"Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father,
and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time
with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?"—John xiv. 8, 9.
Jesus may have been near us—may have been in the
midst of us for long years—and yet, like Philip, we may have never known
Him, till He has Himself suddenly withdrawn the veil from our eyes, and
taught us the mighty lesson, " He that hath seen me hath seen the
Father." Philip had seen the works, and heard the words of Him who spake
as never man spake; he had followed the Lord when to do so was perilous;
he had brought another to follow Him, even Nathanael, with the words,
"Come and see," John i. 46; and yet this great truth lay all hidden from
his own eyes, till the prayer, "Show us the Father," brought
forth the revelation now made. And it is thus that Jesus sometimes deals
still with men; some He gladdens at once with a revelation of His
glorious person and character; but to others He reveals truth by slow
degrees, leading them on patiently in all their ignorance, till of a
sudden they long for a fuller light, and the veil is taken from their
eyes. Then they know Jesus; then they feel that He is indeed
their God; the words He speaks are their Father's words, and they
rejoice in their adoption as children of God.
"Strangers now no more to roam,
In our Father's house at home
Sons and daughters may we be,
One with Jesus, one with Thee !"
"I will walk at liberty; for I seek thy
precepts."—Ps. cxix. 45.
"Uphold me with thy free Spirit."—Ps. li. 12.
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is
liberty." —2 Cor. iii. 17.
How glorious is the liberty of the child of God ! He
is a paradox which the world cannot understand. He is set free, in order
that he may serve, but in that service is perfect freedom, a freedom
which he never knew till he became the Lord's servant! "Thy free
Spirit," a beautiful expression; Thy Spirit, free in His
workings, free in His power, freely given, and setting the soul free;
uphold me with Thy free Spirit! The grace of God is free ; may we
receive it as it is offered, feeling that we have nothing to give,
nothing that we can return to Him, but hearts which He must Himself
renew. O may we highly prize, and jealously guard this noble Christian
freedom which God's free Spirit bestows!
May it neither fall into the licentiousness of Anti-nomianism,
nor be lost in the bondage of outward ceremonies! While we "walk at
liberty," let it be because we "seek thy precepts;" it is in seeking to
be holy that we shall be made free from the greatest of all slavery, the
slavery to which that of the body is a light yoke, the slavery of
"He is the freeman whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves beside! There's not a chain
That hellish foes, confederate for his harm,
Can cast around him, but he throws it off
With as much ease as Samson his green withes."
"Be content with such things as ye have; for he
hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."—Heb. xiii. 5.
Blessed voice of comfort from Him who alone can give
true comfort! May I ever listen to it; nor turn aside in the hour of
trial to seek consolation from any broken cistern, while this Fountain
of living waters is so freely offered. "He hath said, I will
never leave thee." "Who is it that speaks thus? it is the Lord himself
who created and redeemed me; it is He who hath bought me with a price,
even the precious blood of Christ; is not His presence life, and
His loving-kindness better than life? Let me beware of turning
away from this sunshine, or raising a cloud of earthly cares between my
soul and my soul's light; discontent is such a cloud, and the
apostle warns against it; may I watch against the faintest approach of
any such feeling, and learn to be content with whatever He sends, even
though sickness, poverty, or affliction may be in my cup.
"Why should sorrow overcome me?
If of Christ
I am possest,
Who can take Him from me?
"Who can rob me of the heaven
God's own Son
For me hath won,
And by Faith hath given?"
"I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded
within me."—Ps. cix. 22.
"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up
their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them
all by their names."—Ps. cxlvii. 3, 4.
There are heart wounds which no human eye can see, no
human hand can cure. How tenderly does the Lord deal with such ! how
gently does He speak in His word to all such deeply wounded ones, and
assure them of a pity and compassion equally powerful and tender, so
that none need despair when such a Helper is near! He knows the
case of every afflicted one; yet He invites each to tell his
griefs, and pour out his heart, for in this there is relief. We shut up
our sorrows from unsympathizing ears, but we find relief in expressing
them where we are sure of being understood, and who can understand or
sympathize like the "Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Observe
how the pity and the power of our God are both brought forward; He who
heals, is He who tells the number of the stars!
''Who hath delivered us from the power of
darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear
Son."—Col. i. 13.
All who live in a country of gospel light are, in a
certain sense, "delivered from the power of darkness;" but as the rays
of the noonday sun shine in vain upon a blind man's eye, so the outward
rays of truth and light shine in vain on many a blind and darkened and
ignorant mind in the midst of gospel privileges. Until the Lord opens
the eyes of the understanding, there can be no real deliverance from the
power of darkness, and it is a fearful power! It blinds the heart
to the love of truth; it makes the conscience sleep the sleep of death;
it darkens the eye, so that it cannot discern good from evil, nor see
the path which leads to life; it makes men mistake friends for enemies,
and fly from their soul's true Friend to their deadliest foe! Blessed be
Jesus who hath overcome the prince of darkness that He might save His
people from the power of darkness ! Let those who have been so
delivered, see that they are found walking as "children of the light,"
and avoiding every appearance of return to the dreadful gloom of the "
power of darkness."
