"And the Lord shall guide
thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones:
and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose
waters fail not."—ISA. Iviii. 11.
"With such promises before
us, why do we ever suffer our souls to remain "as a dry and thirsty land
where no water is?" The fault is in ourselves, not in our outward
circumstances, nor in our Lord, who knows them and appoints them, and
gives us in His Word promises like this to assure us that in Himself we
may ever find the supply of our spiritual wants, whatever may be the
barrenness of the outward ordinances of grace. ''Rivers of living waters,"
is the promise of the Saviour to whosoever believeth on Him. "This spake
He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive." This
blessed Spirit is ever nigh. He is waiting to " drop from above " on our
hearts. He is near in the sick-room, when, perhaps, the weary sufferer's
spirit is ready to faint. He can satisfy as well as guide, grant peace and
convey instruction, till the soul, like a watered garden, brings forth all
manner of lovely fruits of righteousness. Without Him the best teaching
and the richest means of grace fail to refresh us; with Him we may find
green pastures and still waters wherever we go. Let us strive to realise
this, and cease to lay the blame and burden of our dulness on outward
circumstances, striving to feel with David, ''All my springs are in Thee."
"Thou of life the fountain
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity."
"And he took them up in his
arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them."—Mark x. 16.
How thankful we may be that
the graphic pen of St Mark has given us such full details of this touching
scene ! It reveals to us new and lovely features in the character of our
Lord; and many a little child's heart has been early drawn in love to the
Saviour by the picture of His tenderness here brought before us. He
blessed them ! We cannot help wishing to know what was the future history
of those early blessed ones ; we may believe that it was not in vain that
they were brought to Him, and that they are, even at this day, praising in
heaven Him who so early " took them up," and '' blessed them." We read
often of blessings bestowed by our Lord on particular characters, as in
the Sermon on the Mount; but except the blessing pronounced on "Simon Bar-jona,"
(Matt. xvi. 17,) we do not read of any individual blessings except this
one; and we know nothing of those who here received it, but that they were
little children. It is generally taken for granted that the mothers, or
parents, at least, brought the children; but that is not mentioned here ;
and I think this may and ought to encourage us to bring any children in
whom we are interested—god-children, Sunday scholars, or others, to Him ;
He is still the same Jesus, and will forbid none of the little ones to
come to Him.
"He raised them in His holy
He blessed them from the world and all its harms;
Heirs though they were of sin and shame,
He blessed them in His own, and in His Father's name."
"My heart is inditing a
good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King :
my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Thou art fairer than the children
of men."—Ps. xlv. 1, 2.
"He shall glorify me: for
he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you."—JOHN xvi. 14.
It is the Spirit of God who
reveals Christ to His people. He is the ready writer who inspired the
tongue of the Psalmist to sing, and filled his heart with things "touching
the King," as he indited this "good matter;" the expression in the margin,
"my heart boileth, or bubbleth up," gives the idea of an overflowing
well-spring of holy praise. Without the teaching of the same Spirit, we
can see in Christ "no beauty that we should desire Him;" but when He opens
our eyes and our hearts, we cry, "Thou art fairer than the children of
men!" "Thou art the chief est among ten thousand !" What need have we to
plead continually Christ's own promise, and entreat Him to grant us His
Spirit's teaching? this alone can enable us to "see the King in His
beauty," and to rejoice in Him as our King.
"Come, Holy Spirit, from
With all Thy quick'ning powers;
Come, shed abroad a Saviour's love,
And that shall kindle ours."
"This I say then, Walk in
the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."—Gal. v. 16.
This is the secret of a
holy life and conversation, to "walk in the Spirit;" and this is what the
Apostle solemnly tells us we must do, if we would be freed from living in
bondage to the '' lusts of the flesh." For the spiritual man, who has the
Holy Spirit of God dwelling in him, cannot be at the same time fulfilling
those evil works of the flesh of which we have in this passage so fearful
a picture; he lives in a new atmosphere, he has a new nature given him
through the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and he desires daily more and
more "to die unto sin and live unto righteousness." If we are tempted to
evil, (and who is not tempted?) let us remember the Apostle's words, and
seek to walk in the Spirit, to maintain a closer and nearer communion with
our heavenly Father through the Spirit dwelling in us, then we shall find
the desires after the works of the flesh grow weaker as His grace grows
stronger in us. These two, the works of the flesh and the fruits of the
Spirit, are contrary the one to the other. If we would maintain a close
walk with God, we must avoid fulfilling the lusts of the flesh; and, on
the other hand, if we would be preserved from fulfilling them, we must be
careful to keep up a close walk with God in the secret of our hearts.
"Oh for a closer walk with
A calm and heavenly frame!
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!
"Praise him with the sound
of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp."—Ps. cl. 3.
"And I heard the voice of
harpers harping with their harps."—Rev. xiv. 2.
