"Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the
companions hearken to thy voice, cause me to hear it."—Sol. Song
There are those who in the upper sanctuary hearken
continually to His voice, angels and spirits of just men made perfect,
who dwell in His presence for ever. And there are those on earth—blessed
ones indeed—who dwell in such close communion with their Lord, that they
too seem ever to hear His voice; for He is willing to reveal Himself to
His own people, and the cloud that shuts Him out from shining on the
soul, is a cloud of man's own making, even unbelief, and
worldly-minded-ness and folly. He speaks in various ways ; in His word,
by His ordinances, by His providences ; and His sheep know His voice,
the voice of Him that spake as never man spake. Lord, this is my prayer:
Cause me to hear that voice, thou that dwellest in the gardens where the
trees of righteousness grow ; make me as one of the "companions"
who hearken to Thee, for the voices by which Thou makest Thyself known
are all silent to me, unless Thou openest my ears, and causest me to
"Yet could I hear Him once again
As I have heard of old,
Methinks He should not call in vain
His wanderer to the fold !"
"For I delivered unto you first of all, that
which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according
to the Scriptures."—1 Cob. xv. 3.
Our progress in the Christian life is to be
estimated, not so much by the number of new ideas and truths that
we acquire, as by the increasingly manifested power and presence in us
of a foundation-truth like this, "Christ died for our sins." Were we
like the Apostle, found " always bearing about in the body the dying of
the Lord Jesus," we might expect that assuredly the life of Jesus would
be manifested more in -us. In this great truth so many other truths lie
wrapped up! It is by contemplating this wonderful death of Christ the
Lord, that we learn the holiness of God, His hatred of sin, His
marvellous love to man, the wisdom of His great plan of redemption, and
the great eternal glory of Christ Himself, who became our Redeemer. And
while we learn these things concerning God and His ways, what an awful
lesson do we also learn of the exceeding evil of sin! Can anything so
convince us of the guilt of man as the death of the Son of God for our
sins ? Therefore, well might the Apostle, in his teaching, deliver this
great truth " first of all."
"By that rich and precious blood,
That hath made our peace with God,
Jesus, to Thy feet we flee,
Jesus, we will cling to Thee !"
"But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid."
—John vi. 20.
To the tempest-tossed disciples who loved their Lord,
there could not be a more comforting word than this; to the wicked, in
their distresses, there cannot be a more terrible one. The presence of
his Saviour is the believer's strongest consolation in his hour of
trial; one look from his Lord reassures his fainting spirit; "It is
I," is equivalent to "it is well," for with the Lord on his
side, all must be well to the eye of faith. "When Jesus says, "It
is I," He calls us to look away from second causes, and see His hand
working, even though it be in afflicting us; and when we have fully
recognised this, and have felt that it is not in anger, but for our
profit that He so deals with us, the bitterness is taken away, and a
sweet sense of His presence makes the spirit tender, humble, and lowly
before Him. Sickness and suffering are no longer felt to be intolerable
evils; even sore bereavement does not overwhelm the soul that feels the
Saviour to be a very present help.
But to the unbeliever, this "it is I" is the
very element of terror in his hour of suffering, for he hears in it the
voice of an offended God. 0 Saviour, may we so know Thee, and so love
Thee, that in all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth, no
voice may be so welcome to our hearts as this, "It is
"O Saviour, then in all my need
Be near, be near to me!
And let my soul by steadfast faith
Find life and heaven in Thee."
"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
not one."—Job xiv. 4.
Here lies the secret of the deep-rooted and
widespread disease of sin. It cleaves to every child of Adam, the
first sinful man; but when the blessed Jesus became man to save us, he
was born of a virgin, and "in him was no sin." Therefore, we may rejoice
in knowing that our load of sins is borne by a perfect Saviour; His
righteousness is a complete righteousness, and His atoning death for our
sakes was the death of the only acceptable sacrifice, a "Lamb without
blemish and without spot." How marvellous is the wisdom that devised
such a plan of salvation ! How wonderful the love that carried it into
execution! Well might the Apostle say, "O the depth of the riches, both
of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments,
and His ways past finding out!" Teach us, good Lord, to meditate, to
wonder, and to adore, and may the souls redeemed at such a price be more
and more filled with Thy love, and devoted to Thy service!
"What thanks I owe Thee, and what love,
A boundless, endless store,
Shall echo through the realms above,
When time shall be no more !"
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols."— 1
John v. 21.
Let us pray, "Lord, keep us from idols ! Teach us not
to love less those whom thou hast given us, but to love Thee
morel Suffer us not to worship the gifts rather than the Giver!
Above all, keep us from making an idol of self, the most
tyrannical of all idols, hateful alike to God and to man!"
How prone is the heart to idolatry ! much as we blame
the Israelites, and marvel at their repeated returns to the worship of
one base idol after another, we are in no condition ourselves to throw
the first stone at them—we whose hearts have so often turned aside after
false gods. The Lord our God is a jealous God; He will not suffer us to
worship any idol while professing to serve Him alone. He chastened His
people of old as often as they went thus astray, and in very
faithfulness He chastens His people now ! How many a mother can point to
little graves, and say, "There li my idols ! " and how many a saint in
heaven is now blessing God, that even by sorrows like these, He led them
to worship Himself alone !
"The dearest idol I have known, Whate'er that idol
be, Help me to tear it from Thy throne, And worship only Thee!
"Then shall my walk be close with God;
Calm and serene my frame,
Then clearer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb."
"Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own
heart upon your bed, and be still."— Ps. iv. 4.
"My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips ;
when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night
watches."— Ps. lxiii. 5, 6.
There are few who have not had some experience of
wakeful nights, at least there are few who have reached middle age
without this knowledge ; and the Psalmist, who gives us thoughts for all
seasons, has not forgotten to provide for the night hours also. He tells
us how he employed his sleepless moments, praising his God with joyful
lips in the darkness; and how sweetly would the night pass with us if
thus employed, when sickness or anxiety drives our slumbers away; how
would it calm the mind, and still the feverish restlessness of the hour
if we could thus rise above earth to our God, and think over all His
mercies, and sing His praise in heart if not with our voice! But another
duty is presented to the wakeful mind, "Commune with your own heart upon
your bed, and be still." Night is the time for thought, for solemn
searching of our souls before God, when freed from the distractions of
busy daylight; O may such moments be thus employed by me, and then, if
deprived of sleep, I shall not need to repine, for the want will be more
than compensated by the rest of the soul in God.