Learn to walk
with him daily in sweet communion. Be not satisfied with an occasional
visit from your Lord, but beseech him to abide with you. He is willing
to come and abide with you. "If any man love me, he will keep my
words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and
make our abode with him."


[Illustration]



 II.
 _His Name._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I remember his name_.

We need not say, as did Jacob, "Tell me, I pray thee, thy name." We
know thy name, _Jehovah Tsidkenu_, "The Lord our Righteousness." We
are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy
rags, and all the soap and nitre in the world cannot make us pure and
holy. "If I wash myself with snow-water, and make my hands never so
clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes
shall abhor me." But in the covenant of the cross we come and change
clothes with Christ. He takes our filthy rags and gives us his own
spotless robe; and we are "accepted in the Beloved," not having our
"own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the
faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."

We know thy name, _Jehovah Shalom_, The Lord of Peace. Sweet peace
speedily follows as one of the results of justification. "And the work
of righteousness shall be peace, and the effects of righteousness
quietness and assurance for ever." Or, as the apostle expresses it in
the Epistle to the Romans, "Therefore, being justified by faith, we
have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Peace was one of
the notes in the song which angels sung when He was born who himself
"is our peace." And when he was parting from his disciples "peace" was
among the last words that fell from his lips: "Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give unto you." "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose
mind is stayed on thee." "Perfect peace," being interpreted, means,
"Peace, peace." So that we shall have a double portion, "good measure,
pressed down and shaken together and running over."

We know thy name, _Jehovah Nissi_, The Lord my Banner. "Thou hast
given a banner to them that fear thee." He his own self is our
standard and our standard-bearer, and we need not fear that our flag
shall ever be taken, or that those who fight under it shall be beaten.
Though we are but weak worms of the dust, and are called to contend
"against principalities, against powers, against spiritual wickedness
in high places," there is nothing more sure than that we shall win the
day. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Looking at the end
from the beginning, and confident of victory, we can say, when
buckling on the harness before the battle is begun, "We are more than
conquerors through Him that loved us."

We know thy name, _Jehovah Rophi_, The Lord my Healer. When he began
his holy ministry here on earth, "Jesus went about all Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom,
and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among
the people." Some came to him groping in their blindness, others came
on crutches, and many were carried to him on their beds; and he healed
them all. Though he came from heaven mainly to heal diseases of the
mind, yet while he labored here in the flesh he healed more diseases
of the body. He is still the only Physician of the soul, and by far
the best Physician of the body. "He knoweth our frame," this our
mortal body, better than the wisest men, for he made it, and without
his blessing the best prescription will do us no good. He is our
Physician. When we are taken sick he is first called to our bedside.
By prayer we lay hold of something at the mercy-seat that rings a bell
in heaven, and he makes haste and comes down and "healeth all our
diseases."

We know thy name, _Jehovah Jireh_, The Lord will Provide. He provided
a lamb upon Mount Moriah for Abraham in his greatest emergency. He has
also provided a Lamb for us--a Lamb without spot or blemish, "the Lamb
slain from the foundation of the world." "Even Christ our Passover is
sacrificed for us." On his guiltless head our guilt was laid. And
having provided a Lamb for us, he will provide anything else. "My God
shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ
Jesus." As the greater includes the less, so the unspeakable gift
embosoms all minor blessings. "He that spared not his own Son, but
delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us
all things?"

We know thy name, _Jehovah Shammah_, The Lord is there. Wherever we
may be called to go, the Lord is there. What strong consolation, what
good cheer there is in this blessed truth,

  "Awake, asleep, at home, abroad,
  I am surrounded still with God!"

In every duty, in every difficulty, the Lord is there. In the lion's
den and in the fiery furnace, the Lord is there. In sickness and in
health, in sorrow and in joy, the Lord is there. When our pilgrimage
is almost over, and we are going down into the dark valley, blessed be
his name, we shall find that the Lord is there. "Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for
thou art with me."

Beyond the valley there is a place about which we know very little;
but we know that there is a house of many mansions, and we know that
the Lord is there. "I go to prepare a place for you." There is a holy
city along whose golden streets these feet shall one day walk; "And
the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there."

"Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." He
is everything to us. Are we sinners? He is our Righteousness. Are we
in trouble? He is our Peace. Are we soldiers? He is our Banner. Are we
sick? He is our Healer. Are we in want of anything? He will provide.
Are we going into eternity? He is there, waiting to receive us up into
glory. "Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name
together."

"My meditation of him shall be sweet" when I remember his name, for
"they that know thy name shall put their trust in thee."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



 III.
 _The Assurance._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I remember the assurance
he has given me_.

To his dear children God is pleased to give earnests or pledges of the
future bliss. We cannot think that any of the heirs of glory are
wholly deprived of foretastes of heaven. Some indeed walk in the
mist-clouds of doubt for a great part of their lives. Only at
intervals the clouds part and reveal a ray of heavenly sunshine. They
live amid clouds--it may be they die amid clouds--and never know clear
shining until they reach the land of perpetual sunshine.

Others there are who pitch their tents upon "the high hill Clear."
They live in the land Beulah, where the sun is ever shining and the
birds are ever singing, where Giant Despair never comes and where
Doubting Castle is not so much as seen. They live in the sunshine,
they die in the sunshine--no, they do not die; they pass away, onward
and upward, into clearer light and brighter sunshine. Light is sown
for them on earth by Him who is the light of the world, and the
harvest in eternity is abundant and glorious. The first-fruits here,
though nothing compared with the after-fruits, are beautiful and
greatly to be desired. Why may they not be enjoyed by all?

We hardly think it is God's will that his children should have a
limited measure of peace and joy. Neither can we think it humility to
doubt the words of our Lord Jesus: "I give unto them eternal life; and
they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand."

"Yes," we hear you saying, "this is comforting for Christians, but am
I a Christian? The clouds of unbelief often envelop me and exclude all
heavenly light. 'Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit the land?'
Who will assure me of my interest in Christ?"

"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." Can
you remain ignorant of so great a change wrought within by the Spirit?
Are there not many signs to prove to you that you are in Christ? Do
you not believe and know that a change has passed over all your
feelings and affections? Do you not love the things you once hated and
hate the things you once loved? Do you not love all who bear the
Saviour's image? Is not sin odious to you? Do you not find some
pleasure in drawing near to God in prayer? Is not the thought of
continuing in sin painful to you? Would you willingly grieve your
Saviour?

We would not say, "Peace! peace!" when there is no peace. We would
have you look well to the foundations of your hope. Examine it
closely. Let the light of the Word fall full and clear upon it. Look
at it on every side, and rest not till you know that it is founded
simply and solely upon the merits of the Redeemer. If you are sure
Christ's work is really begun in your soul, you need have no doubt
about its being continued and finally completed. The Master counts
well the cost when he begins his work in the sinner's soul, and none
shall ever mock his work, saying, "This man began to build and was not
able to finish."

Having ascertained this all-important fact, you may be "always
confident" till you enter his presence "with exceeding joy." You need
not fear that you shall fall away. "Rejoice not against me, O mine
enemy: when I fall, I shall arise." You shall be "kept by the power of
God through faith unto salvation." You need never fear that Christ
will weary of his work, but you may be "confident of this very thing,
that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the
day of Jesus Christ," and you shall stand "without fault before the
throne."

We know some humble and sincere disciples will shrink back, saying,
"We are not able," when we beg them to make Paul's language all their
own. With their hands upon their mouths and their mouths in the dust,
they dare not look up with perfect confidence; they think it almost
presumption, or at least they say, despondingly, "It is not for me."
"Paul," they say, "was an uncommon Christian--he attained a tall
stature in holiness." So he did; and why? Because his was no half-way
service; he gave no divided heart to his master. That was the reason
why he so well understood the doctrine of full assurance. "If any man
will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." Do you understand
these words of the Master? He does not say, "If any man fully keeps
the law, which is the perfect will of the Father, he shall know of the
doctrine," for it is not possible for any mere man perfectly to keep
the commandments of God. Nor does he say, "If any man _does_ the
will," but, "If any man _will_"--is willing to do his will. If he
shows a willing heart and mind, God will enlighten him more and more.
And what is implied in this willing heart and mind but full
consecration?

When shall we learn the secret of a happy life? "Ye cannot serve two
masters." Those who give themselves up to Satan's service may lead an
unhappy life, but greater must be the unhappiness of those who are
trying to make a compromise between God and Satan. They can enjoy
neither service; they are of all men most miserable.

O ye who have professed the name of Christ, come away from all
inferior pleasures! Pleasures? They are not worthy of the name. One
hour with Christ is worth them all. Will you then suffer them to hide
the Saviour from your view?

Once we were happy all the day long, having given ourselves to Christ
in the covenant of the cross. Christ was the source of our life, the
fullness of our joy, all our salvation and all our desire. Having
enjoyed his precious presence, we dreamed not that we could ever
wander; we thought our hearts would cleave to him for evermore. We had
no doubts in those days. "My Beloved is mine, and I am his," was the
constant language of our heart. But, alas! the world again entered our
heart, dividing it and leaving but half for God. Then came the clouds
gathering thick and fast, till our Saviour was hidden from our view.
Upon the ear of the watchman who went about the streets soon fell our
mournful cry, "Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?" We sought him, but we
found him not. Our gloom and grief increased. Oh for one hour of
Jesus' presence! "Let all other joys forsake this heart," we cried,
"if only we may again enjoy Jesus' presence." Feeling thus, we thrust
the joys (falsely so called) of earth away, and kneeling at the
mercy-seat, we renewed our covenant with Jesus. True, there was no joy
in our hearts; we saw not yet his smile. But we could trust him where
we could not trace him; so we confessed to him all our wanderings. We
told him how we had thought to serve him with half our hearts, but now
we would give him all. The first steps were taken in darkness, but God
soon revealed his smiling face.

If this assurance is attainable by one, why not by all? If at one time
it may be enjoyed, why not at all times? We have "for a foundation a
stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation,"
laid in Zion by the great Master-Builder.

Foundation-stones are chosen with great care and laid with care, for
upon them the whole building depends. Look at this foundation-stone.
Tell me, is it not perfect, sure and tried? This is the stone that the
builders rejected: they perished, but it remaineth, and upon it the
Lord hath built his Church. Believers in all ages and climes have
built all their hopes of heaven upon it. Is it not a tried stone?
Satan tried it and found no flaw; Pilate tried it and found no fault;
the Father tried it and pronounced it good; and we have tried it and
proved it so. What a sure foundation it is, with Christ for the
corner-stone, the next stone faith, then repentance, hope, submission
and all the graces! "Master, see what manner of stones are here." Are
they not goodly stones? and will they not make a beautiful temple?

