"I beseech you
therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your
bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your
reasonable service."—Rom. xii. 1.
"The mercies of God,"—it is
by them that the Apostle beseeches us. Let us, then, if we would feel the
force of his appeal, reflect what God's mercies have been, and now are, to
us individually. Mercies!—surely all His dealings with us are mercies, for
what have we deserved but miseries at His hand? "It is of the Lord's
mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not." The
word "mercy" speaks to us of our lost condition; it reminds us of the way
in which God has provided salvation and life for poor sinners, even
through His greatest gift of mercy, the gift of His own dear Son. And
having once been made partakers of His grace, all God's ways with us are
ways of mercy. Mercy pardons us, and mercy purifies; the Holy Spirit is
sent down. "According to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of
regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." And to those who are thus
saved and washed, all God's gifts, from the promised gift of a mansion
prepared in heaven, down to the present gifts of food and raiment here on
earth, are mercies which call on us continually to present our bodies a
living sacrifice unto God.
"Let us, with a gladsome
Praise the Lord, for He is kind;
For His mercies shall endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure."
"I will pray the
Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide
with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot
receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know
him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."—John xiv. 16, 17.
He who was ''a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief," knew the heart of man and the wants
of man, when He promised a Comforter! The name speaks to the broken heart;
it tells of sym pathy, and of such a sympathy as can not only feel with,
but effectually relieve and powerfully sustain the mourning spirit. This
Comforter will abide for ever with those whom He comforts ; this is
Christ's own promise—why are Christians so slow to believe it, so doubtful
that He can and will comfort His people even to the end? Is it not because
there is so much of the world in them? He has told us that the world
cannot receive this Spirit of Truth, this blessed Comforter; and in
proportion to our freedom from the spirit of the world, will be our power
to receive the Spirit of Christ into our heart.
"Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
Bringing peace and bringing love,
Take me and possess me whole,
Form the Saviour in my soul.
"Be my true and constant
In my fainting heart abide;
All the grace of God reveal,
And each precious promise seal."
"He made the stars
also."—Gen. i. 16. "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy
fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is
man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou
visitest him?"—Ps. viii. 3, 4.
There is something truly
sublime in the manner in which the sacred historian tells, in these few
and simple words, of the creation of all those great and wonderful
heavenly bodies that are so inconceivably beyond our earth in magnitude
and splendour. Science has opened the eye of man to marvels which were
never dreamed of in the days of Moses and of David; but they tell us what
science could never have told of the Hand Divine that "made the stars
also." Unaided by human philosophy, David could yet see mighty wonders in
the midnight sky. When he considered the heavens in their glory and
beauty, he saw the work of the finger of God; in their perfect regularity
he saw that they were ordained by God; and the thought overwhelmed him
with amazement when he remembered that such a God was mindful of man! He
perceived something of that Infinite to which nothing is little, because
nothing is too great. And, while gaining a new view of the great Creator's
power, he saw something more than he had ever seen of the love of God to
man. What is "the son of man that thou visitest him?"
"Thy gracious eye survey'd
Ere stars were seen above.
In wisdom hast Thou made us,
And died for us in love!"
"Behold, I go forward,
but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him."—Job
"Unto the upright there
ariseth light in the darkness." —Ps. cxii. 4. The upright are, then,
sometimes left in the darkness for a while. It is not always clear
sunshine with their souls. Sometimes they cry out like Job in his bitter
complaint, for they cannot find their Lord, nor trace His ways; yet Job
had faith that it would all come right at last with him; "he knoweth the
way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Ver.
10.) Thus he " trusted in the Lord when he could not trace him," and the
faith of the patriarch, in those dim and ancient days, may well be an
example and encouragement to many a Christian now, living under a clearer
light, yet often falling under the shadow of as deep a darkness. He may
trust that he shall not be always thus left; and, like Job, he may believe
that, when the trial hath done its work, he shall come forth as gold. But
let us not, by any carelessness or wilful neglect of our God, wander into
this darkness of our own accord; we shall not, in that case, be able to
plead this promise to "the upright;" nor do we know that, from such a
self-imposed trial, we shall come forth as gold. "But ah! my inward spirit
cries, Still bind me to Thy sway, Else the next cloud that veils the skies
Drives all these thoughts away."
"The Lord is my
shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to he down in green pastures:
he lead-eth me beside the still waters."—Ps. xxiii. 1, 2.
What a lovely picture does
this psalm present to us ! what a perfect image does it convey of the
peace and security that the believer enjoys in his God! He knows who it is
that takes care of him ; it is no earthly shepherd, but the Lord;
therefore he may well say, "I shall not want," for the power and the love
of the infinite God are on his side. We naturally connect this psalm with
the words of our Saviour, (John x. 11,) "I am the good shepherd: the good
shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." Thus the gospel shews us how it
is that the sheep are so blessed; their pastures are green, and they are
led by still waters; their wandering souls are restored; and guilty as
they were, they shall dwell in God's house for ever, even because their
Shepherd, "the good Shepherd, giveth His life for the sheep." Let us
cleave closely to Him; let us seek our pastures from Him; let us not be
tempted astray by the world with its vanities, nor suppose that our souls
can be nourished by any system of opinions or doctrines that leaves Him
out, " Shepherd of Thy little flock! Lead me to the shadowing rock, Where
the richest pasture grows, Where the living water flows. By that pure and
silent stream, Shelter'd from the scorching beam, Shepherd, Saviour,
Guardian, Guide I Keep me ever near Thy side."
"I will raise them up a
Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my
words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall
command him."—Deut. xviii. 18.
There could not have been a
higher honour to Moses than to be thus told that the promised Messiah was
to be a Prophet like unto him; but probably he had but a very dim idea of
the glorious Saviour of whom he was the type. It is good to meditate on
the way in which our Lord fulfilled all the various types by which He was
in former days revealed, that we may see how in every part of His work for
us "it pleased the Father that in Him all fulness should dwell." Thus He
is now our only Prophet; He reveals to us by His Word and Spirit the will
of God for our salvation, and to Him alone must we look. In Him is the
fulfilment of the prophetic, as well as of the priestly and kingly
dispensations; and He speaks to us not only in words written for our
learning in the Scriptures, but in all those dealings of His providence
which by His Holy Spirit are sanctified to our hearts. May I be found
continually looking to Him, and saying, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to
do?" "His word of promise is my food, His Spirit is my guide; Thus daily
is my strength renew'd, And all my wants supplied."
"I press toward the
mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."—Phil.
It was not with the Apostle
Paul a sudden effort, and then a pause—a fit of enthusiasm, and then a
long reaction of indolence. His life, and heart, and soul were given to
his Lord; and if there ever was in this world an earnest man it was he.
Alas ! how much easier is it to be earnest in trifles than to attain so
lofty an earnestness as his! I mourn when I think how diligent in business
I have been over a thousand passing vanities, and how slow and lukewarm in
the great concern. Oh for something of St Paul's spirit of zeal and ardour!
Nay, rather let me pray that the Holy Spirit, given unto all who ask,
would Himself animate my dull heart, and stir me up to follow St Paul, as
he followed Christ. He drew supplies of grace from a Fountain that can
never be exhausted, and is open to me as it was to him. Cease, then, my
heart, to rest satisfied with admiring the progress of another, and press
on for thyself, daily, hourly, till thou canst honestly say with this
apostle, "This one thing I do." One thing! He did many things for Christ;
but it was through the might of single-heartedness. "This one thing I do—I
press toward the mark."
"Still forget the things
Follow Christ in heart and mind;
Toward the mark unwearied press,
Seize the crown of righteousness."