"Thou God seest me."—Gen. xvi. 13.
This is a truth owned by many, felt by few; owned at
the very beginning of the Christian course, as it startles the awakened
sinner; but, alas! not felt as he would wish it to be by even the
most advanced saint. If in our journey of life we had always at our side
a bright angel walking with us, a native of heaven whose white raiment
and holy looks, words, and ways continually reminded us of the holy
place from whence he came, how would the presence of such a monitor
check us in every trifling pursuit, and hush every vain, foolish, angry,
or unkind word; how watchful would we become, and how diligent in the
use of the means of grace; how humble would the sight of his
excellencies make us ; and how would we long to become like him! It may
be that such a heavenly messenger is even now the appointed companion,
though unseen, of every one of God's people. But whether it be so or
not, we dp assuredly know that the Lord of angels Himself is ever
beholding us. He compasseth our path and our lying down, and is
acquainted with all our ways. O may He look upon us in mercy, through
the atonement and merits of His own dear Son, " forgiving us
those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good
things which we are not worthy to ask," but for His sake.
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that
men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and
the prophets."— Matt. vii. 12.
Let me take these words of Jesus as a standard and
rule of morality in all my dealings with others. I may not lower this
standard by reference to the ways of the world, nor to the claims of
self-interest, nor by reading these words (as so many seem to
do), "whatsoever ye expect that men should do to you, do ye to
them." Jesus has given His followers a very different rule, and has
illustrated it by His own example. In transactions of business, let me
take the spirit of His precept for my guide ; for why should the
business life of a Christian be so severed from his spiritual life that
he cannot in the one as well as in the other listen to the voice which
says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus?" In
buying and selling, in dealing with servants, in judging of the conduct
of those around me, in words, thoughts, and deeds, let me seek to
maintain a strict watch over myself lest I transgress this truly "Golden
Rule;" and may God give me grace to keep it in spite of all temptations
which selfishness may suggest.
"Who is the honest man?
He that doth still and strongly good pursue,
To God, his neighbour, and himself most true;
Whom neither force nor fawning can
Unpinne, or wrench from giving all their due."
"Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a
soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of
the Lord."—Lev. iv. 2.
Here we have a whole chapter devoted to the law of
sin-offerings for sins of ignorance; the priest's offering; the offering
for "the whole congregation of Israel;" the offering when a ruler hath
sinned; and even the offering for the poorest, "when any one of the
common people sin through ignorance." None were excused on account of
ignorance if they sinned against any of the commandments of the Lord;
for in chosen Israel, they were guilty if they were ignorant: the
Lord had shown them His statutes and His judgments; He had " not dealt
so with any nation;" and it was a crime in even the poorest person among
them so to neglect acquainting themselves with His will as to be found
transgressing it through ignorance. And is not ignorance a great sin
among us also ? God has made known His holy Word and will to us in these
latter times, so that we are left without excuse. 0 Lord, enlighten my
eyes in the full knowledge of thy will! Keep back thy servant from sins
of ignorance! "Thy commandment is exceeding broad," and "who can tell
how oft he offendeth?" "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and
of goats should take away sin," but thanks be unto God for the One
perfect Sacrifice that cleanseth from all iniquity— through Him we may
come and ask thee "to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and
"A certain woman, named Martha, received him into
her house."—Luke x. 38.
"He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that
receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me."— Matt. x. 40.
"What a happy woman was Martha, to be able to receive
Jesus into her house! To have her Lord sitting at her table, to hear him
speak words of holy wisdom, to be honoured to minister to Him—all this
was indeed a privilege ; and we are ready to cry, O that I had been in
Martha's, or still more in Mary's place ! But have we enough
thought of His own words, "He that receiveth you receiveth
me?" His disciples are still among us, they come to us asking help
and comfort, fellowship, kindness, and sympathy,—let us hasten to open
our hearts to them for His sake. Let us look upon them as His,
seeking to forget their frailties in the remembrance of their faith. Let
us remember whose they are; the mark of their royal sonship may
be but dim through the infirmities of sinful nature; yet if they are
believers, and pilgrims to the better country, let us beware how we
despise "one of the least of these little ones." O how liberally Jesus
rewards those who receive His disciples ! Not a cup of cold water given
to them in His name shall lose its reward.
