"The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage."- Psalm
Those who can say ''The Lord is the portion of mine
inheritance," may well say, "The lines are fallen to me in pleasant
places," whatever may be their outward condition or lot in life. The
contrast is often very striking between the Christian's inward peace and
outward struggle, for how often are " waters of a full cup wrung out to
him," and yet by the grace of God he is enabled to say, " None of these
things move me." It is of God's great mercy that we are often in
circumstances to say that even in this life " the lines are fallen unto
us in pleasant places;" but when it is otherwise with us, when sorrow,
pain, or anxiety darken our days, let us consider what it is to have the
Lord for our portion, and say if we would change our lot with that of
the most prosperous worldling whom we know ? He who is the Almighty God
is our Father and our Friend, and can more than make up to us for the
want of earthly joys. Let us repose in the thought of His love; what
portion can be so rich as this ? what earthly hopes so glorious as those
which He sets before us? Oh, may He so reveal Himself to our souls, that
we may be filled with joy and thankfulness for all that He has done for
us, and desire to give ourselves up unreservedly to His service!
"My soul's Restorer, let me learn
In Thy deep love to live and rest,
Let me the precious thing discern
Of which I am indeed possest.
My treasure let me feel and see;
And may my moments as they flee,
Unfold my endless life in Thee."
"Jesus knowing that the Father had given all
things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to
God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a
towel, and girded himself."—John xiii. 3, 4.
This marvellous act is prefaced by marvellous words,
most touching in their calm dignity; may the Lord enable us to feel
them, and to look aright upon Jesus in " the form of a servant." It
would be wonderful to see a king perform so lowly an office; but what is
an earthly king to Him, the King of kings, into whose hands the
Father hath given all things? And why did He stoop thus low? Not to
teach the lesson of humility alone, but to write upon the inmost hearts
of all who, like Peter, start back amazed at the sight, that other great
lesson, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." Yes, Lord, this
is indeed my case; I need Thy daily, Thine hourly washing—that washing
which Thou only canst bestow, and without which I can have no part with
Thee. Leave me not, in my guilty ignorance, to forget my continual need
of Thy cleansing blood. The work is finished, it is perfect, but unless
Thou apply it to me by Thy Spirit I can never be found among those who
have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
"There is a fountain fill'd with blood,
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains."
"He shall sit as the refiner and purifier of
silver." —Malachi iii. 3.
"I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge
away thy dross, and take away all thy tin."— Isaiah i. 25.
That which the Lord promises to do for His Church, He
will do for individual Christians also; and this consideration is truly
comforting to those who mourn their state, as all must do who look into
their own hearts and see how much dross is mingled with the gold, and
how much sin cleaves to their best thoughts and actions. The Lord is
faithful; "He shall sit as the Refiner"—He will work His own work in
them by His Holy Spirit, taking away, though it be by a fiery ordeal of
suffering, that which is so displeasing in His sight, that evil thing
sin. Oh, may we have courage and faith to ask Him to work
thus in our hearts; not sparing the "sin which doth so easily beset us,"
but enabling us to learn all the self-denying lessons of holiness which
He would have us to learn! Let us believe firmly in His love, when He
sees it good for us that He should chasten us; the furnace may be hot,
but He will not leave us too long in it, nor try us beyond measure, for
"the trial of our faith is much more precious than of gold that
perisheth, though it be tried in the fire." He watches while He tries
us, and is never so near as when He is taking away from us all those
evils which separate us from Himself! "
Love divine has seen and counted
Every tear it caused to fall;
And the storm which Love appointed
Was the choicest gift of all."
"Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying,
Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick."—John xi. 3.
It is so still; many of those whom He loves are sick.
"We see them suffering, sorrowing, groaning, dying, yet we cannot doubt
either His love to them or His power to heal them; why, then, are they
thus? We think that if we had the power none of those whom we love would
ever be sick, and when they are so we do all we can to heal them ; and
we are right in so doing. But the love of Jesus is deeper than
ours, and it is a far-seeing love. He knows, and those who have been
taught by Him know, how often the sickness of the body is the health of
the soul, and the weakness of the flesh the strength of the spirit; and
if we could ask the saints in glory what they now feel with regard to
their earthly sufferings, how many voices would cry, "It was good for me
that I was afflicted!" Let me learn faith and submission from the
example of those sisters, who were both, like their brother, loved of
Jesus. They tell Him their case in lowly confidence. They appeal to His
love. They believe in that Divine power to heal of which they had seen
so many proofs, but they do not say, "He is God, and knows all, why need
we tell Him ?" for they know that it is their part to go to Him with all
their wants; nor is their faith in His love shaken by this sickness. Let
me, like them, have faith for others as well as myself, and believe that
whether He sends sickness or health to His loved ones, "He doeth
all things well."
"And he said unto them, That the Son of man is
Lord also of the Sabbath."—Luke vi. 5.