Upon Christ, the precious corner-stone, let us build our hopes of
heaven, and dismiss all fears for the future.

My hope, my joy, my salvation, my desire, my righteousness, my
strength, my all--Christ in me "the hope of glory." "Lord, who shall
abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" I have not
clean hands, nor a pure heart. Behold, I am vile. Nevertheless, I
shall abide in thy tabernacle; I shall dwell in thy holy hill. Why?
Because Christ is mine. His hands are spotless, his heart is pure, his
righteousness is perfect. All his is mine, for he is mine. I build my
hopes upon the Rock Christ Jesus. These hopes shall never be
overthrown; I have no fear of it.

_When_ the head stone shall be placed I cannot tell, but I wait and
work with joy, hoping unto the end. Sometimes weariness almost
overcomes me, for building is hard work. Foes within and foes without
make the labor exceedingly hard. But whether in joy or grief, the
building goes on, and from the completed structure shouts shall ascend
to the great Master-Builder: "Grace, grace unto it!" "Glory be to the
Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost! Amen."


[Illustration]



 IV.
 _The Perfect Work._

"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider his perfect
work_.

What consternation must have been felt among the ranks of holy spirits
when sin entered into the world, "and death by sin!" Could grief
intrude into heaven, we should imagine _that_ an hour of deepest
anguish when the Father, looking down upon the fallen race, exclaimed,
"How shall I pardon thee for this?" "How shall I put thee among the
children?" How could the just and holy God justify the sinner? Not one
of all the heavenly host could solve the problem. "How shall I give
thee up?" burst from the heart of the loving Father. The beloved Son
exclaims: "Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a
ransom." "Who will seek and save these wanderers?" says the Father.
"Father, send me," the Son replies; "I will seek them, and save them,
and bring them home. I will bear the wrath due to them for sin; I will
die for them." The Father accepts the Substitute; the Son lays aside
his glory and girds himself for the mighty conflict. He looks along
the line of weary years, and though he sees nothing but suffering,
reproach and death, his holy purpose remains unshaken. The lost sheep
of the house of Israel must be saved, and none but Jesus could save
them.

"So he was their Saviour."

His work of _justification_ is perfect. Look at it for a moment. What
is justification? "Justification is an act of God's free grace,
wherein he pardoneth _all_ our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in
his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and
received by faith alone."

Can there be anything more simple and beautiful and perfect than this?
It is free to all; it is sufficient for all: "Whosoever will;" "And I
will pardon _all_ their iniquities." It is the work of a moment, but
it abideth for ever. One look of faith, and life, eternal life, is
yours.

  "The moment a sinner believes
    And trusts in his crucified Lord,
  His pardon at once he receives,
    Redemption in full through his blood."

His work of _adoption_ is perfect. Like justification, it is done in a
moment, and it abideth for ever. "Adoption is an act of God's free
grace, whereby we are received into the number and have a right to all
the privileges of the sons of God."

The Romans had a twofold form of adoption. The first was a private
transaction between the parties, receiving the person adopted into the
family; the second was the public recognition in the forum.

The moment we are justified we are adopted. This is the private
transaction. Hearing a voice from heaven saying, "Thy sins are
forgiven thee; go in peace," we look up through our tears, and with
rejoicing lips we cry, "Father!" "_Now_ are we sons of God," placed
among the children, because Jesus solved the mighty problem, showing
how God can be just and yet justify the sinner. The public recognition
will come very soon. When we reach the pearly gates, Jesus, our Elder
Brother, will be waiting to receive and acknowledge us as his own.
Standing before his Father and ours, he will stretch forth his hand
toward his disciples and say, "Behold my mother and my brethren!"

His work of _sanctification_ is perfect. It is not, like justification
and adoption, an act done in a moment. It is a work slow and at times
painful, yet sure and perfect. It begins when we are justified, it
ends when we are glorified. "Sanctification is the _work_ of God's
free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of
God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin and live unto
righteousness." It is often a painful work. "The flesh, with the
affections and lusts," must be crucified. We must "die unto sin." The
sound of the hammer and axe and iron tools is not heard by those who
are without, yet every blow causes the heart to quiver, and the
cutting is very painful. Nevertheless, who would not be "a carved
stone" in the temple of our God?

We praise thee for this work, O God. We rejoice to know that thou wilt
not weary of it, but wilt carry it on "until the day of Jesus Christ."
We shall be perfect in that day. No imperfection shall remain in
us--no sinful desire, no unholy thought. Jesus will say unto us, "Thou
art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee," and he will present
us "faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."

His work of _redemption_ is perfect. Christ, our Prophet, instructs
us, "revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our
salvation." Christ, our Priest, offers up himself "a sacrifice to
satisfy divine justice and reconcile us to God." He also "maketh
continual intercession for us." Christ, our King, subdues "us to
himself;" he rules and defends us, and restrains and conquers "all his
and our enemies." Is he not a perfect Redeemer? He redeems our souls
from death, our bodies also from the grave. "My flesh also shall rest
in hope," always confident of a glorious resurrection. "For I know
that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day
upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet
in my flesh shall I see God." "I will ransom them from the power of
the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be thy
plague! O Grave, I will be thy destruction!"

Though some may cavil at this mystery and say sneeringly, "How are the
dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" yet we trust in the
word of our God, and "_we know_ that if our earthly house of this
tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not
made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Christ, "the first-fruits of
them that slept," is risen; then how say some among you that there is
no resurrection of the dead? "Christ is risen!" Oh glorious truth,
first proclaimed to the women who came weeping to his sepulchre! "Fear
ye not," the angel answered, "for I know that ye seek Jesus which was
crucified. He is not here; for he is risen, as he said." Christ is
risen! Then we which are Christ's shall rise also. "Because I live ye
shall live also." "Behold, I show you a mystery:" "the dead shall be
raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible
must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

O Lord, our Redeemer, Prophet, Priest and King, we praise thee for thy
perfect work!

Yes, "my meditation of him shall be sweet" when I consider his perfect
work. My Master too regards it with satisfaction; he sees of the
travail of his soul, and is satisfied. His life on earth was
sorrowful, but his triumph was complete. "Having spoiled
principalities and powers," God's enemies and ours, "he made a show of
them openly, triumphing over them in it," or in _himself_, as it may
be rendered. As a victor returning from the fight, he ascended to the
glory which he had with the Father "before the world was;" and the
song of the glorified filled the high heavens with richer harmony as
the Well-Beloved of the Father proved by the nail-prints that he had
finished the work which was given him to do.

Coming ages will testify to his triumph and to the completeness of his
work. On earth it was for the most part viewed not only with
indifference, but even with unbelief and scorn. "He came unto his own,
and his own received him not." "For a good work we stone thee not; but
for blasphemy, and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself
God." "He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the
chosen of God." "If thou be Christ, save thyself and us." "If he be
the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will
believe him." But now a mighty multitude swell the song, "Worthy is
the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and
strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which
is in heaven, and on the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all
that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and
power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb,
for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and
twenty elders fell down and worshiped Him that liveth for ever and
ever."

  "Ten thousand times ten thousand sung
    Loud anthems round the throne,
  When lo! one solitary tongue
    Began a song unknown--
  A song unknown to angel ears--
  A song that told of banished fears,
  Of pardoned sins and dried up tears.

  "Not one of all the heavenly host
    Could these high notes attain,
  But spirits from a distant coast
    United in the strain;
  Till he who first began the song,
  To sing alone not suffered long,
  Was mingled with a countless throng.

  "And still, as hours are fleeting by,
    The angels ever bear
  Some newly-ransomed soul on high
    To join the chorus there:
  And so the song will louder grow,
  Till all redeemed by Christ below
  To that fair world of rapture go.

  "Oh give me, Lord, my golden harp,
    And tune my broken voice,
  That I may sing of troubles sharp
    Exchanged for endless joys:
  The song that ne'er was heard before--
  A sinner reached the heavenly shore--
  But now shall sound for evermore."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



 V.
 _The Chastening._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider his
chastenings_, for "blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord."

Of all the beatitudes this may appear to be the strangest. To the
young disciple chastisements may seem anything but happiness; you see
in them no beauty that you should desire them. If you have never been
taught in the school of affliction, you cannot understand this;
neither can you understand it if you have not learned well what you
were there taught. Perhaps you have been greatly afflicted, and yet
you can see no good fruits of it in your soul. Every disappointment
has only increased bitter feelings in your heart. You are conscious of
this. You are ready to say, "Where are the blessed effects of sorrow?"
The Master comes "seeking fruit," and findeth none. Why is this? We
reply, that sorrow in itself has no sanctifying power. Many are
hardened by it, and rendered more unlovely and unholy. But the plane
in the hand of the carpenter's Son cannot fail to make you better, and
if you are not profited by it, it is because you do not rightly
receive your sorrows.

While you were a stranger to the love of Christ you had no special
consolation to sustain you in the time of trial. The consolations of
God, which are neither few nor small, you had no right to appropriate.
With every stroke of the rod you seemed to hear a terrible voice
saying, "I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins." But
now that you are reconciled to God, all is changed; you hear another
voice saying, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten."

Henceforth, therefore, you may accept trials as love-tokens, for "whom
the Lord loveth he chasteneth."

Perhaps, like Jonah, you have been sitting with great delight under
the shadow of your gourd. To give you joy and comfort in the desert,
God caused it to spring up. You felt glad and even thankful because of
its pleasant shade, and while you rested under its shadow songs of
praise ascended to the Giver. Yet "God prepared a worm." You woke one
morning to find your beautiful gourd all withered. Never did the
desert seem more dreary. You fainted under God's smiting, and with
aching and rebellious heart you prayed for death. There seemed to be
nothing for which to live, and you said, "It is better for me to die
than to live."

"Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?"

There are times when God shows his mercy to us by turning a deaf ear
to our foolish prayer. No, I should not say he turneth a deaf ear to
our prayer. He does hear, and he does answer, but not according to our
asking. You asked death; he sent grace to live. "It is better for me
to die," you said. God, by sparing your life, said most plainly, "It
is better for you to live." God knows best.

If you are still mourning over your smitten gourd, permit us to give
you some reasons why you should no longer mourn, or, at least, why you
should not murmur.

