"Unto you therefore which believe He is
precious."—1 Pet. ii. 7.
Here is a text by which men may try themselves, and
ask, "Is Christ precious to me?" The question is not, Is religion
precious? is salvation precious? is a holy life precious? "We may desire
all these, and feel them to be precious, without looking up to Christ
himself, and saying, "He is precious"-—the living, personal,
ever-present Saviour! How are we to gain clearer views of His
preciousness? This is an important question for all: for I suppose no
one will say that he knows enough of the value of Christ. "Unto you
which believe He is precious." We must believe if we would
love. A faithless heart cannot lay hold of the beauty of Christ—a
careless, worldly heart passes by this great sight; it is too full of
other guests to have room for Jesus. But where there is that faith which
is the work of God's Spirit in the heart, there cannot but be a spirit
of love to Him who is the object of such a faith. Without Him the sinner
sees himself lost. In Him, and in His finished work, is the beginning
and the ending of every good hope that can support him in this life by
leading him to a better. Let us believe in Him now, and He will
be precious; let us believe in Him more and more, and He
will be more precious.
"Revive our drooping faith,
Our doubts and fears remove;
And kindle in our breasts the flame
Of never-dying love!"
"What shall I render unto the Lord for all his
benefits toward me?"—Ps. cxvi. 12.
This is that outpouring of the heart, under the sense
of God's great mercy, which leads to new obedience. The man no longer
seeks to render something that may win for him the favour of the Lord,
as if any human effort could win pardon and salvation! But because God
has first loved him, and has given him the unspeakable gift of His own
dear Son, the heart is changed in its whole nature, and longs to become
a living sacrifice of love to its God; the power of new life is
given, with the faith of what Christ is to us; and it is the work of the
Holy Spirit to renew, and raise, and sanctify the soul, so that it may
be enabled to glorify God. We ought often to ask ourselves the question,
''What shall I render, what do I render unto the Lord?" Are we
rendering Him returns of ingratitude, of coldness and carelessness in
His service ? or are we rendering Him the service of willing hearts and
devoted minds? Our best is all unworthy of His acceptance, and we can
but ask Him for more benefits—more faith, more love, more grace,
more zeal in His work. Then may we say, "Of Thine own have we rendered
"Cleansed in Thine own all-purifying Hood,
Forgive their evil and accept their good;
I cast them at Thy feet, my only plea
Is what it was—dependence upon Thee!"
"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the
goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." —Ps. xxvii. 13.
Many a Christian may use these words of David, and
say, as he looks back on the rough places of his pilgrimage, "There,
because of my sins, I had fainted; there again, through fears of the
future, I had fainted; through bereavements, through afflictions,
through spiritual darkness, through sore temptations, a hundred times I
had fainted, unless I had believed! Not only I had fainted, I would even
have died in the way, but for this belief that I would yet see
the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!" Faith cures
fainting; faith holds fast by the goodness of the Lord; none of our
own sins or sorrows can touch that; and faith believes that it
will be yet displayed, not in heaven only, but now, even here,
"in the land of the living." Let me remember this when trouble comes,
wave upon wave, so that it seems as if there was never more to be
happiness in this world. Then is the time for faith to speak, and to
tell of changeless love and boundless goodness, which, though hidden for
a time, shall yet shine out from behind the clouds, and, even in the
land of the living, shall be seen and enjoyed by the believing soul.
"Paint not, Christian, though the road
Leading to thy blest abode Darksome be, and dangerous too,
Christ, thy Guide, shall bear thee through."
"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for
the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient
unto the day is the evil thereof."—Matt. vi. 34.
Our Lord repeatedly warns His followers against
taking anxious thought for the morrow. He points to the birds of the air
and the lilies of the field, and draws from them the sweet lesson of
simple trust which, alas ! we are so slow to learn—"Take no thought for
the morrow." "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these
things;" therefore by anxious care we dishonour our Lather, and doubt
either His power or His willingness to provide for His children. Our
Saviour's exhortations are necessary not for those only who gain their
daily bread with difficulty, for the rich as well as the poor are far
too prone to take anxious thought for the morrow, and heap to themselves
cares of various kinds, which engross them to the exclusion of due care
for their souls; and thus the thorns spring up and choke the seed of the
Word in the field of their hearts. Lord, deliver us from those thorns !