This saying is given by three of the Evangelists,
shewing the importance they attached to it (as well they might) from its
containing the true Sabbath law. In St Mark it is accompanied with the
remarkable expression given as the reason for it—"He said unto them, The
Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath : therefore the
Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath," (Mark ii. 27.) Yes! it was made
for man, not for the Jews only, but for man everywhere; made for
him, not he for it; it is his privilege, his great blessing; he is not
to be its slave, as the Pharisees were. And because it was made for man,
"therefore, the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath;" it is His
day, the Lord's day; He may take what day of the week it pleases Him,
and He has taken the first day of the week, and He has made it the day
of rest for man, and He himself is Lord of it. Shall we not thank him
for it? Shall we not bless Him and praise Him for this blessed day, and
seek Him to come and make it to our souls all that He meant it to be for
man when He made it for man—no day of bondage, but a day of holy freedom
from the world and sin, a foretaste to us of the " rest that
remaineth for the people of God?"
"How welcome to the saints, when press'd
"With six days' noise, and care, and toil,
Is the returning day of rest
Which hides them from the world awhile?'
"He saved them from the hand of him that hated
them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. Then believed
they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works;
they waited not for his counsel."— Psalm cvi. 10, 12, 13.
How faithless and fickle is the human heart! How soon
do even the favoured Israelites forget what God has done. We might have
thought that such a deliverance as they had experienced would have at
once and for ever put to silence all unbelieving doubts concerning God's
power and will to bring them into the promised land; but we see that it
was far otherwise—"They soon forgat his works." Experience is not
faith, and will not stand in stead of faith. We are no better
than those Israelites by nature. What God does for us in merciful
preservations, unlooked-for recoveries from illness, escapes from great
dangers, is not sufficient to establish our hearts in His faith
and fear. Our faith requires a deeper foundation than this, or we shall
be found on the first moment of trial to have "forgotten His works, and
waited not for His counsel." His word of promise is a surer
foundation than anything in our past experience can be, though this too
may well afford us cause to praise Him, and such knowledge of His love
as ought to incline us to trust in Him.
"Shew me what I have to do,
Every hour my strength renew;
Let me live a life of faith,
Let me die Thy people's death."
"To this man will I look, even to him that is
poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."—Isa. lxvi.
"Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at
his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my
name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified : but he shall appear
to your joy, and they shall be ashamed."—Ver. 5.
A holy and reverent regard for the Word of God is
here the mark by which His people are described. It is pointed out as
the distinction between them and then-persecutors, who yet have the name
of the Lord on their lips, and say, even while hating their brethren,
and casting them out, " Let the Lord be glorified." May I be ever found
on the side of those who tremble at Thy Word, O my God! May I fear to
speak, or write, or think one slight or irreverent thought or word
concerning that holy Word of Thine whereby I shall be judged. And may I
not only fear, but love it. May I, like David, esteem it " better
unto me than thousands of gold and silver." It is not for me to cavil at
difficulties. Strange would it be were there none in a book sent from
the Infinite God to finite creatures so ignorant as we are ! The poor
and contrite spirit is too much in earnest to cavil. Be it mine not to
doubt but to tremble at Thy Word!
"Thus saith the high and lofty One that
inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and
holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the
contrite ones."—Isa. Ivii. 15.
Our God is infinite. We cannot understand what
that means, but this we may know, and understand, and exceedingly
rejoice to believe, that high as He is, He is not too high to behold us;
holy as He is, He is not too holy to pity us! There are heights in His
glory that the highest angels have never yet seen, "which things the
angels desire to look into," even the glories of His infinite grace in
the salvation of sinners. Let us think of His greatness, that we may be
lost in wonder at His condescension; "What is man that thou art mindful
of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?" Even because He is so
great, so infinitely exalted, we may rest secure that He will fulfil all
His promises,—" God is not a man that he should lie." Oh that He may
find in me that contrite and humble spirit which He loves—a heart
emptied of self and sin, lifting up its gates that the King of glory may
enter in !. Then, as the ocean tide which heaves the broad Atlantic, and
yet does not forget to fill all the crystal pools by the shore, so shall
He who "inhabiteth eternity" come in His abundant grace to '' revive the
spirit of the humble!"
"Come then Thyself! To every heart
The glory of Thy name make known;
The means are our appointed part,
The power and grace are Thine alone."
"My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech
shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and
as the showers upon the grass."—Deut. xxxii. 2.
"As the rain cometh down, and the snow from
heaven, .... so shall my word be."—Isa. lv. 10, 11.
How lovely and how precious is the silent dew after
the scorching heat of the summer day! How gratefully does the earth send
up its tribute of fragrance through the soft evening air, and leaves,
and grass, and flowers, revive beneath the refreshing drops of pearly
moisture! Precious as this gift of heaven is to us in our green island
of the ocean, it is still more so to the inhabitant of the parched
countries of the East, and the image in these verses must have come home
with wonderful power to those whose life and daily bread depended so
much on seasonable, yet often precarious, supplies of rain and dew from
above. Let me strive to enter into the feeling with which such a one
regarded these blessings, and ask myself, "Is the word of His grace like
the dew to thee? Does His doctrine drop as the rain to refresh thee? And
is its sweet influence making thee ' bring forth and bud,' even as a
well-watered garden, to thy Lord's praise? Oh, thou canst not too
earnestly watch, seek, pray, thirst for those showers of blessing, the
Holy Spirit's own gift, without which thou art but a barren desert, a
fruitless garden, a desolate wilderness!"