"Teach me thy way, O Lord; unite my heart to fear
thy name."—Ps. Ixxxvi. 11.
"Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty."—Hosea x,
"No man can serve two masters."—Matt. vi. 24.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world ; if
any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."—1
John ii. 15.
"I the Lord thy God am a jealous God."—Exod. xx. 5.
If we would he the servants of God, we must serve Him
with undivided hearts, and ceasing to listen to the voice of the
tempter, we must give ourselves up to God alone. But here we find
continually how deeply sin is rooted into our nature; the apostle says,
"I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind,"
and as long as we live the strife will continue in a greater or less
degree. Blessed be God we have the promise of His Holy Spirit to dwell
in us and renew our wills, so that if Christ be in us, " the body is
dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness." O
Lord, do Thou thus; by Thy Holy Spirit, daily renew my heart, and enable
me to give myself wholly to Thee, a living sacrifice, a "reasonable
"Renew my will from day to day,
Blend it with Thine, and take away
All that now makes it hard to say,
' Thy will be done.'
And when on earth I breathe no more,
The prayer, oft mix'd with sin before,
I'll sing upon a happier shore,
'Thy will be done.'"
'I have declared my ways, and Thou heardest me;
teach me Thy statutes."—Ps. cxix. 26.
Here is the communion of the believing soul with God
; here is true confession. The heart opens itself to its God, and
declares, without guile, all its ways and its wanderings, under a very
realising feeling of the presence and nearness of the heart-searching
One, who is of " purer eyes than to behold iniquity." How needful is
this confession! How blessed is the forgiveness that follows it! How
does it lift the load from the heart, and restore peace to the
conscience sprinkled with the atoning blood. " If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness." " Faithful and just to forgive!" these are
wonderful words. Sinners might rather have expected that if forgiveness
were named at all, it would have been joined with the words " merciful
and compassionate," but no! He is faithful and just to the covenant by
which, through His own great goodness, He has said, that " the blood of
Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." With such
encouragements, then, to confess our sins, let us not shrink from laying
our souls open before Him and declaring our ways. He hears us, not to
punish but to cleanse ; and when once washed from our guilt, we may go
on to ask a still further boon, and say, "Teach me Thy statutes."
"Proclaim salvation from the Lord,
For wretched dying men;
His hand has writ the sacred word
With an immortal pen."
"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity
of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour
which he taketh under the sun?"—Eccles. i. 2.
"To be carnally minded is death, but to be
spiritually minded is life and peace."—Rom. viii. 6.
The teaching of the apostle may throw some light upon
the melancholy teaching of the Preacher, with his sad burden, "vanity of
vanities." To be carnally minded, seeking the things under the sun as
the portion of our souls, is death, and therefore is felt to be
vanity, even by the unrenewed heart, which does not know the
secret of its own deep and unsatisfied longings ; it feels the want, but
knows not why it feels it; and the larger that heart and mind is, the
greater seems the void, as an empty palace seems more desolate than an
empty cottage. Again we have a new thought in connexion with this, in
the following verse of St Paul's reasoning, "because the carnal mind is
enmity against God;" how can there be anything but death,
where there is enmity against Him who is the Life? But to be
"spiritually minded is life and peace;" here we have the cure.
Therefore, the more spiritually minded we become, the less shall we be "
subject to vanity," for we shall have life and peace in a living
"Joy is a fruit that will not grow
In nature's barren soil;
All we can boast till Christ we know
Is vanity and toil.
But where the Lord has planted grace
And made His glories known,
There fruits of heavenly joy and peace
Are found, and there alone!"
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am
meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For
my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."—Matt. xi. 29, 30.
It is by learning of Jesus, and by becoming, like
Him, meek and lowly in heart, that those who labour and are heavy laden
find rest to their souls. They not only find rest from the burden of
their sins, which they cast upon. Him, but they find another kind of
rest, in the change of character produced by taking His yoke and His
light burden, the meek and lowly heart. A proud spirit can never be a
partaker of Christ's rest, because it does not stoop to His yoke, and
the very nature of His rest requires in the receiver a Christlike
spirit. How truly do we see in life that it is the meek and lowly ones,
and not the proud, who enjoy rest in their souls. Grant unto me, Lord,
Thine own grace of meekness! contrary as it is to all the maxims of a
proud overbearing world, it yet wins the victory; for by being humble,
thankful, and contented with God's will, the meek " inherit the
earth," even now, in their passage to the kingdom of heaven!
"Lowly, my heart, be lowly!
So God shall dwell with thee;
It is the meek and patient
Who shall exalted be.
Deep in the valley rest
The Spirit's gifts most holy;
And they who seek are blest,
Therefore, my heart, be lowly!"
"These things have I spoken unto you, that in me
ye might have peace. In the world ye shall
have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the
world."—John xvi. 33.