Remember, the gourd was undeserved. You had done nothing to merit such
a blessing. Perhaps even when it came it found you, like Jonah,
indulging in bitter, reproachful thoughts. Wayward and wandering were
you; loving and tender was God. Earthly parents bestow most tenderness
and anxious thought upon the erring child. The Good Shepherd leaves
the ninety and nine to search for the straying one. These things but
faintly illustrate the dealings of God with his children.

Perhaps you were in the path of duty, and were not unthankful while
you rested under the gourd. Still, you know that you deserve not the
least of all God's mercies. Your sufferings are less than your sins
deserve. "He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us
according to our iniquities." "Wherefore doth a living man complain?"
Let then this thought silence your complaints.

Remember also that the hand that smote the gourd was the hand of your
Father, your loving Father. And this thought surely will give you
comfort in your sorrow, and will even cause you by and by to sing
aloud for joy. Knowing full well that "he doth not afflict willingly,"
you seek to know why he thus dealt with you. It ought to be enough for
you to know that "_God_ prepared a worm." "What I do thou knowest not
now, but thou shalt know hereafter," should make us dumb before him,
but so great is his condescension toward them that love him that he
even tells them _why_ the smiting was necessary. Your heart was fully
set upon the gourd, and you were

  "Making a heaven down under the sun."

It may be that there was very little of the pilgrim spirit in your
heart. The heart-tendrils were firmly fastened around the gourd; its
uprooting seemed to rend you in twain. Bitter and severe was the pain,
but the hand that dealt the blow is ready to bind up the bleeding
wound, and in after days you will love to look upon this scar, for you
will cherish it as a sweet reminder of God's faithfulness and
mercy--not only as a monument, but also as a warning, for whenever you
look upon it, it will say to you, "Little children, keep yourselves
from idols."

Have you ever noticed the old grave stones in some English
burial-garden? The damp climate, which so soon obliterates the
letters, has a kindly way of dealing with the horizontal stones. Into
the deep grooves of the lettering little seeds are carried by the
wind, and, lodging there, the dampness soon causes them to germinate,
and in place of the blackness of decay spring up the characters in
living green.

Into the deep scars caused by God's sharp instruments the precious
seeds of divine consolation shall be wafted. Watered by your tears,
they shall soon spring up, and in your sweet submission others will
read your testimony to God's faithfulness: "I know, O Lord, that thy
judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me."

When God uproots the gourd he gives us something better, and "our
light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

If Paul could call his calamities "light," surely we may; for what are
our trials when compared with his? Behold what a crushing load he
carried! "In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in
prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received
I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I
stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in
the deep, in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of
robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen,
in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the
sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in
watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
nakedness." Oh what a life! How could he call all these afflictions
light? Placed in the balance with the exceeding weight of glory, they
seemed as naught. The afflictions were but for a moment; the glory was
eternal.

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth
him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is
broken. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous
shall be desolate. The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants; and
none of them that trust in him shall be desolate."

Then "wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen
thy heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." And let your meditation be sweet
when you consider Him who smites the gourd in order that he may lead
you to the shadow of the great Rock.

"When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than
I."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



 VI.
 _The Compassion._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I remember his compassion_
for the multitude.

It was a beautiful thought to compile a record of loving and heroic
deeds, of all lands and ages, and to entitle it, "A Book of Golden
Deeds." Florence Nightingale, whose picture adorns the opening page,
stands forth a fit exponent of the spirit of love that prompted these
recorded acts.

The record of Christ's life may truly be called "A Book of Golden
Deeds;" and that blessed name, which is above every name, becomes the
symbol of "whatsoever things are lovely and of good report." The works
which mark his earthly career are wonderful beyond compare, and the
crowning act of this life of perfect self-abnegation is the greatest
mystery of love.

It was noble in Dick Williamzoon, the Netherland martyr, when safely
over the frozen mere, to turn back, at the peril of his life, and
rescue his pursuer, whom he saw about to perish in the waters. He
saved his enemy, and was himself captured and burned at the stake--a
martyr for mercy as well as for truth. It was nobler still in the
Moravian missionary to enter the hospital in order to preach Christ to
the lepers. "If you go in, you can never be allowed to come out." "I
accept," he said, and entered, to go out no more. But the compassion
of Jesus towers far above the devotion of mortals, and expresses
itself in a manner which excites wonder in heaven and upon earth.
Looking down from his heavenly throne, his heart was deeply affected
by the ruin of our race. One blow of the arch-destroyer had marred
God's fair creation--man. Could no hand restore what in one dark hour
had been lost? O mighty Restorer! we wonder and adore.

  "He left his lofty throne,
    And threw his robes aside;
  On wings of love came down,
    And wept and bled and died."

Yes, girding himself with full strength, he descended to the work his
loving heart devised. Humbling himself to bear our sins, he became our
Saviour. Not satisfied with simply bearing the sins of his people, he
also carried their sorrows, and so becomes their Sympathizer. "Surely
he has borne our griefs" as well as our guilt. He became "a Man of
Sorrows" in order that from henceforth and for ever his followers
might have not exemption from all sorrow, but a Saviour who would be
able to sustain them fully in their afflictions, even lifting them so
far above their sorrows that at midnight and in prison they might sing
praises.

Gazing along the line of centuries, the omniscient Jesus saw a mighty
multitude of bowed and suffering ones--in sickness, in pains, in
poverty and chains; inheritors of "cruel mockings and scourgings, yea,
moreover, of bonds and imprisonment;" those whose portion should be to
be stoned, "sawn asunder," tempted, "slain with the sword;" who should
wander about "in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute,
afflicted, tormented." Seeing these, is it any wonder if his heart
melted with tenderness? In the simple story of his life we read: "And
Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude, and was moved with
compassion toward them, and he healed their sick." "In all their
affliction he was afflicted." Blessed be our High Priest who is still
"touched with the feeling of our infirmities!"

When his life on earth ended and he returned to the glory which he had
with the Father before the world was, he left us an example that we
should walk in his steps. To his disciples belongs the honor of taking
up and carrying forward the work of ministration. Partakers of
Christ's love and sympathy "look not every man on his own things, but
every man also on the things of others. Let the same mind be in you
which was also in Christ Jesus," who "took upon him the form of a
servant." "He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk
even as he walked."

How did he walk? Study well the memorial of "golden deeds." Compare
your life with his. How can you bear the test?

Nothing can be more beautiful than a life of self-abnegation. One
single act of devotion to another's good is like a ray of golden
sunshine in a darkened room, and a life of such deeds may well be
called a golden life. Into the cabin of one of our government
transports was borne a poor wounded soldier, who, with many others,
was going home to die. He had just been laid in the middle berth--by
far the most comfortable of the three tiers of berths in the ship's
cabin--and was still thrilling with the pain of being carried from the
field, when he saw a comrade in even greater suffering than himself
about to be lifted to the berth above him, and, thinking of the pain
it would cost him to be raised so high, he exclaimed, "Put me up
there; I reckon I'll bear hoisting better than he will."

Where can we find sufficient inspiration for a life of devotion to
others? "Act as if the eyes of Cato were always upon you," was urged
upon the Roman youth to stimulate him to virtuous deeds. Act as if the
eyes of Jesus were upon you, we urge, for surely he bends from his
throne to watch you as you endeavor to tread the path your Saviour
trod.

To some of us God has given leisure from arduous toil, wealth, talents
and many opportunities for usefulness. Perhaps to all these gifts he
has added strong faith and bright hopes of heaven. What, then, are our
duties to the poor and ignorant, the weary and feeble ones?
"Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to
them that are of a feeble heart, Be strong; fear not." Remember, and
forget it not, ye favored ones, that "unto whomsoever much is given,
of him shall much be required." Let nothing be hoarded. "Withhold not
good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine
hand to do it." Nature's and the Gospels' doctrine is, "Be ready to
distribute, willing to communicate." Looking up at the twelve silver
statues in Yorkminster cathedral, Oliver Cromwell asked, "Who are
those expensive fellows up there?" He was told that they were the
apostles of Christ. "Ah? let them be taken down and melted up," said
the old Puritan; "then they, like their Master, will go about doing
good."

It is said that in China the rich buy up and distribute clothing to
the poor, and in times of scarcity of food, through the kindness of
the rich, rice is sold to the poor at a third or fourth less than the
market price. This is done to win the favor of the gods. While we do
not hope to purchase God's favor by anything that we can do, yet we
may remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, "Whosoever
shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water
only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, He shall in
nowise lose his reward." "And they that be wise shall shine in the
brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness,
as the stars for ever and ever."

Let us daily strive to imitate our Master in compassion for others;
then shall our meditation prove profitable as well as pleasant.


[Illustration]



 VII.
 _The Sympathy._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I remember his sympathy_
with his chosen ones.

To have a friend who is ready to rejoice with us when we rejoice, and
to weep with us when we weep, how delightful it is! It doubles our
every joy and divides our every sorrow. Though some hearts seem to
scorn this tender plant of heavenly origin, we believe that none are
wholly insensible to the magic power of sympathy. Those who scorn it
most are often led to crave it most when the days of bitter grief draw
near. We call it a plant of heavenly origin, and so it is; for though
it is often found in unrenewed hearts, yet it attains its fairest
perfection in hearts regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Planted by the
hand of God and watered by heavenly dews, it reaches its greatest
height, and wins the admiration of many who fail to understand the
secret source of its life.

But human sympathy, even the deepest and tenderest, often fails us in
the hour of our greatest need. Who will say that Peter and the two
sons of Zebedee were not friends of the Lord Jesus? Certainly they
loved him, for they followed him whithersoever he went. Feeling his
need of human sympathy--for he was the man Christ Jesus--he took them
with him to Gethsemane. All he asked was that they should watch with
him. "Tarry ye here, and watch with me." Did they watch? You know the
record well. "And he cometh unto the disciples and findeth them
asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one
hour?" When brought to our Gethsemane, is not our experience something
like our Master's? Where we looked for sympathy we find indifference;
we are there alone. Perhaps our sorrow may be of such a nature that we
cannot reveal it even to our best-beloved. Our secret grief lies like
ice upon our hearts, sending its chilling influences through every
member. The hands hang down listlessly and the feeble knees smite
together; the aching of the head is only exceeded by the aching of the
heart. Yet no one knows the agony that paralyzes our life. Or, sadder
still, the heart-friend may be snatched away, and while our hearts are
breaking by reason of bereavement, we may have no one left to whom we
may turn for comfort in our affliction.