May we remember that "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof;" and
if inclined to fear that the evil will be more than sufficient,
may we remember the other word of promise, "As thy day so shall thy
strength be!" Alas! how many have lost the blessing of quiet peace all
their lives, merely by anticipating evil! They have suffered not
from what actually came, but from what they feared might one day
"Does each day upon its wing
Its allotted burden bring?
Load it not besides with sorrow
That belongeth to the morrow.
Strength is promised, strength is given,
Where the heart by God is riven;
But foredate the day of woe,
And alone thou bear'st the blow."
"He knew all men, and needed not that any should
testify of man : for He knew what was in man."—John ii. 24, 25.
And He knows now what is in man! Every
thought, every motive, every passion, every feeling is known to Him; and
yet He bears with us, listens to us, and answers our prayers! Nay,
bestows ten thousand bless-ings we neither asked nor acknowledged. How
marvellous is the long-suffering, how wonderful the patience and the
forbearance of the Holy One! Conscience tells me that I have thought far
too much of the human eyes that were upon me—far too little of the
divine eye, the all-seeing eye of the holy God. It was the sin of the
Pharisees that they did their good deeds to be seen of men. May
the Lord deliver me from this spirit! There are many things to foster it
in the present day, when there is much outward action and zealous effort
in the cause of religion; for these may draw the soul away from that
communion with God in secret in which its true life consists. Let me
beware of distractions in that secret service of God which no eye sees
but His own; and, remembering that He knows what is in man, let me seek
to be without guile before Him. ''I know thy works."
"Mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an
heavy burden they are too heavy for me."— Ps. xxxviii. 4.
"The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us
all."—Isa. liii. 6.
I have observed that Christians differ very much from
each other, and vary at different times themselves in the feeling of the
load of sin. Not that a child of God can ever be indifferent, or have
no sorrow for sin, but the sense of it as a burden is
different in different minds, and in the same mind at different times.
Sometimes the Lord shews us what is in our hearts in a fearful manner,
and we start back appalled with the dark sight; so that, unless the Lord
also shews how He has laid on Christ the iniquity of our sins, we would
sink in despair. Such minds as those of the holy Henry Martyn and David
Brainerd were deeply exercised in this way; and the record of their
searchings of heart and profound humiliation for sin ought to be very
instructive to us, in shewing us how hateful to a holy mind the presence
of sin is. But sometimes such records produce a hurtful effect. They may
make those who have never felt such deep sorrows fear that they have
never gone to Christ at all; while it may be that the constitution of
their minds is naturally different, and they may be of those who, like
Bunyan's pilgrim, having once got sight of the Cross, their burden has
fallen from them into the sepulchre, to be seen no more. The more we
know Christ, and truly love Him, the more we shall truly know ourselves
and hate our sin. O Lord, grant that my confessions may be genuine
and my sorrow for sin real before Thee; and when I see my
guilt, may I also see it forgiven through Christ's atoning blood!
"A little while, and ye shall not see me: and
again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the
Father."—John xvi. 16.
The disciples could not understand this declaration,
and only knew that it meant for them some great, undefined sorrow in
separation from their beloved Master. But Jesus graciously gave them the
explanation they shrank from asking, and tells how the sorrow of parting
was to precede the birth of joy, when He says— "I will see you again,
and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." And
so He says now, for the comfort of His people, "I will see you again."
He will see them, and they shall see Him face to face. That is heaven!
"The little while" of separation shall soon be past: it is but a little
while at the longest—very little, indeed, compared with the great
eternity. We are not to wonder if we have sorrow now; we are " absent
from the Lord" while present in the body; and the more our hearts
are filled with love, the more shall we long for the day of His
appearing and glory. May He give us grace to spend the "little while" of
our pilgrimage here to His praise, and in His service!