Jesus would have His disciples to be possessed of the
great blessing of peace. He does not desire that they should remain
unsatisfied, "ever learning, and never able to come to the
knowledge of the truth,"—always in the attitude of eager, restless
seekers, striving after a peace which they never attain. He has spoken
words of life and truth for the very purpose of bringing His disciples
to the knowledge of truth and the enjoyment of peace in Him ; and they
need this peace, for "in the world," He says, "ye shall have
tribulation;" and it is only by a close, life-giving, peace-giving
union with their Lord, that they can, in Him, overcome the
world. Peace with the world is not the Christian's peace; he
looks higher for his soul's satisfying rest; and when he reads the
blessed words of Jesus—the promises made by Him to those who abide
in Him—the assurance that their prayers in His name shall be
granted—the gift of the Comforter promised, and the love of the Father
himself revealed—he knows and understands how it was that Jesus spoke
these things to strengthen His followers amidst the world's tribulation,
by a peace in Him which the world could neither give nor take away.
"Though faith and hope are often tried,
We ask not,
need not, aught beside;
So safe, so calm, so satisfied,
The souls that
cling to Thee!"
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the
Father,) full of grace and truth."—John i. 14.
What a mystery is here! " Great is the mystery
of godliness: God manifest in the flesh." May I reverently adore and
admire the wondrous revelation of God made known to us in Christ. May I
contemplate the Saviour as God and as man, till I behold something of
His glory, not like the highly-favoured apostle, with the bodily eye,
but with the eye of a clear and firm faith. May I learn to meditate on
His glory, for what subject can be so worthy of devout meditation? He
does not hide Himself from us; no, He rather invites to a closer and
nearer view of His glorious character and work, for He, when on earth,
"dwelt among us,"—"full of grace and truth;" the wonderful parenthesis
which separates this verse reveals to us, that it was not alone the
glory of Jesus which His apostles beheld—not only the glory of a perfect
human character, but the glory of Divinity— "the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father."
"Sweeter sounds than music knows
Charm me in Emmanuel's name;
All her hopes my spirit
To His birth, and cross, and shame.
When He came the
'Glory be to God on high!'
Lord, unloose my
Who should louder sing than I?"
"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."—
Sol. Song vi. 3.
If we can in any measure adopt the language of
Christ's Church and say this for ourselves, why do we not rejoice
more in our Lord? Why do we go mourning if Christ is ours? Why do
thoughts of present troubles and past trials weigh so heavily upon our
spirits? There is a strength and a love in Christ of which we have but
caught a faint glimpse—let us seek a fuller view. The apostle speaks of
being "sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing." Why may not this rejoicing be
ours if Christ is ours ? Let us not rest in a dull, cold, apathetic
state, forfeiting the rich inheritance of present as well as
future happiness which the favour of God secures to His believing children. "All things are
yours,"—"things present, or things to come; all are yours ; and ye are
Christ's, and Christ is God's!"
"Soul, then know thy full salvation,
Rise o'er sin, and fear, and care,
Joy to find in
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit
dwells within thee!
Think what Father's smiles are thine!
Jesus died to win thee—
Child of heaven, canst thou repine?"
'Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and
done this evil in Thy sight."—Ps. li. 4.
This is the thought that brings conviction of sin
home to the heart. This is the arrow that is " sharp in the heart of the
King's enemies," and in the heart of the King's subjects too when He
sets their sin before them. Therefore, those who have lived the holiest
lives have often had the deepest views of their sin, because they have
looked into their own hearts, and seen there what God's eye has seen,
sin against Him! And when His love has been revealed, nothing gives
such pain as the thought, that " against Thee," such a God as
Thou art, I have sinned! It may be that the sin is grievous before men
also, as was David's ; but however painful the sense of humiliation
before others may be, it is nothing to the sense of having so offended
God, " Thee only!" Oh to have a conscience truly alive to heart
sins, and truly humbled for those secret departures from God, which He
only sees ! But, Lord, grant me also a deep acquaintance with the
fulness of forgiveness purchased by the blood of Christ, for nothing is
so dreadful as the sight of sin without the sight of the Saviour!
"My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine,
While as a penitent I
And there confess my sin.
My soul looks back
The burdens Thou didst bear,
While hanging on the
And trusts her guilt was there."
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou
hast given me, be with me where I am ; that they may behold my glory,
which thou hast given me, for thou lovedst me before the foundation of
the world."—John xvii. 24.
This is the prayer of Jesus, and the will of Jesus
concerning His own people ; and. every time that He takes away one of
them from earth to heaven, we may see the fulfilment of this " I will."
This is a thought that ought to be very soothing to us when one of His
own beloved ones is thus taken from us ; it is because Jesus would have
them to be with Him, where He is, that He may shew them that which they
have longed to behold—His glory—the surpassing glory which God, in His
eternal love, has given to His well-beloved Son. How changed is the
aspect of death, when we behold in it the hand of One who loves us
beckoning us to come into His presence, and be with Him where He is! We
know, indeed, little of the nature of the happiness prepared for God's
children above, but we have here revealed the most important element in
it—they are to be with Him, and no glory could satisfy them
without that; therefore this point is always so distinctly set forth
as being the joy of heaven—"so shall we ever be with the
Lord,"—"we shall see Him as He is!"