"Let us for each other care,
Each the other's burden bear,
To thy church the pattern give,
Show how true believers live!"
"Ought not this woman, being a daughter of
Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed
from this bond on the Sabbath-day?"—Luke xiii. 16.
This woman was a "daughter of Abraham;" "they which
are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham ;" and coming in her
faith to the synagogue, in spite of her infirmity, she found herself
cured through the power and mercy of Him who delights in mercy. She was
one of the many whom He cured on that Sabbath-day, to the great
indignation of the Pharisees, who were blind to the higher principle
asserted by Him, of doing good on the day set apart for God's
service. And it is still the Lord's day of cures. How many a son and
daughter of Abraham has gone to His house in heaviness, " bowed
together," and unable to lift up their hearts any more than this poor
woman could lift up her body, and on His day and in His house, the bond
has been loosed, and they have been made to glorify God. Let me take
this case for my encouragement, and go to the sanctuary of God, in full
belief of the power and will of the Lord Jesus, to undo the heavy burden
of sin with which Satan has sought to bow down the soul.
"When, along life's thorny road,
Faints the soul beneath the load,
By its cares and sins opprest,
Finds on earth no peace or rest:
"When the wily tempter's near,
Filling us with doubts and fear,
Jesus, to thy feet we flee,
Jesus, we will look to thee!"
"The Lord spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no
inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among
them; I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of
Israel."—Numb, xviii. 20.
"Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a peculiar people."—1 Pet. ii. 9.
Happy Aaron ! how rich was his portion, how high his
privileges ! but high as they were, they are excelled by those of the
"royal priesthood," of whom he was a type. If the Lord has indeed chosen
us to be His, let us think to what a portion He has called us, and let
us thankfully accept the lot of being "strangers and pilgrims on the
earth," if we can but say, "The Lord is the portion of mine
inheritance. "May the Lord fill our hearts with a sense of His love, so
that we may be constrained to cry out with the Psalmist, "Whom have I in
heaven but thee, and there is none on earth that I desire beside thee?"
Whatever he gives us here, will be good if He gives us Himself
along with it; and whatever He withholds from us, He can more than
make up for, even in this life, and in the world to come He will give
"life everlasting" as his people's inheritance.
"No more, believers, mourn your lot;
But if ye are the Lord's,
Resign to those that know him not
Such joys as earth affords."
"Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the
morning; for in thee do I trust."—Ps. cxliii. 8.
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh
in the morning."—Ps. xxx. 5.
"God shall help her, and that right early."—
Ps. xlvi. 5.
It is night with the Christian when his Lord hides
His face from him, but the darkness will not continue always, and it is
in hope and confidence of being heard, that he prays, "Cause me to hear
thy loving-kindness." Long, dark, and full of weeping as the night hours
may be, there is a morning for every afflicted child of God, and
"joy cometh in the morning;" joy from God, joy in a restored
sense of God's loving-kindness, and light in again beholding the light
of His countenance. Whatever darkness we may have to pass through here,
may the Lord enable us to hold fast our belief that the morning will
come, if not in this world assuredly in the next; such a hope has
cheered the heart of many a sufferer, and many a martyr for God's truth;
it has been to them like the thought of morning to shipwrecked mariners
through the dreary and dreadful night of tempest—giving them strength to
hold out, and courage to cling to the last to the raft that sustains
them. "Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it
will not tarry." "Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall
strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."
"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord,
and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High."—Ps. xcii. 1.
"Be ye thankful."—Col. ii. 15.
I believe that much of our happiness as well as of
our holiness depends on our cultivation of a thankful spirit, not merely
a cheerful spirit which enjoys God's gifts, but a thankful
one, which habitually looks up, lovingly, to the Hand that gives;
"giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ." In order to attain and keep in exercise this
spirit, let me seek to trace God's hand in even the most common
blessings of life: food and raiment, health and a home, are not due
to me more than others—they are God's gifts; alas, how men complain
when deprived of them! how little do they thank God while possessed of
them! These are the blessings for which even nature tells us to give
thanks; but how much higher are those to which revelation points!
Alexander wept that he had no more worlds to conquer, but faith reveals
another world conquered for the Christian, and bids him "give thanks
unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the
inheritance of the saints in light."