Is there no friend whose sympathy is deep, ever abiding and ever
accessible? Thank God, there is One. His name is Jesus. In all our
afflictions he is afflicted. He suffered that he might sympathize.
Coming to a race concerning whom it was written "few are their days
and full of trouble," "it behooved him to be made like unto his
brethren," therefore he accepted the inheritance of suffering, and
became "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." "Himself took
our infirmities."

Is poverty your portion? Is it no uncommon thing for you to suffer
hunger, cold and weariness? Do friends forsake and foes oppress you?
Go and tell Jesus. Though no longer suffering the sorrows of earth, he
remembers them well. Think you that _he_ has forgotten those
wilderness seasons when he suffered hunger; or those times of weary
watching on the mountains; or that dark night when "all the disciples
forsook him and fled;" or that sad hour when his Father forsook him?
Though gone to God's right hand he is the same Jesus still. His heart
is full of love and pity. "He knoweth our frame," for he has put on
our humanity. He put on our humanity; he has never put it off. "Behold
the Man!" "And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, and of
the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it
had been slain." "And I heard the voice of many angels round about the
throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the number of them was ten
thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a
loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and
riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."

And is he absorbed by this homage? I tell thee nay.

Let us recall that parting scene at Olivet. His days of suffering are
now ended, and he is about to return to the glory which he had with
the Father before the world was. A few words of parting, and then a
cloud separates him from his sorrowing disciples. A cloud, the record
tells us. So it appeared to them; to us it seems rather a company of
shining ones--a heavenly convoy sent to attend King Jesus back to his
heavenly throne. In the midst of the homage of this heavenly host he
does not forget his sorrowful disciples, but arrests the glad song for
a moment that he may send words of comfort down to them. "And while
they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men
stood by them in white apparel, which also said, Ye men of Galilee,
why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up
from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him
go into heaven."

_This same Jesus_ is not now absorbed by the homage of that "great
multitude which no man could number." Surrounded by those "which came
out of great tribulation," can he for a moment forget those who are
going through great tribulation? He does not forget them. The hand
that was nailed to the cross is still swift to obey the impulses of
that great heart of love, and hastens to wipe away the tear that
gathers in the mourner's eye, to bind up the broken heart and to
smooth the pillow of the dying.

We cannot read the record of Christ's earthly life without perceiving
that his sympathy with suffering was deep and constant. Failing to
comprehend this, some may add to your grief by uttering these chilling
words: "Trouble not the Master." Remember, and forget not the
broken-hearted father whose "only daughter" died before the help of
the Good Physician could be obtained. There comes one from the ruler's
house saying unto him, "Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master."
The mournful message is heard by the Master, and turning to the
sorrowing father, he said, "Fear not; believe only, and she shall be
made whole." How speedily joy came into that darkened home when Jesus
entered and took the maiden by the hand!

Little know they that great heart of love who say to the sorrowful,
"Trouble not the Master." Young disciple, heed them not. Think no
sorrow too trifling to pour into his sympathizing ear. Whatever
troubles you interests him. "In all their affliction he was
afflicted." No tear falls unnoticed by him; no sigh escapes unheard.
He keepeth you "as the apple of his eye." What encouragement to carry
your griefs to Jesus! Satan would suggest that we "trouble not the
Master." He trembles to see such close communion between Christ and
the Christian. He knows that his power over the Saviour's "hidden
ones" is fast passing away, and he would be glad to raise all chilling
barriers to their delightful intercourse. "Get thee behind me, Satan!"
My Saviour invites, yea, urges, me to come to him with all my sorrows,
and I will cast all my cares on him, for he careth for me. "It is good
for me to draw near to God." Again and again have I found it good--oh
how good! All sympathy is sweet, but his sympathy is exceeding sweet.
Yes, so sweet is it that trouble is no longer trouble, because Christ
shares it with me. He changes the "valley of Baca" into the "land
Beulah." He gives me songs in the night, and his presence turns my
darkness into day.

"Trouble not the Master."

I tell you, Satan, it is no trouble for the Master to care for me; no
trouble to soothe my sorrowing spirit; no trouble to wipe away my
tears; no trouble to pillow my aching head upon his bosom; no trouble
to give me "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment
of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Many and many a time has he
done this, blessed be his name! Nothing troubles him but my sins.
Would to God they might trouble him no more! They grieve him; then let
me forsake them. By his help I will. Begone, unbelief, pride,
worldliness, ingratitude--begone! It is ye that trouble my Master!


[Illustration]



 VIII.
 _The Love._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider his love for
me_.

The record of Christ's deeds of mercy toward a multitude of sick and
suffering ones gives us a wonderful glimpse of his heart. The thought
of his perfect sympathy with his people has comforted the Church in
all ages. But draw a little nearer and consider his _personal love for
you_, dear young Christian. Listen to his voice saying so tenderly, "I
have loved thee." Forget for a moment the multitude that need his
compassion and the disciples who share his sympathy, and try to
realize his deep, personal love for you. Consider that love as shown
on Calvary. Remember the great price he has paid for your redemption.

During the dark days of the Netherland revolt there went forth a
decree from the cruel Philip the Second; and though many a bloody
edict had gone out before from that throne, this one in cruelty
exceeded them all, for it condemned to death all the inhabitants of
the Netherlands. "Heretic" was branded upon every one, and, without
respect to age or sex, they were doomed to destruction. Now, if a
mighty deliverer could have traversed those gloomy streets proclaiming
full deliverance for those who were condemned, with what joy would he
have been hailed! Not only would the public thanks of the nation have
been his, but each rescued one would have hastened to express his own
thanks to his deliverer.

Let then your heart overflow with grateful love when you remember the
great Deliverer. "Guilty" was branded upon every forehead when Jesus
came to the rescue; and while the thanks of all the redeemed are
ascending to the throne, let your praises unite with theirs, for you
too were under condemnation when Jesus offered pardon. His terms were
simple--"only believe;" and through the grace of God you were led to
accept the offer of everlasting life. "There is therefore now no
condemnation," for the Son hath made you free.

"No condemnation!" How sweet it sounds! How much it means! Christ hath
fulfilled the Law's requirements, and you are free. As we meditate
upon it we seem to hear the Saviour saying, "Lovest thou me?" Dear
Lord Jesus, we cannot love thee as thou hast loved us. A mother's love
is as naught when compared with thy love, for she _may_ forget, but
thou hast said thou wilt never forget us. But yet our hearts cherish
most fondly this secret of thy love to us. "I have loved thee with an
everlasting love."

It gives us joy in our loneliest hours. We love to think about it when
we are all alone. Never are we less alone than when alone, for then it
is we hear the sweetest whispers that ever fell on mortal ears. And
when we hear the voice of our Beloved, can we be indifferent to his
love? I tell thee, nay. Love, a faint reflection of his own, rises in
our heart, and falling on our knees before him, we exclaim, "Lord,
thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." Sadly we feel
that it is a poor spark of love--nothing like his great love to
us--yet we rejoice that the little spark is there, and pray that it
may be kindled into a steady flame. "Lord, thou knowest all things."
Oh how glad we are of this! Thou knowest every emotion of our heart
toward thee. Thou knowest our grief because we do not love thee more.

But this meditation has its practical bearings. We may not always
dwell upon the high mountain apart thinking about our Saviour's love.
Let our communion with Christ be as close and confidential as
possible, but let us never forget that He who spent whole nights
communing with his Father also spent whole days ministering to others.
Let, then, the love of Christ constrain us.

Standing safely upon the Rock Christ Jesus, let our hearts go out in
pity for those who are still breasting the billows. Faint and
exhausted, they seem ready to perish. "Help, Master, help!" Let our
prayers for them ascend unceasingly. The Master is not far off, and in
answer to our prayers he will come and rescue them with his strong
arm. Let the love of Christ constrain us to labor for the perishing
around us. This is our working-time, and this principle of love is the
life of our work.

This word "constrain" has several meanings. It might be thus
expressed: "The love of Christ transports us." It carries away our
souls in ecstasy even from earth to heaven, and fills us with holy
rapture. How often at the table of the Lord have we been thus
transported by thoughts of his everlasting love! And as we went on our
pilgrim way we cast frequent glances back to that hour of heavenly
brightness. Earth grew dim during those moments of holy communion.
Fain would we have tabernacled there.

The love of Christ _urges_ us, _prompts_ us. Sweet it will be to rest
in the arms of his love. But this rest remaineth; we have not yet
reached it; to the present belong toil and labor. There must be no
loitering in the Christian life. Where the love of Christ fills the
heart there can be no loitering. It is a prompting principle, ever
leading us to new endeavors for the Master.

The love of Christ _unites_ us. Though diversities of opinion mark
those who bear the Christian name, yet, if the Saviour's love fills
our hearts, we have one common platform where we may meet and hold
sweet fellowship. Our experience is the same: "we love him because he
first loved us." Our Hope is the same: Christ in us, "the hope of
glory." Our home is the same: "and there shall be one fold." Our
Shepherd is the same: "and I will set up one Shepherd over them." And
though our creeds may differ, our chorus is the same: "Thou art
worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood
out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Angels and
archangels round the throne join in the heavenly melody, saying, with
a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and
riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."
"And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under
the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them,"
being united by the love of Christ, join in the song which celebrates
his wondrous love.


[Illustration]



 IX.
 _The Life Abundant._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider the life more
abundant which he gives_.

We are amazed at the languid, feeble lives of many around us. Among
the aged we naturally look for inactivity, but, alas! "even the
youths" faint and are weary, and the young men utterly fall. Before
"the time of old age" the grasshopper becomes a burden, and we hear
the young exclaiming, in world-weary tones, "I have no pleasure in
them." They said in their hearts, "Go to, now; I will prove thee with
mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure." And behold they found it vanity.
They builded houses, and planted vineyards, and gathered silver and
gold; but, looking back on all the works their hands have wrought,
they are compelled to acknowledge that all is vanity and vexation of
spirit. Therefore they hate life and all their labor which they have
taken "under the sun." "For what," say they, "hath man of all his
labor, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath labored under
the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his
heart taketh not rest in the night. This also is vanity."

How marked and beautiful the change when Jesus takes possession of
these weary souls! "I am come," says the Master, "that they might have
life, and that they might have it _more abundantly_"--life in greater
quantity; "good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and
running over."

We hear much about the power of love to arouse the dormant faculties
and animate the feeble spirit. When this love is the dear, deep love
of Jesus, who can estimate its life-giving power? Truly, we hardly
begin to live till Jesus reveals himself to us--until, kneeling at his
cross, we consecrate to him our time, our talents and our all. From
henceforth life has for us new beauty, because Jesus is the charm of
our life.