"Lord, I am blind, be Thou my sight!
Lord, I am weak, be Thou my might!
A helper of the helpless be,
And let me find my all in Thee!"
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their
strength."—Isa. xl. 31.
How easy does everything appear when we have
strength to do it! and the promise that the Lord will strengthen our
heart, seems to offer us the very thing we want when we are low and
discouraged, and that is heart in our work and our way; heart
to run in the way of His commandments, and whatsoever we do, to do
it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men. Perhaps we have not
much bodily strength; for this also we must wait on the Lord, not
pining because we cannot do more, but seeking to do cheerfully, for
Sis sake, any little thing that we can do, and trying to feel an
interest in it. when things are right between our souls and Him who is
their life, everything else is right! but many forget this, begin at the
wrong end, and get discouraged. "Be of good courage;" "Be of good
cheer;" "Be of good comfort;" let us look at the reasons connected with
these three words of hope and comfort. "Be of good courage; He will
strengthen thine heart." "Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."
"Be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole." (Ps. xxvii. 14;
Matt. ix. 2, 22.)
"No strength of our own,
Or goodness we claim,
Yet since we have known
The Saviour's great name,
In this our strong tower,
For safety we hide;
The Lord is our power,
The Lord will provide."
"Rooted and grounded in love."—Era. iii. 17.
Very different is the mere passing sentiment
of love to Jesus, ebbing and flowing like a human affection, according
as our feelings are moved, from that love to Jesus, which must be
received from Himself. A coal from off the altar must at first
kindle it, and nothing can keep it alive, or feed the flame, but the
Spirit taking anew of the things of Christ, and showing them unto us.
Nor need we fear that He will fail to perform this part of the work of
our redemption. He delights, if we may so express it, to glorify
Christ, to testify of Him to poor perishing sinners! He sees from afar
those whom the Father has from all eternity elected to everlasting life,
and hastens, even while they are a far way off, to reveal Christ to them
in all the riches of His grace and mercy, to plant His love in their
hearts, and so to make them partakers of the Divine nature. How truly we
may say, " Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the sons of God!" May we, having Christ
dwelling in our hearts by faith, and being "rooted and grounded in love,
be enabled to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and
length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which
passeth knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fulness of God."
"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he
shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."—Ps. xxvii.
Do you ask, if, when we are in a low, backsliding
state, we are really to do nothing but wait ? Ah, but it is a
great thing to wait on the Lord! To feel that He only can revive
us again; that all depends on Him; that our drooping graces only want
Him to restore them, our weary souls only want Him to make the way
pleasant, and our feet like "hinds' feet." Wait then, on Him. When he
bids us wait, we may be assured that it is not for nothing we are
waiting, for even while waiting, He says, "be of good courage," wait in
hope. When David was very weary, he said to himself, " Why art thou cast
down, 0 my soul ? hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him." He
must have been the better for even that little glance up from the
present to the future, from himself and all his distressing
circumstances to his God! The command is not only to wait on the Lord,
but also to be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart;
very similar to that in the fortieth of Isaiah, " they that wait upon
the Lord shall renew their strength."
"We love him, because he first loved us."— 1 John
Love to Jesus, like every other good and perfect
gift, must be received from Him, not brought to Him; and how
precious is the faintest spark of it, when thus viewed as His gift,
for it is life, yea, eternal life! "We love Him
because He first loved us," not merely in the sense of a grateful return
of love for love such as subsists between man and man (see Matt. v. 46).
No, before we can say "we love Him," how much needs to be done, both
in us and for us ! We are the objects of the Father's love,
"Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with
loving-kindness have I drawn thee," Jer. xxxi. 3. All His dealings with
us, even before we knew Him, are, like the chariot spoken of in the Song
of Songs, "paved with love;" it is the channel through which all
our blessings flow, and they thus flowed upon us long before our hearts
were softened into one thought of love in return. We may be ready to
say, "Can the Lord of glory care for our love?" Yes, and knowing
that it will not spring up in our hearts of itself, He sends His Spirit
to shed abroad the love of God in our hearts, watches over its rise and
progress, and often says to us, as He did to Peter, "Lovest thou me?"
"The soul of the people was much discouraged
because of the way."—Numb. xxi. 4.
"He led them forth by the right way."—Ps.
Is it wonderful that we should sometimes be weary in
a world like this ? so little that is satisfying within us or around us;
we toil in our uphill way, and begin to wonder if this can really be the
right way! And yet, what is the difference between the way
now, and at some former time, when perhaps we could say from
experience, "wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her
paths are peace!" Outward circumstances, it is true, may be
different, but the great difference is this, that we are now
discouraged, heartless, and desponding. Oh, how well Satan likes to keep
us in this state ! but he cannot do so long. Amidst all our weariness,
there is One (we did not perhaps think how near He was) who never
wearies of us. He delights in re-storing our souls, in renewing our
strength, in reviving our fainting hearts. He is not indifferent as to
what state we are in, but having all the supplies of grace treasured up
in Himself for us, He sometimes sees it good to let us feel our own
emptiness, before He fills us with His Spirit. Still, He is watching and
waiting to be gracious; meantime, what can we do but wait for Hint.