"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for
ever."—Heb. xiii. 8.
Jesus liveth and reigneth now, but He is the same Jesus
who suffered and died; He is the same who for us became a babe. No "babe
in Christ" need fear to draw near to Him who was once the infant in the
manger. He is the same who was tempted: none can know so well how to
succour us when we are tempted. He was "grieved for the hardness of men's
hearts," and all who are in grief for the hardness either of their own
hearts or of those of others can find sympathy in Kim, for He is still the
same Jesus. He loved His followers on earth, He loves His followers now
with the same love. Ho wept, He "groaned in spirit," He "sighed," "He was
weary with His journey;" He has not forgotten these things—He is still the
same. He hung upon the cross, He went down into the dust of death, He
slept in the sepulchre of Joseph, and He rose on the first day of the
week; and there is not one of us who may not, by these proofs of what His
love led Him to do of old, learn and know what His love is even to this
day, and will be through eternity, for He is "Jesus Christ, the same
yesterday, and to-day, and for ever."
"Fear not, then, distress'd believer,
Venture on His mighty name;
He is able to deliver,
And His love is still the same."
"And He saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of
little faith? Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and
there was a great calm."—Matt. viii. 26.
There is a grand simplicity in this narrative. As we
read it, we seem to feel Him near and mighty to save; we are humbled at
our own ''little faith;" and we are taught that He who could thus still
the winds and the sea, can also make a "great calm" in our hearts, and
silence the storms within our unruly spirits. "There is no peace, saith my
God, to the wicked;" but when the Lord, by His great power, changes the
sinner's heart, and turns him from the error of his ways, though there may
be at first "little faith," and a sore strife within, yet if He once
speaks the word, and reveals Himself in His power and in His love, there
is a "great calm," beyond all that the heart had ever hoped to find.
"Lord, increase our faith:" let this be our constant prayer. As faith
grows, peace will grow, not perhaps the peace that is undisturbed by
conflict, but that far deeper and holier peace, which even in the midst of
storms spreads around the soul His own "great calm."
"Fierce passions discompose the mind,
As tempests vex the sea;
But calm repose and peace we find,
When, Lord, we turn to Thee."
"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of
God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation,
among whom ye shine as lights in the world."—Phil. ii. 15.
By the conduct of professing Christians men judge of
their religion, what need, then, that it should be "blameless and
harmless!" The disciples of Christ may expect to find those who will say
"all manner of evil against them for His name's sake," it must be their
own care that whatever is so said shall be said "falsely." The
Christian standard of morality ought to bo so high, and pure, and
consistent, that even the worldling may be forced to confess its
superiority, and to take knowledge of its followers, that "they have been
with Jesus." Let us ask if it is so with us. Let us watch ourselves in
this matter, lest we be found gliding down with the stream in the midst of
a crooked and perverse nation. Let us be on our guard, lest we be found by
our conduct either causing Christ's foes to rejoice, or grieving and
stumbling Christ's little ones. May our lights shine in the world with no
uncertain or feeble ray, to the praise of His grace who has delivered us
from the power of darkness.
"Be all my heart, he all my days
Devoted to Thy single praise;
And let my glad obedience prove
How much I owe, how much I love."
"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in
me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us : that the world may
believe that thou hast sent mo."—John xvii. 21.
The mind is overwhelmed when trying to enter into the
meaning of this great and deep prayer, and seeking to understand this
mighty oneness of which our Saviour prays that His people may be
partakers. Divided, as they too often are, it is good for them to keep in
mind, that their Lord's desire is that they "may be one;" He has asked
this for them, and what a standard— what a measure of oneness has He
prayed for! " As Thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee!" an inconceivably
deep, close, eternal union of character—of love! Am I following the mind
of Jesus in this thing? Am I seeking to love all His members for His sake
? Am I looking, not at their failings, but at their union with Him—our
Head—both theirs and mine, as a reason for love? These questions ought to
be asked by Christians who wish to be Christ-like; the answer may be often
humbling, but should lead to much prayer and watchfulness ; and let us
remember that, as the time will assuredly come at last, when this prayer
of the Saviour will be fulfilled, it becomes us now to cultivate
such a spirit of love as we shall in that day wish that we had always
cherished towards even the least of Christ's true disciples.
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little
ones ; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold
the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to
save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep,
and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine,
and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And
if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of
that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so
it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these
little ones should perish."—Matt. xviii. 10-14.
Note how the connexion between these verses unfolds the
scheme by which "little ones" are saved. We may not doubt that they are
subjects of grace; we are to "take heed" not to despise them; a
warning not given unless needed; great and mysterious privileges are
theirs, dimly revealed by the expression, "in heaven their angels do
always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven;" and all this not
from any innocence or inherent purity in them, but because the Son of man
came to save the lost! These little ones, like other children of
Adam, were lost, but they are found in Christ; He seeks lambs as well as
the sheep which went astray, and all because of the free grace of the
Father, for it is not His will that one of those little ones should
perish. Oh, what a vast multitude of redeemed little ones glorify His name
on high ! These are they who are redeemed out of every nation, and
kingdom, and people, and tongue, taken from this sinful world in infancy,
and saved by Him who " came to save that which was lost." May the old
sheep follow them into the fold!
"Around the throne of God in heaven
Ten thousand children stand,
Whose sins are all by Christ forgiven,
A holy, happy band,
Singing, Glory, glory, glory!"
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not alibis
benefits."—Ps. ciii. 2.
"Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt;
they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies."—Ps. cvi. 7.
Let us not be guilty of sinning "with our fathers" in
this respect. We marvel at their ingratitude, let us see that we do not
partake their sin. Strange that it should be so common a one; for what
exercise can be more delightful, elevating, and encouraging than that of
recalling the mercies of God, and giving Him thanks for all His benefits ?
I do not know a better way of dissipating the cloud of care which the
shadow of approaching trouble will sometimes cast upon the mind, than to
follow David's holy example, and, turning from present anxieties, call
upon our souls, and all that is within us, to "bless the Lord, and forget
not all His benefits." Let us recount them if we can, they soon exceed our
power to number or express. Let us give Him thanks, and acknowledge each
as His good gift to us, whether for this life or for that which is
to come'; and when we have added to this the thought that we are unworthy
of the least of His benefits, less than the least of His mercies, shall
not our hearts burn within us with gratitude, till we rise with the
apostle to the highest of all, and cry, "thanks be to God for his
"While harps unnumber'd sound His praise
In yonder world above,
His saints on earth admire His ways,
And glory in His love."
'' I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon
me."—Ps. xl. 17.
"He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save
the souls of the needy."—Ps. Ixxii. 13.
''Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with
goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched,
and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." —Rev. iii. 17.
It is not those who are rich in their own eyes that
receive the true riches; it is the poor and needy. Those who
confess themselves to be so, are those on whom the Lord thinketh, and to
whom He promises the full treasures of His grace. We are too ready to
forget our deep spiritual poverty, and none are so apt to do so as those
who, like the Laodiceans, are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. It is
sad to be "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," but
saddest of all to be in this condition and not know it; to be
flattering ourselves in our own eyes; to be saying, '' I am rich," in the
midst of our abject poverty; and, all the while, to be regardless of the
gold tried in the fire, and the white raiment so freely offered to us. O
Lord, make us know our poverty! make us know Thy riches! Teach us to come
to Thee as poor and needy beggars. Those who beg for this world's goods
may well be our example—they confess their wants freely, and they beg
earnestly, importunately, humbly; yet it has never been said to them, as
to us, "ask, and ye shall receive."