Life "more abundantly!" Let us enter more deeply into the meaning of
these words. Let us understand that religion does not close the door
upon any lawful calling. The days of religious seclusion are long
past, but the days have not yet come when men have fully learned that
daily business is not antagonistic to Christian life, but that it is
one of the means of its development. It has been truly said that there
have been noble bands of Christians who have gone to heaven despising
ambition, refusing crowns, disdaining sceptres, unwilling to be
cumbered with wealth, willing to bear hardship and suffering; but
there shall be another band of men who shall do more mighty things
than they--men of higher grace who shall conquer enemies more strong
and terrible, who shall go to heaven even with crowns and sceptres or
with great wealth. Through abounding grace they learn Christian
development in spite of, and by means of, those external things which
cause the spiritual shipwreck of multitudes.

Let the spirit of the Saviour, dwelling in us richly, sanctify all
commerce, all learning, all politics, all art. May religion dignify
our every act. Religion was not simply designed for the dying hour.
"Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by
death." "For to me _to live_ is Christ."

Dear Lord Jesus, thou hast showed me "the path of life," and by thy
presence, even on earth, thou hast given me "fullness of joy." Thou
hast given me power when faint, and "increased strength" when I had no
might. Therefore my life shall praise thee. "A new creature" in
Christ, henceforth I will not live unto myself, but unto Him which
died for me and rose again, "for the love of Christ constraineth me."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



 X.
 _The Forgiveness._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider the full and
free forgiveness he imparts_.

The hour in which we first felt the joy of sins forgiven can never be
forgotten. The burden had grown so heavy that we could carry it no
longer, so, bending the knee at the foot of the cross, the burden was
cast upon Christ.

For many days our joy and peace were so great that we fondly hoped to
be burdened no more; but as old wounds often break out anew, so it is
with the soul, and the memory of "sins that are past" often sweeps
over the Christian like a bitter wave. Daily sins cause daily grief to
the heart that loves the Lord. The only way of peace is to carry them
at once to Jesus, confess all and seek forgiveness. We never seek in
vain.

But these past sins, these iniquities of our youth, how they rise up
to condemn us and take away our peace! "Thou writest bitter things
against me," saith Job, "and makest me possess the iniquities of my
youth." "My sin is ever before me," cries David in the bitterness of
his soul. It must have been a lifelong grief to Peter that he had
denied his Lord and Master. Others might easily forget his hour of
weakness and sin while they listened to his fearless words on the day
of Pentecost and heard him exclaim, "Him, being delivered by the
determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by
wicked hands have crucified and slain." But though others could
forget, how often must Peter's soul have been saddened by the memory
of his weakness and sin! Sounding along the corridors of memory, ever
and anon these words, "I know not the man," must have smote upon his
ears like a funeral knell. The recollection of that look of love must
often have brought tears to his eyes and filled his heart with tender
grief.

How many of us recall with deepest sorrow hours of weakness when,
yielding to strong temptation, we fell into sin! Perhaps no eye but
God's marked our wandering steps, no ear but his heard our words of
sin, no heart but his read the dark secret. The hour of true
contrition came when, ashamed and deeply grieved, we scarcely ventured
to look up to our offended Father, but casting our tearful eyes upon
the ground, we knelt and cried in anguish, "Thou hast set our
iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy
countenance." Remembering that "if we confess our sins he is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness," we freely confessed all, and in the deep peace that
followed we found a fulfillment of the promise. "I acknowledge my sin
unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my
transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my
sin."

But though the Lord is "ready to forgive," and "plenteous in mercy"
unto all them that call upon him, yet these past sins are weapons that
the great adversary often uses successfully in his warfare with the
pilgrims, causing many almost to stand still when they should be
running in the way of God's commandments.

Think you that our God desires from us constant mourning over "sins
that are past?" If these are to lie a perpetual burden on our hearts,
robbing us of our peace and clouding our hopes of heaven, what
advantage then hath the Christian? or what profit is there in the
atonement of Christ?

We have somewhere heard of a chemist who was lecturing before his
class. A number of rags of varied hue lay before him, and by means of
strong chemicals he was changing their colors into whiteness.
Presently he paused, and holding up a piece of Turkey red, he
remarked, "Ah! now we shall have some trouble, for of all colors this
is the hardest to extract." Again and again he dipped it into the
strong solution, but with little effect; then cast it aside, saying,
"It must either remain as it is, or else lie in the solution till its
very fibres are destroyed."

But the blood of Christ has power to extract even scarlet stains.
"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though
they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

Then "why art thou cast down, O my soul?" for "the righteousness of
God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all them that believe," is
"for the remission of sins that are past," as well as for the
constantly recurring sins of the present.

Shall we, then, never think of our past sins? Yes; think of them as
the mariner thinks of dangers past, and as the redeemed in glory think
of past tribulations. "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves
thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he
bringeth them unto their desired haven." Yes; think of them with
gratitude to God for deliverance, and let this be your song as you
press on: "He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many
waters: he delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated
me; for they were too strong for me." "When I said, My foot slippeth,
thy mercy, O Lord, held me up." "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress,
and my deliverer; the God of my rock: in him will I trust; he is my
shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my
Saviour." "For who is a God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save
our God? Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the
heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name."

Think of them, also, with humility and self-distrust, and let this be
your constant prayer: "Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my
footsteps slip not." "Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me under
the shadow of thy wings."

But oh do not carry the memory of past sins as a weight to drag your
soul down to the dust! If the Lord has forgiven and forgotten them,
why not rejoice in this wonderful token of his love toward you?
Casting aside every weight, you may thus rise to the enjoyment of "a
present heaven."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



 XI.
 _The Help._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I remember the stones of
help he has given_.

For forty days the champion of the Philistines had defied the armies
of Israel. He was a man of great stature--a giant--and a man of war
from his youth. "And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man,
fled from him and were sore afraid." All, yet not all, for one
accepted Goliath's challenge and stepped forth to battle with him. Who
was he? The strongest, bravest and oldest veteran in the army? No; he
was not a soldier, but a shepherd-boy, and too young to be enrolled.
"A stripling" the king calls him, and his weapons are only "_five
smooth_ _stones_!" Is it any wonder that his elder brother chided him
and that Goliath disdained him? Trusting in the Lord who delivered him
out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he went
forth confident of victory. He took a stone from his bag and put it in
his sling, and buried it in the giant's forehead so that he fell
prostrate to the ground. How wonderful!

There are giants still in the land--giant powers that defy the armies
of the living God. There are giant sins and giant fears that throw
themselves across the path of every Christian and threaten his
destruction. And if this page shall meet the eye of some youthful
warrior who would fain overcome those spiritual foes that challenge
the soul, permit me to choose five smooth stones for you, with which
you shall prevail to lay the giants low.

_The presence of God_ is one of these stones: "Thou God seest me."
Sometimes, like David's first stone, it is enough to kill the Goliath
of temptation. When sinners entice us, there is power enough to defend
us in the thought that the many eyes of the Most High are looking on
us, and the soul starts back appalled, saying, "How then can I do this
great wickedness, and sin against God?"

_The power of God_ is another of these precious stones. David declined
to go forth to battle with Saul's armor. He could not go with weapons
which he had not proved, but he took to himself "the whole armor of
God." He had proved it, and knew by experience that there was more
than protection in that panoply. Goliath was a giant, but he was not
God. He was mighty, but he was not almighty. He was potent, but he was
not omnipotent.

_The wisdom of God_ is still another of these stones. The mighty man
of Gath was mailed from head to foot. He was completely covered with a
coat of iron and brass. His whole body was protected; only his
forehead was left exposed that he might be able to see his antagonist.
And, strange to say, the first smooth stone went straight to this only
place where it could harm him, "and sunk into his forehead." God's
wisdom guided it to its own place.

_The faithfulness of God_ is another of these stones. In his holy word
he has made unto us many exceeding great and precious promises, and
his faithfulness ensures their fulfillment. He will do as he said.
Heaven and earth may pass away, but his promises shall never pass
away. If ordinary means will not suffice for their accomplishment,
miracles shall be wrought. The sun and moon shall stand still, if need
be. Taking the past as pledge of the future, "there shall not fail one
good word of all that the Lord our God hath spoken."

_The love of God_ is the last stone of help. "And the last shall be
first." It is the smoothest and most precious of the five. There is
some gold in all the others, but this one is all gold, and the most
fine gold. In the presence, power, wisdom and faithfulness of God much
love is mingled. He goes with us and upholds us and guides us and
remembers his covenant because he loves us, so that our last thought
crowns and comprehends all the others. The love of God is first and
last and best. Presence, power, wisdom, faithfulness and love, these
five; but the greatest of these is love.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



 XII.
 _The Deliverance._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider him as my
Deliverer_.

How dense the gloom that gathers round the record of Adam's sin and
fall! Reading this chapter without the cross before our eyes, it seems
the saddest in all the inspired volume. Issuing from the abyss of woe,
Satan has found an entrance into a newly-created world. Sin and death
have bridged the gulf that separated earth from hell, and are swift to
follow in Satan's track, eager to complete the ruin his hellish hate
devised. Fiends from the pit rejoice, while angels, with grief-clouded
faces, gaze upon the guilty pair. "Adam, where art thou?" Sinful man
hears the summons, and, compelled by power divine, appears in the
presence of his offended Maker. "Can any hide himself in secret places
that I shall not see him? saith the Lord." "Though they hide
themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out
hence." Truly, "there is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the
workers of iniquity may hide themselves."

But when we read this record in the light of the cross, our grief
speedily changes into gladness. That the promise made to Satan, "Thou
shalt bruise his heel," has not been retracted, each disciple of
Christ can testify. The old enmity hissed forth by the arch-apostate
and his followers when the almighty Arm hurled them into their own
place, has not yet been destroyed. The conflict, begun in Paradise,
between the seed of the woman and the serpent--that conflict darkly
shadowed forth in the mythology of heathen nations and painfully
experienced by each regenerate heart--is raging still. "O wretched man
that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" cries
the Christian. "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from
me!" prays the Christian's Lord and Master. That the bruising is not
light, Gethsemane and Calvary bear mournful testimony. Nevertheless,
it is not vital. Thou mayest bruise his heel, Satan, but not his head.
From the abode of demons a yell of triumph must have risen when the
Light of Life was extinguished on the cross. But the triumph was
short-lived. "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I
shall arise." "That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die."
"Thou shalt bruise his heel" because Omnipotence allows it, for "it
pleased the Lord to bruise him," but "it shall bruise thy head."
"Traveling in the greatness of his strength," Jesus plants his feet
upon the necks of his enemies and chains the captives to his triumphal
car. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has seized the prey. "Judah, thou
art he whom his brethren shall praise." "Let all the people praise
thee, O God; let all the people praise thee." And those who will not
render him willing homage shall be trampled under the wheels of his
advancing chariot. "But these mine enemies, which would not that I
should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."

