"The foundation of God standeth sure, having this
seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that
nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."— 2 Tim. ii. 19.
Blessed truths ! " The Lord knoweth them that are
His," not one of the least of them is forgotten by Him: how encouraging
is this thought! And not less encouraging is the other side of the seal,
the side by which men know those that bear it; for it is
strengthening and encouraging to those who long for holiness in a wicked
world, to know that it is Sis will that every one that nameth the
name of Christ should depart from iniquity. Holiness is the mark by
which He would have His people to be known; by uniting them to Himself
He would make them "depart from iniquity." Let us pray, " Set me as a
seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm;"
bring me so near to thee that I may be plainly stamped as thine,
stamped with the image and superscription of the King ! Naming thy holy
name, may I depart from all iniquity in thought, word, and deed, and may
thy Holy Spirit so renew my nature, that I may be conformed to thine
image, and made meet for thy glory!
"Thine image, Lord, bestow,
Thy presence and Thy love;
I ask to serve Thee here below,
And reign with Thee above!'
"In all things approving ourselves as the
ministers of God, in much patience."—2 Cor. vi. 4.
"Be patient toward all men."—1 Thess. v. 14.
"Much patience!" how necessary is this grace! How
needful for the minister of Christ! How needful for every Christian who
tries to labour in the Lord's vineyard! It is not easy to exercise this
patience aright, for we are too apt to grow weary in well-doing,
and to give ear to the discouraging whispers of our great adversary, who
tells us that we are but labouring in vain. It may be that years pass
away without unfolding any fruit of our work; we may have to encounter
opposition from some, and coldness from others, yet, if we would possess
the mind of Christ, we must seek to follow His footprints here also, and
"be patient toward all men;" we must learn to bear with men if we would
bring them to God; we must seek to be patient with dull children
in schools, remembering how slow we have been in learning Christ's
lessons; and with ignorant, careless, or frivolous people in our efforts
to improve them, remembering that none are too ignorant or careless to
become subjects of His grace, and heirs of eternal life. Lord, teach us
to be patient, remembering how patient Thou hast been with us!
"Lord, who hast suffered all for me,
My peace and pardon to procure,
The lighter cross I bear for Thee,
Help me with patience to endure!"
"Having a desire to depart, and to be with
Christ."—Phil. i. 23.
To be with Christ, this is the idea of the
Apostle in connexion with his departure ; this is the thought that makes
him desire it. He does not long to have done with a world where
he had suffered so much; he does not think of rest; he only
thinks of being with Christ. And if we are Christ's, what a
thought should this be to us also ! That we shall one day see Jesus!
That we shall fall down before Him, and cry, Worthy is the Lamb !
That we shall see the hands that were pierced; the head that was crowned
with thorns; and hear the voice that is "as the sound of many waters"
speaking to us, calling us by name! These are, indeed,
transporting thoughts, and we ought to cherish them, and endeavour to
keep before our minds hopes of so purifying and elevating a nature. For
the heart that longs to be with Jesus hereafter, cannot but long to he
conformed to His image here; and that communion with Him, which the hope
of being with Him inspires, will be not only the best joy of the
Christian's life, but the best preparation for his passage to eternal
life through the "grave and gate of death."
"Then shall my disimprisoned soul
Behold Him and adore;
Be with His likeness satisfied,
And grieve and sin no more."
"The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I
cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the
flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the
word of our God shall stand for ever."—Isa. xl. 6-8.
Solemn, awful, intensely mournful voice! how utterly
desolate would be the heart that heard that cry, unless amidst the
withering of every earthly hope, something had been presented to the
mind, which no change of time, or decay of age can affect:—"the word of
God shall stand for ever!" Here, then, we may rest secure. Here there is
no instability, no perishableness. The word shall stand; the living Word
made flesh, and revealed in Christ Jesus, shall abide for ever; and we,
if united to Him by living faith, have that in us which
is not fading like the grass or the flower of the
field, but abideth for ever. In Him is life ; in union with Him is our
life ; let this thought comfort us in those days of darkness, when some
sore bereavement presses upon our hearts the sad truth of the fleeting
nature of every earthly joy, and the only so and in our ears is that of
the voice that says, "Cry, all flesh is grass!" Yes, but hear another
voice; "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the
Spirit of God dwell in you!"
"Only the mortal frame can fade and die,
All that is worthy of a Spirit's love
Shall cleave to us throughout eternity-
Shall dwell with us in far bright worlds above.
Here if pains, partings, sorrows, cares molest,
Swift flight is ours, before us lies our rest!"
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man
lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do
whatsoever I command you." —John xv. 13, 14.
No man can show greater love than by dying for his
friends; but Christ's love was shown in that He laid down His life, not
for His friends, but His enemies! "God commendeth his love towards us,
in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." He died to make
His enemies His friends; and here He teaches His disciples that it is
not to the place of servants, but to that of friends that He has
called them: "Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant
knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you
friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have
made known unto you." He has brought His people near to Him; into
a place of confidence and love, not of hireling servitude. And we are
expected to do His will, and serve His cause far better as friends than
we could as servants. The servant who has his master's interest at heart
is said to be more a friend than a servant; he loves his Master
more than his master's wages; he works in a friendly, not in a
servile spirit; and it is this which Jesus looks for in those whom he
deigns to call His friends. O Lord, bestow on us a spirit worthy of the
high place to which thou callest thy people!
"To those who know the Lord I speak,
Is my Beloved near?
The Bridegroom of my soul I seek,
Oh, when will He appear?
"Grace flies before and love attends
His steps where'er He goes;
Though none can see Him but His friends,
And they were once His foes ! "
"Therefore, being justified by faith, we have
peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."— Rom. v. 1.
There may be true faith where, through many
infirmities, there is not a sense of peace; but there cannot be true
peace with God without faith: and perhaps the measure of peace enjoyed,
depends very much on the measure of faith in God, through Jesus Christ,
in whom is the covenant of our reconciliation and peace with God. The
great truth of justification by faith lays the foundation on which peace
is built, and on which all the graces of the Christian character are
built up. We do not know the thousandth part of our own guilt in God's
sight, if we suppose that true peace for our souls —the peace which
proceeds from pardon—can ever be found, except through believing
in Jesus Christ, and receiving Him as our atonement. If we indeed
believe, we ought to have peace; we should not rest content
without seeking to have some sense of this great blessing; it is in
the covenant for us; it is purchased for us, and has been promised
to us, and sin alone prevents us from enjoying it.