"They stand on the sea of
glass, having the harps of God."—Rev. xv. 2.
In the Psalms we have
repeated mention of praising God with instrumental music, and we know from
the historical narrative how important a place it held in the temple
service. But when we read of harps in the upper sanctuary, as seen by St
John in the Revelation, it seems as if more is meant than such praise as
even the sweet Psalmist of Israel could offer with his well-tuned
psaltery; and I cannot but think that something higher is here symbolised.
"Man is a harp whose chords
elude the sight,
Each yielding harmony disposed aright."
And may it not be that
something like this is what we are to understand by the "harps of God?"
Hearts, in every chord attuned to harmony, must utter sounds of praise
worthy of heaven. Oh, what that music must be, when there is no longer a
jarring note or an imperfect, feeble tone! when all is holy harmony and
unity, and the theme of their song the highest that man or angel can
utter— "Worthy is the Lamb!"
"Hark! how the adoring hosts
With songs surround the throne,
Ten thousand thousand are their tongues,
But all their hearts are one.
Worthy the Lamb that died, they cry,
To be exalted thus!
Worthy the Lamb, let us reply,
For He was slain for us!"'
"And Jesus answering, said
unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are
sick. I came not to call the righteous, hut sinners to repentance."—Luke
v. 31, 32.
In answer to the murmurs of
the Pharisees, our Lord announces this principle of His dealings with men,
and blessed be God for such a declaration! He came as the Physician of the
sick, as the Saviour of the lost; not to call the righteous, but sinners
to repentance ; and it is in the confidence that such is His will that I
may venture to draw near to Him as my Physician, as my Saviour! Had He
laid down any qualification of merit, I must have despaired; for the
nearer I approach to Him, the more do I behold my own utter vileness, and
the more plainly do I see that whoever is whole, I am sick, whoever is
righteous, I am a sinner before Him in thought, word, and deed. And it is
not only at the beginning of the Christian course, but all through, even
to the end, that this principle holds true; we must come as sick, as
sinners; we have nothing but His free grace to lay hold of ; if we have
laboured for Him, our labours need to be washed and purified before they
can be accepted; and if we have learned anything of His love and His
goodness, we shall see to the end of our days on earth, that we have
nothing in ourselves whereby we can stand as righteous in His sight.
"Not the labour of my hands,
Can fulfil Thy law's demands.
Could my tears for ever flow,
Could my zeal no respite know,
All for sin would not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone."
"I saw the dead, small and
great, stand before God: and the hooks were opened; and another book was
opened, which is the hook of life."—Rev. xx. 12.
"There shall in no wise
enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh
abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's
book of life."—Rev. xxi. 27.
"Rejoice, because your
names are written in heaven." —Luke x. 20.
"Clement also, and other my
fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life."—Phil. iv. 3.
I find repeated mention, in
God's Word, of the book of life. It is a solemn thought, "Is my name
written there?" No question can be of such importance to me ! How happy
the chosen seventy must have been, when their Lord's own voice told them
that they were to rejoice, because their '' names were written in heaven
!" How happy Clement must have been, and those other fellow-labourers,
when the inspired apostle had said that their '' names were in the book of
life!" But it was not to produce a careless security that they were
assured of this; they must have felt more than ever humbled by a sense of
God's undeserved mercy, and more than ever earnest in seeking grace to
persevere, and holiness to live as became those whose names were written
in heaven. And if I have thus felt His mercy and sought His grace, though
no voice from heaven can now assure me that my name is written there, I
may yet have a good hope through grace, for His own word remains as firm
as in the day when He himself uttered it—''Him that cometh unto me, I will
in no wise cast out."
"Write but my name upon the
Of Thy redeem'd above;
Then heart, and mind, and strength, and soul,
I'll love Thee for Thy love!"
"He weakened my strength in
the way.'—Ps. cii. 23.
"This sickness is not unto
death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified
thereby."—John xi. 4.
When God weakens our
strength in the way, and sends us sore sickness, we are peculiarly apt to
be tempted to question His love and wisdom. We are ready to say, Why am I
thus laid aside from all usefulness in the world? Or if the trial is sent,
not to ourselves, but to some dear Christian friend, we feel often still
more perplexed by God's dealings, and ask, Is it not a very dark and
mysterious Providence that one so useful, so full of benevolent schemes,
so able to do God's work in a world where workers are so needed, should be
thus prostrated with pain, and his strength thus " weakened in the way?"
Perhaps the sisters and friends of Lazarus thought thus. Little could they
deem that, by his sickness, God was to be glorified more than if he had
lived in perfect health to the age of Methuselah! And though God does not
now glorify Himself by raising men from the dead, like Lazarus, He is
still calling on us to have faith in Him, and to believe that sickness is
not sent in vain, but for the glory of God, when borne with Christian
patience. Surely His grace was not less manifested, and His name was not
less glorified by the patience of Job, than by the cure of Hezekiah!