Shiloh, the Pacificator, has come; and though the conflict has not
ceased, the combatants are already singing the conqueror's song. What
meaneth this shout of triumph that cometh up from the battle-field? It
is the voice of them that shout for the mastery. They go forth
singing, "Thanks be unto God, which giveth us the victory, through our
Lord Jesus Christ." We hear their song above the clash of arms; amid
the smoke of the battle-field we see their look of quiet confidence;
and as they fall in the conflict they shout, "O Death, where is thy
sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?"

From heaven above is now proclaimed the blessing above the curse; and
though Eden was lost through the disobedience of Adam, Paradise shall
be regained through the obedience of Christ.

Mercy closed Eden's gate. "Behold, saith the Lord, the man is become
as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his
hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever,
therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden." Life
everlasting, even in the garden of Eden, would be no boon to a
sin-stricken race.

The gates are open now not only "that the King of Glory may come in,"
but also for "the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy
face, O God of Jacob." "They shall ascend into the hill of the Lord;"
they "shall stand in his holy place."


[Illustration]



 XIII.
 _The Hearer of Prayer._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider him as the
Hearer and Answerer of prayer_; for his promises concerning prayer are
many, making us "always confident" when we come to the throne of the
heavenly grace. Surely, every Christian may approach with confidence,
saying in his heart, "My God will hear me." He may adopt the language
of full assurance and say, "Father, I know that thou hearest me
always." The Bible abounds in promises relating to prayer. We also
find there many illustrations of God's willingness to answer the
prayers of his children.

But some may say, "Notwithstanding the promises which appear so
positive, we do not always receive that for which we ask." There are
many reasons why this is so. Sometimes our motive in asking is wrong.
"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss." Sometimes we do not
ask in faith, consequently, no answer comes; for thus reads the
faithful promise: "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer,
_believing_, ye shall receive." Therefore "ask in faith, nothing
wavering." There is another reason why we do not always receive the
things for which we ask. In our ignorance and short-sightedness we
often ask for that which God in his wisdom sees would be hurtful to
us. Loving us with more than a mother's love, he withholds the evil
which seems to us good, and sends the good which seems to us evil.
Though God's providence may seem to contradict his promise, yet this
is a faithful saying: "No good thing will he withhold from them that
walk uprightly." The wicked often prosper for a time. "They are not in
trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Their
eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart can wish.
Behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the world; they increase
in riches."

How shall we solve this seeming contradiction? Suppose we cannot solve
it. Shall we therefore arraign the justice of God? Shall we reject the
promise because we cannot understand it in the light of God's
providence? Oh, not so. Let us remember that now we know only in part.
But do we not often forget the condition of this promise? Do we not
make the promise void by our unworthy walking? "No good thing will he
withhold from them that walk _uprightly_." "If ye abide in me, and my
words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done
unto you."

We must remember that God's standard of judging between good and evil
is very different from ours. In this our thoughts are not as God's
thoughts. We call poverty, sorrow, sickness and bereavement evil; God
often shows us that they are good. We ask health; in answer God sends
sickness, which he blesses to the healing of all our spiritual
maladies. He can make our sick-chambers very Pisgahs, so that we shall
thank him for sickness. Sometimes in our weariness and discouragement
we pray for death. God in answer sends sufficient grace. He maketh our
feet "like hind's feet," equal to the way. Is not his "a more
excellent way?" It seems to us every Christian should be satisfied
with answers like these. Is it not better to have our portion
appointed by God? It is better when praying for temporal blessings
always to say, in spirit if not in words, "Nevertheless, not my will,
but thine be done."

There are some things for which you may ask without any limitations,
and these are spiritual gifts; "for this is the will of God, even your
sanctification." You may also have this confidence when praying for
the conversion of friends. God has provided salvation sufficient for
all. In our Father's house there is room enough, and in our Father's
heart there is love enough, for all. None need perish with hunger. "As
I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the
wicked; but that the wicked should turn from his way and live." If,
then, you have a desire in your heart for the conversion of a soul, be
assured that God awakened that desire. It is a token of his readiness
to bless. "Have faith in God," "and wait on thy God continually."
Plead till the answer comes; "though it tarry, wait for it." "What
things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them,
and ye shall have them."


[Illustration]



 XIV.
 _The Reward._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I think of his reward for
faithful labor_.

The weariness of work is often very great, but if sufficient
recompense follows our endeavors, if success crowns our working, we
soon forget past toils, "for the desire accomplished is sweet to the
soul." But if we can see no good resulting from our labors,
disappointment and grief increase our fatigue. Yes, the weariness of
grief far exceeds the weariness of successful labors, though they may
be "labors more abundant," "in season" and "out of season." The
faithful minister of Christ will here bear me witness, for of all
times of exhaustion he will acknowledge this to be the greatest, when
he goes from the pulpit to the closet with this despairing cry: "Who
hath believed our report?" "Master, we have toiled all the night and
have taken nothing."

It was morning when upon the shore of Tiberias three tired fishermen
were seen. They were sad as well as weary, for the night had yielded
them no recompense. From the crowd that pressed upon him to hear the
word of God, Jesus stepped forth and entered into Simon's boat. And
when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, "Launch out into the
deep, and let down your nets for a draught." Naturally enough, Simon,
answering, said, "Master, we have toiled all the night." They were
very tired now, and were greatly in need of rest and refreshment. "All
the night." Slowly must the hours have worn away while they labored
and waited. And then he added, "We have taken nothing." We can almost
hear the tone of disappointment in which he said it. It would have
been no marvel if he had added, "Lord, if we have been so unsuccessful
during the time that is generally the most favorable for fishing, will
it not be useless for us to make another attempt? Besides, we are
weary all over and almost sick with disappointment; let us at least
wait till the falling darkness favors our work."

But Simon Peter's answer was marked by more faith than this. While he
reminded the Master how long and unsuccessfully they had toiled, he
quickly added, "Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net."
And a great multitude of fishes was the result of this act of faith
and prompt obedience. Peter and all that were with him were astonished
at the draught of fishes which they had taken.

To our mind this astonishment does not confute the idea that this act
of obedience was prompted by faith. The result so speedily followed,
and was so great in its magnitude, that the strongest faith might well
be taken by surprise. Have you not sometimes been surprised by the
blessed and abundant answer to prayer which you have received? Perhaps
the salvation of a dear friend was the deep desire of your heart. For
this you toiled till you nearly fainted at the mercy-seat. You prayed
unceasingly, and you believed it was the prayer of faith; yet when the
answer came you were almost overcome with astonishment.

Contemplating this scene, let us take new courage. The sowing-time is
often a time of exhaustion. It is also a time of weeping; from very
weakness God's seed-bearers weep. The work is great; "who is
sufficient for these things?" Sometimes God in his infinite wisdom
sees fit to withhold from them the knowledge of the results they are
really accomplishing. Often he calls them away before the seed is
fully ripe, and they never see the harvest, nor hear the joyful song
of the reapers who come after them. They sow in tears, and then they
lie down at the close of the day, and with sighs and tears they pass
away; but God watches over the precious seed, and the tear-watering
causes it to flourish more abundantly and ensures a more glorious
harvest. At the time of planting, if the husbandman sees no signs of
coming rain, he steeps his seed over night in water that it may spring
up sooner; but no seed springs up so soon as that which is steeped in
tears. "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall
doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."

The present reward of work is very great, and much to be desired. "In
all labor there is profit." Every deed done for the good of others
brings a blessing to our own souls: seeking their happiness, we find
our own. God's laborers are blessed above all others. He never forgets
to reward the smallest work of love; even the cup of cold water given
in his name shall be remembered. When we fail to accomplish the good
we designed, we cannot say that our labors were in vain or that we
have spent our strength for naught. God's designs have been
accomplished; our souls have been disciplined; and as we sit down upon
the ruins of our brightest plans and fairest hopes, we glorify God far
more by our cheerful submission than we could have done by successful
labors.

But the _future_ reward, how great it is and how enduring! The
harvest-time will be a time of joy. Past labor and weeping will be
forgotten when the Lord of the vineyard shall call the laborers that
he may reward them abundantly. What a scene will then be presented to
our view! From north, from south, from east, from west, will they
come--some who have toiled through the heat and burden of a long day;
others who have labored but one short hour. I, too, will obey the
call, saying, as I come and kneel before the God of the harvest,
"Master, behold my sheaves. I know they are very few and of little
worth; yet, Master, behold my sheaves." Then shall these cheering
words come to me, and not to me only, but to all the faithful
laborers: "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the
joy of thy Lord."

Weary worker in the vineyard, waste not your strength in weeping. Say
not, "I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for naught, and
in vain;" for surely your judgment is with the Lord, and your work, or
your reward, with your God. "Thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice
from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be
rewarded, saith the Lord."


[Illustration]



 XV.
 _The Soul's Portion._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider him as my
soul's best portion_.

Again and again in God's holy word are we warned to avoid
covetousness. From the midst of the thunders and lightning of Sinai
issues the emphatic command, "Thou shalt not covet." "Take heed, and
beware of covetousness," saith the Master, "for a man's life
consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth." "Let
your conversation be without covetousness," enjoins the great apostle,
"and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will
never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

In order, then, to gain this sweet content, let us meditate upon
Christ, who is our soul's eternal portion. Let us consider what we
already possess, and also meditate upon "things to come," till our
hands shall relax their grasp upon earthly things and our hearts cling
more closely to Christ. Our lips vainly declare, "Christ is all," if
our lives contradict our lips. The worldling looks at our daily life,
and soon judges whether or not we are satisfied with Christ.

"Conversation" means more than mere words. In its original meaning it
includes the whole life. Our whole lives, then, must prove that Christ
is our all.

Can we be contented in sickness, in sorrow and in poverty? Yes, we
can; "for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." In
sickness the Lord will make all your bed; he will strengthen you upon
the bed of languishing; his left hand will be under your head, while
his right hand will embrace you. In sorrow he will be with you, for he
has said, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou
walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the
flame kindle upon thee." In poverty be content, for though you are
poor and, it may be, despised of men, you are not forgotten by God.
That you might have eternal riches he became poor--so poor that he had
not where to lay his head. The manger was his cradle and the rich
man's tomb was borrowed for his burial. "For ye know the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he
became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."

Christ is our _eternal_ portion, "for he hath said, I will _never_
leave thee, nor forsake thee." "Lo, I am with you alway" were his last
words on earth. Be content, then, with such things as ye have. Having
Christ, ye possess all things, "for all things are yours; and ye are
Christ's, and Christ is God's."

The "things present," which belong to us through the covenant of peace
made with Christ, are precious and greatly to be desired. We have the
promise of all things needful for this life. "My God shall supply all
your need." "No good thing will he withhold from them that walk
uprightly." Bread is sure; water is sure. "The young lions do lack,
and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good
thing." "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what
ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye
shall put on." "Consider the ravens" and "the lilies," and "be not
faithless, but believing;" for if God so feedeth the ravens and
clotheth the lilies, "how much more will he" feed and clothe you, "O
ye of little faith!"

Come and meditate upon his promises, for they are positive and sure,
and full of sweet comfort. All your wants are supplied by your Lord
Jesus. Are you sick? He is your Healer. Are you weary? He is your
Rest. Are you in trouble? He is your very present Helper. Are the days
dark? He is your Sun. Are you in danger from the darts of the
adversary? He is your Shield. Does the desert sun beat hot upon your
head and the desert sand scorch your pilgrim feet? He is "as the
shadow of a great rock in a weary land." When the wicked, even your
enemies and your foes, come upon you, he is your Fortress and your
strong Tower. He is your Teacher, Brother, Friend and Saviour. What
more do you desire?

And when "things present" are about to pass away for ever, and your
trembling feet touch the cold waters of the river of death, before the
last fond grasp of earth is given, Christ will take your hand in his,
and as he draws very near to you, you will feel in that hour that
Christ is the best portion your soul can possess. His finger will
point plainly toward "things to come," and he will doubtless give you
glimpses of glory before the time.

We need not, however, wait till the last hour to consider the things
God has laid up for us. The lesson of present content is more easily
learned while we sit, like Bunyan's Patience, waiting for our good
things. Passion would not be satisfied till his lap was filled with
golden treasure, but Patience, with empty hands, was very quiet,
though Passion laughed scornfully. "Patience," says Bunyan, "is
willing to wait."

What a beautiful figure of the Christian! And what are these good
things for which the Christian is willing to wait?

First of all, he has a home in the future. No earthly home can be
compared to it, for it is a home where change and death never come.
The earthly home may be made desolate by death, but in the heavenly
home there shall be no vacant place. "There shall be no more death,
neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for
the former things are passed away."

The Christian has also a crown laid up in the future. Here thorns may
bruise his aching brow, but there he shall be crowned. And earthly
crowns will pale before the Christian's crown of glory. If he is wise
in winning souls, they shall be placed as jewels in his crown; for
though all will have bright crowns, some shall be surpassingly
glorious, being studded with immortal souls.

Let me, dear Lord, be one of those who "turn many to righteousness."
Give me a glorious crown, and I will gladly lay it at thy feet. No
matter if it must be with weeping that I now go forth to win souls, no
matter if my heart be weary and my hands be heavy, the reward will
more than compensate for the weariness and weeping, and every redeemed
soul shall shine in my diadem of glory.

Let the worldling keep his portion and clutch his paltry treasures
till they crumble to dust beneath his eager fingers, but let

  "My soul to heaven aspire,
  And fix its all on God."

He is my best portion, and "my meditation of him shall be sweet" when
I remember that this "good part," which his grace has enabled me to
choose, "shall not be taken away" from me.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



 XVI.
 _The Cross._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider his cross and
mine_.

The cross is the emblem of our religion. To it the awakened sinner
flies when conscience fills him with gloomy fears. There is no place
of safety for him save in its blessed shadow. Looking up with faith,
he sees Jesus, the suffering Saviour, and with the sight peace and joy
fill his heart. As he starts upon his pilgrim course the cross is set
before him, and these are his marching orders: "If any man will come
after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
Oh how he learns to love that cross of shame! it becomes radiant with
glory, and as he journeys he sings,

  "In the cross of Christ I glory."

As he bears his own personal cross, which sometimes is exceedingly
heavy, he lays the heaviest end of it upon Christ, and looks up
joyfully through his tears to the great Cross-Bearer and learns to
"glory in tribulation." Looking up, what does he see? Beyond the cross
he sees the crown. How dazzling! how enduring! No stain nor rust shall
ever mar its beauty; none shall ever rob it of its sparkling gems.

Tell me, I ask, who shall wear these bright crowns? "And he said unto
me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have
washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Out
of great tribulation into great exaltation. What a striking contrast!
What a happy exchange! Like the Master, they passed from a lowly state
of trouble into a lofty state of triumph. Because they were not
ashamed of him in his grief, he was not ashamed of them in his glory.
They were saved not because they suffered, but because they trusted in
Him who suffered for them. Some of them suffered even unto the death,
but the blood that made white their garments was not their own; it was
"the blood of the Lamb." "_Therefore_ are they before the throne of
God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on
the throne shall dwell among them."

How happy are they now! Former trials, when recalled, only lead them
to new songs of praise. They remember all the way of the past, and
strike the harp-strings with exultant fingers when they think of their
sufferings, now exchanged for endless joys.

Consider your cross, young disciple, and meditate upon it without
bitter thought. It was a wise and loving Hand that laid it upon your
shoulder, and that same Hand will lift it when he thinks you have
carried it long enough. "He doeth all things well." The end shall be
better than the beginning, and in eternity you will understand it all.
Your voice will rise in higher, loftier strains when you remember the
sickness that was sanctified and the sorrow that led you nearer to
your God.

  "Oh what a load of struggle and distress
  Falls off before the cross! The feverish care;
  The wish that we were other than we are;
  The sick regrets; the yearnings numberless;
  The thought, "this might have been," so apt to press
  On the reluctant soul; even past despair;
  Past sin itself,--all, all is turned to fair,
  Ay, to a scheme of ordered happiness,
  As soon as we love God, or rather know
  That God loves us!... Accepting the great pledge
  Of his concern for all our wants and woe,
  We cease to tremble upon danger's edge;
  While varying troubles form and burst anew,
  Safe in a Father's arms we smile as infants do."


[Illustration]



 XVII.
 _The Presence._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I remember his near and
constant presence_; for he is the joy of my life and the life of my
joy. Joy without him is hardly worth the name of joy, and sorrow with
him is better than joy.

When my heart is overwhelmed because of enemies and foes, my terrified
soul turns quickly to him, and David's prayer becomes all my own: "Be
not thou far from me, O Lord; O my Strength, haste thee to help me!
Deliver my soul." The answer quickly comes: "Wait on the Lord; be of
good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart."

But oh, my Saviour, "they mar my path." Remove these enemies, even for
thine own name's sake; for then shall I run in the way of holiness and
my ever-brightening path shall show forth thy praise.

And again the answer comes: "Commit thy way unto the Lord;" "My
presence shall go with thee."

Nearer and nearer draws the Saviour; sweeter and sweeter is his
presence in this time of my soul's sorest need. He lifts my prostrate
soul and bids my weary eyes survey the upward path. How glorious to
behold! He tells me "these light afflictions" are working out "a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." And when I feel his
strong arms around me, my soul breaks forth in singing:

  "I have no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
  Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness."

Blessed is the man who has learned the secret of a happy life, and,
like Enoch, walks with God. We care not to know the outward
circumstances of him whose inner life is hid with God. His delighted
soul bathes in the sunshine of God's smile; his face reflects the
peace that flows like a river through his spirit.

It was the presence of Christ that made the Emmaus journey so
delightful. We know that the favored two started with slow steps and
heavy hearts, and there was a deep undertone of sadness in their
voices as they talked together of all the strange things that had
happened. But what a change came over them! A stranger joined their
company, and as he talked with them their hearts burned within them,
till, drawing near the journey's end, they felt so unwilling to lose
his company that they constrained him to come in and tarry with them.
And so it came to pass that the last hours of the day were the best
hours. In the morning it was cloudy and dark, but at evening-time it
was light, for as they sat at meat the Sun of Righteousness shone full
and clear into their hearts, dispersing all the clouds.

Does not this journey remind us of some of the days of our pilgrimage?
The morning found us heavy-hearted. We knelt at the mercy-seat, while
sighs and groans took the place of songs and rejoicings. With slow
steps and aching hearts we began the duties of the day. But soon there
came a change. Jesus, our Lord, drew near. He spake some cheering
promise, uttered some whisper of his love. Our hearts began to melt;
again we knelt at the mercy-seat. We prayed, we praised; we rose and
hastened to our duties, singing as we worked; and so the hours sped
on. Night fell; still he tarried: we slept in sweet security, for "so
he giveth his beloved sleep;" we woke to find that we were still with
Jesus.

Happy the soul that hath the abiding presence of the Saviour. Be this
our constant prayer: "Abide with us." "Lord, I am not worthy that thou
shouldst come under my roof," but yet my heart cries out, "Abide with
me." Give me light in the evening-time. Abide with me "until the day
break and the shadows flee away."

  "Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
  But as thou dwell'st with thy disciples, Lord--
  Familiar, condescending, patient, free--
  Come, not to sojourn, but abide, with me."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



 XVIII.
 _The Appearing._


"My meditation of him shall be sweet" _when I consider his appearing_.

To those who have refused the Saviour's offer of mercy the thought of
his second coming is full of terror. With them there is a "certain
fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation." Having
"trodden under foot the Son of God," and "counted the blood of the
covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing," is it any
wonder if they fear to fall into the hands of the living God, knowing
full well that the fearful and unbelieving "shall have their part in
the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone?"

But the event which strikes such terror into the hearts of those who
are without Christ and without hope in the world, fills the heart of
the Christian with exceeding joy. There is comfort, yea, great
comfort, in the thought of Christ's coming. The apostles departed from
Olivet with new hope and joy after receiving this angel message: "This
same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in
like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Ever since, the
waiting Church has been gazing steadfastly toward heaven, "looking for
that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ." And ever and anon angel voices have uttered
words of comfort to the waiting ones. Often the voice is the voice of
our Beloved, the Angel of the Covenant. "I will come again," he says,
"and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Hear his last prayer: "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast
given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory." Hear
the last words of inspiration: "Surely I come quickly." And the
waiting company of believers joyfully respond, "Amen. Even so, come,
Lord Jesus."

The thought of his coming comforts those whose dearest friends sleep
in Jesus, for them will God bring with him. This shall be a time of
glad reunions. Let us not sorrow "as others which have no hope." We
shall soon be ever with one another.

_There is deliverance_ in the thought of Christ's coming; "for we that
are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened." Yes, young disciple,
we have not yet reached that state of perfection when we have no
burdens. We are yet in the body, and the burden of sorrow is often
upon us; and though we try to cast this burden on the Lord, we yet
look forward with joy to Christ's coming, for then "sorrow and sighing
shall flee away," and "God shall wipe away all tears." And though
Christ has delivered us from the penalty of the broken law, yet the
burden of sin is often upon us, and many times with contrition and
shame we bow before the mercy-seat, saying, sadly, "Father, I have
sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be
called thy son." The burden of death is upon us, and Christ's coming
gives comfort to those who through fear of death are all their
lifetime subject to bondage.

Trembling disciple, perhaps you are fearing what may never come upon
you. You may be among the number of those who shall be alive at the
coming of the Lord. The time may not be distant, for nearly all the
prophecies have been fulfilled and the signs of the times seem to
declare plainly, "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh." Many a time,
it is true, the waiting Church has fancied it heard the sound of his
chariot-wheels, but the time was not yet. "Where is the promise of his
coming?" cries the scoffing world. "Behold, I come quickly." Believers
closely clasp this promise to their hearts while they pray for
patience to wait. Generations have passed away, but the word of the
Lord endureth for ever. "I come quickly." Perhaps this generation
shall not pass away till all be fulfilled. It may be so. Certainly
there is "upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;" men's
hearts are "failing them for fear, and for looking after those things
which are coming on the earth."

"My Lord, I stand continually upon my watch-tower," remembering the
benediction, "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh
shall find watching."

Last of all and best of all, _there is glory_ in the thought of
Christ's coming. There is comfort, great comfort; there is
deliverance, great deliverance; there is glory, great glory, "a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." "Behold, I show you a
mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet
shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall
be changed; for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this
mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have
put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is
swallowed up in victory." What a glorious picture! No doubt is here
admitted. "We _shall_ be changed;" "this corruptible _must_ put on
incorruption;" "this mortal _must_ put on immortality."

This thought of glory overwhelms us; it is a "weight of glory." To be
ever with one another is blessedness; to be ever with the Lord is
glory. To be free from this body of sin and death is deliverance; to
wear the likeness of our glorified Lord is transfiguration--wonderful,
dazzling, glorious!

Is it any wonder, then, if our meditation is sweet when we reflect
upon "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus
Christ," "who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned
like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is
able even to subdue all things unto himself?" No wonder the apostle
calls it "a blessed hope." It sustains the heart of the aged Christian
who has "fought a good fight" and finished his course. It also helps
the young disciple to "run with patience" the race that is set before
him.

"This same Jesus shall come again." How? "In like manner as ye have
seen him go into heaven." "Behold he cometh with clouds," and with
"ten thousand of his saints." And why does he come? To take his weary
children home. "I will come again and receive you unto myself."

"Wherefore, comfort one another with these words."


[Illustration]



 XIX.
 _The Conclusion._


"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter."

We have meditated upon the names of Christ, and have found in them a
sweet significance. Jehovah Tsidkenu satisfied the demands of the
broken law, making us righteous in the sight of God. Jehovah Shalom
gave a peace which even this tumultuous world cannot take from us.
Jehovah Nissi leads us forth to battle against our mighty foes, and
always gives us the victory; "thanks be to God!" Jehovah Rophi healeth
all our diseases with marvelous skill: even the broken heart is not
beyond his power, for his own word declares, "He healeth the broken in
heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Jehovah Jireh quiets all our
fears for the future, for his name is sufficient pledge that he will
supply all our need. Jehovah Shammah completes and crowns our joy, for
in his presence is fullness of joy; "his presence is salvation."

We have rejoiced in "the earnest of our inheritance." Glimpses of
glory before the time have made us homesick. His "perfect work" has
filled our minds with amazement as we meditated upon our adoption,
justification, sanctification and redemption. The thoughts of his
chastenings were not painful, because we knew a blessing was concealed
in the blow. His compassion for the multitude seemed to us a sweet
thought; but as we learned something more about his sympathy with all
his "sanctified ones," and his deep personal love for each individual
Christian, our hearts melted within us, and drawing nearer to this
great heart of love, we joyfully exclaimed, "This is my Beloved, and
this is my Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."

We have considered the life more abundant which he gives, until life
with Christ seemed the happiest life man can know. Thoughts of the
full and free forgiveness of all our sins, even sins of scarlet hue,
were comforting thoughts; and while we cast the past behind our backs,
we looked forward to the future with new confidence, remembering the
"stones of help" provided by him to slay the giant sins. Deliverance
from the curse was certainly a pleasant thought; and as we gazed into
Paradise regained, we gave thanks because Christ had purchased for us
the "right to the tree of life" which stands in the midst of the
Paradise of God.

Our meditation was sweet when we thought of his faithful promises
concerning prayer, for his word confirmed our own experience, and we
learned to kneel and ask with a more unwavering confidence.
Considering his reward for faithful labors made us almost forget the
weariness of work as we seemed already to hear his "Well done, thou
good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

Christ as the soul's best portion filled the heart with deep,
unspeakable joy, and we took up our cross, singing as we walked,
because his near presence made us almost unmindful of its weight upon
our shoulder.

On Olivet we had our last glimpse of our living Lord. Here we stood
"gazing up into heaven" at "this same Jesus," who is as dear to us as
he was to the twelve. Our hearts thrilled over his parting blessing,
and the thought of his coming again filled us with delight.

Our meditations are over now. They have been "sweet," or, as it may be
rendered, "as the calm evening hour." Meditating upon Jesus has
increased our joy: "I will be glad in the Lord." Around his very name
sweet thoughts thickly cluster. Jesus! my Jesus! In that dear name the
best music of heaven comes down to me.

How sweet it sounds! A bundle of myrrh it is--a hill of
frankincense--a mountain of spices. Through all the livelong day,
through all the silent watches of the night, my mind may turn to Him
whose "name is as ointment poured forth," and no bitter, doubting,
fearful thought shall ever mingle with my musing. No dark thread shall
ever weave itself into the silver web of my sweet meditation of him,
for my unbelief is banished when my Jesus is near. All my grief fades
away in the presence of his glory, and he his own self is the joy of
my heart and the heart of my joy.

"My Beloved is mine, and I am his." All that he is is mine, and all
that I am is his. He is more than all the world to me, and without him
heaven would not be worth having. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and
there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." Jesus! my Jesus!
Eternal musings will not exhaust this hive of honey. He has saved me
from my sins and betrothed me to himself for ever. O my soul, "how
much owest thou unto my Lord!" The greatness of my indebtedness I will
not fully realize till I stand upon the yonder shore, and perhaps not
even then.

  "Jesus, I ne'er can pay
  The debt I owe thy love."

I am, and ever will be, "debtor." Thy gifts to me have been so great
that, though my giving cannot enrich thee, I would fain relieve my
grateful heart by giving thee some token of love.

In the stable at Bethlehem the Eastern sages open their costly
treasures. The sight is a strange one, and there seems a strange
incongruity between the gifts and the receiver; also between the giver
and the receiver. The wise men bow before a babe, and lavish the
riches of the East upon the infant of the lowly manger. "Lavish," did
I say? Let not the thought of waste be here implied. This babe is "the
holy child Jesus," the King of the Jews. Bring costly sacrifices. "The
kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; the kings of
Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down
before him; all nations shall serve him."

Jesus, Saviour, once a child! Jesus, my exalted King! what shall I
bring to thy footstool? What shall I give my Lord?

  "Were the whole realm of nature mine,
  That were a present far too small."

But I am poor, very poor. No good works have I to bring; no incense of
holy prayers; no golden thoughts in which there mingles no alloy of
impurity.

  "Thou willest that thy bride should be--
    I bless thy will--most poor, most low,
  Receiving everything from thee,
    My Lord and God. Then be it so.

  "That I have nothing of my own,
    Freely and gladly I to all declare.
  This is my portion, this alone,
    That thou permittest me thy name to bear."

Have I then nothing to give? Stay, holy Christ; I have a heart. True,
it is polluted--more than this, it is broken--yet I have heard that
though

  "Our God requires a whole heart or none,
  Yet he will accept a broken one."

Accept the gift. Take it and make it holy; fill it with love to thee.
Fill it even to overflowing; so that, having received all from thee, I
may be able to give thee all. Let me be wholly thine--thine in every
thought and passion of my soul. Here, Lord, I give my soul to thee; I
am thine.

  "Poor heart of mine, awake, arise!
    And thou, my Bridegroom, my life's Sun,
  Draw me to reach the heavenly prize,
    Oh, do thou draw, and we will run.
  Draw after thee thy fainting bride,
    Who still is far, too far, from light and grace;
  Till in thy presence, at thy side,
    She see thee wholly--see thee face to face."

My meditation of him makes me long to see Him whom, having not seen, I
love. I would see him--not as I have seen him in the sanctuary and in
his holy supper, but I would see him "face to face." I would see him
as he is; and, blessed be his glorious name for ever! I shall one day
see him thus. Oh blessed hope! These eyes shall see Jesus; "For I know
that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day
upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet
in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine
eyes shall behold, and not another."

And, better than all beside, I shall be like him; for "we know that
when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he
is." Such knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high; I cannot
attain unto it.

  "Jesus! the very thought is sweet;
  In that dear name all heart-joys meet;
  But sweeter than the honey far
  The glimpses of his presence are.

  "No word is sung more sweet than this;
  No name is heard more full of bliss;
  No thought brings sweeter comfort nigh
  Than Jesus, Son of God most high.

  "Jesus, the Hope of souls forlorn,
  How good to them for sin that mourn!
  To them that seek thee, oh how kind!
  But what art thou to them that find!

  "No tongue of mortal can express,
  No letter write, its blessedness:
  Alone who hath thee in his heart
  Knows, love of Jesus, what thou art.

  "O Jesus! King of wondrous might;
  O Victor! glorious from the fight;
  Sweetness that may not be expressed,
  And altogether loveliest."


THE END.





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