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The Home Preacher
Or Church in the House - Week 23

By Dr. Morgan

Morning Worship

GOD our Father, who hast given us Thy dear Son to reveal to us in His person and life the chief end for which we were created and redeemed, grant us now a measure of Thy grace, that like Him we may be humble-minded, poor in spirit, meek and forgiving, and hunger and thirst after righteousness; that we may be merciful to the unthankful, meek and patient under difficulties, and notwithstanding manifold provocations; mourning the evil in our brother, rejoicing in his good; abhorring all envy, wrath, or malice: so that we, thus carrying about the dying of the Lord Jesus, may have his life manifested in our mortal bodies to the glory of Thy holy name. Amen.


HYMN, or Psalm xvi. 5-9.

THOU only sov’reign of my heart,
My refuge, my almighty friend;
And can my soul from Thee depart,
On whom alone my hopes depend?

Whither, ah! whither should I go,
A wretched wand’rer from my Lord?
Could this dark world of sin and woe
One glimpse of happiness afford?

Eternal life thy words impart;
On these my fainting spirit lives:
Here sweeter comforts cheer my heart
Than the whole round of nature gives.

Thy name my inmost powers adore;
Thou art my life, my joy, my care:
Depart from Thee! --’tis death--’tis more,
’Tis endless ruin, deep despair!

Low at thy feet my soul would lie,
Here safety dwells and peace divine:
Still let me live beneath thine eye,
For life, eternal life, is thine.


AND the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers; 10. If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes, which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. 11. For this commandment, which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off; 12. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13. Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? 14. But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. 15. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 17. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them; 18. I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 19. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.


BLESSED are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. 2. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. 3. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. 4. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. 5. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes, 6. Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments 7. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. 8. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.



HOLY, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! the whole earth is full of Thy glory. Thanks be to Thee for the revelation Thou hast given us of Thy name. Thou art Thyself, “the blessed God,” thrice blessed in Thy glory, and Thou art ready to bestow on us blessings manifold, according to our necessities and the riches of Thy grace in Jesus Christ our Lord. We plead with Thee in His name, by Thine own word, on which thou hast caused us to hope, that Thou wilt this morning bestow its rich and promised blessings upon us. Didst thou not command thy ministering servants in former times, saying, “Ye shall bless the children of Israel?” Herein we learn Thy will towards us. Didst thou not put words of blessing into their mouth and require them to say, “The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace?” And didst thou not promise, when Thy servants pronounced these benedictions, “They shall put My name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them?” O Lord, “do as Thou hast said.” We claim to be thine Israel--Thy children. “Doubtless, Thou art our Father.” Thou didst make us, and not we ourselves; we are Thy people and the sheep of Thy pasture. “Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord God of truth.” Therefore are we encouraged to ask for the blessings which Thou hast shown Thyself so ready to impart, and which every day we need. May we richly enjoy them throughout this day, on which through Thy grace and providence we have been permitted to enter. Bless Thou us, O Lord, and we shall be blessed indeed. Without Thy blessing, all beside is worthless and vain, Lord, bless us and keep us. We cannot keep ourselves. We accept Thy words, O Saviour, when Thou didst say to Thy disciples, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Keep us from the flesh and its sinful appetites and passions. Keep us from the world and its vanities and delusions. Keep us from its temptations, and perplexities, and unsatisfying pleasures. Keep us from Satan and wicked men. May we enjoy Thy favour and fellowship all the day. “Lift upon us the light of Thy countenance, and that shall put joy and gladness into our hearts, more than when corn and wine abound.” So may this day be spent in peace--in peace with Thee, in peace with one another and all men, in peace with ourselves. Put Thy name upon us that we may be “epistles of Christ, known and read of all men” “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us;” and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it,” for Christ’s sake. Amen.



O THOU who art the giver of every good and perfect gift and the author of life everlasting, send Thy blessing on us, Thy servants, at this time! Sow the seed of eternal life in our hearts, and so water it by the dew of thy Holy Spirit, that whatsoever we learn profitably may be practised diligently, to Thy glory in Jesus Christ our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

HYMN, or Psalm xxviii. 6-9.

SAVIOUR, bless the word to all
Quick and powerful let it prove:
O let sinners hear thy call,
And thy people grow in love!

What has now been spoken bless;
Follow it with power divine;
Give thy gospel great success;
Thine the work, the glory thine!

Saviour, bid the world rejoice,
Send, O! send Thy truth abroad;
Let the nations hear Thy voice
Hear it, and return to God.

Zechariah IV. 1-9.

AND the angel that talked with me came again and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 2. And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps which are upon the top thereof: 3. And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. 4. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me saying, What are these, my lord? 5. Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6. Then he answered and spake unto me saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. 7. Who art thou, O great mountain! Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace, unto it. 8. Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 9. The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.



--Song iv. 16.

BY the “wind,” we are, no doubt, to understand the Holy Spirit. This was one of his chosen emblems in the remarkable effusion of the day of Pentecost. The ‘north wind’ is expressive of those operations of the Spirit which agitate the soul with keen and bitter exercises on account of sin; while the “south wind” intimates the tender and soothing influences which bind up the broken heart. The “garden” is the church of God. The “spices” are the fruits and fragrance of those heavenly plants, which the good husbandman has made to grow within its sacred inclosure. And when the prayer is addressed to the Spirit to “awake and come and blow upon the garden, that the spices thereof may flow out,” the meaning is that he would visit the souls of his people with renewed and increased power, so as to invigorate their gifts and exercise their graces.

You know how pleasant it is, on the calm summer evening, to pass by the aromatic beds of the garden, and as the wind gently blows over the sweet-scented flowers to be regaled by their fragrance. So also does the garden of the Lord send forth is rich perfume, when it is graciously visited by the out-pouring of the Spirit of the Lord.

Understanding the text according to this interpretation, it contains some important principles highly suitable for our present consideration. The following may be selected as the most prominent and appropriate--that the church is the garden of the Lord; that it is dependent for its fertility on the agency of the divine Spirit; that his influence may be expected in answer to prayer; and that when it is obtained abundant prosperity is enjoyed by the members of the church. Let us meditate on these heavenly truths, breathing the aspirations of the text -- “awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof my flow out.”
I. The church is the garden of the Lord.--This figure is used at some length in the context. We read at the 12th verse--”A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire with spikenard; spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” There are principally three ideas here which it is important to observe--

1. The church is a "garden inclosed." It is separated from the world. It is in the world, but not of the world: it has been taken out of the world. Every member of it has been taught to see that the world lieth in the wicked one, and he must forsake its companionship and ways. He seeks another fellowship and unites himself to the people of the Lord. It is recorded of Saul, that no sooner was he truly converted to God than “he assayed to join himself to the disciples.” The genuine convert is drawn to the godly by an irresistible affinity. These unite and coalesce as naturally as the separate globules of water dissolve into one another. They are “a peculiar people,” and are required to maintain a position of separation from the world. It is thus they are addressed in the word of God-- “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? And what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” It is thus the church is “a garden inclosed.”

2. Again, within this inclosure are all pleasant plants. They are such as might be expected from the divine husbandman by whom they are planted and nurtured. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” These are in their own nature essentially excellent. They confer the highest blessedness on those who are the subjects of them. They impart proportionate benefits to all with whom they come into contact. They diffuse happiness as far as they prevail; and they reflect honour on him from whom they all spring. These are the graces of the members of the church. They are therefore addressed on the duties expected of them in this strain, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” These are exotics which grace makes to grow in the garden of the Lord--exotics transplanted from the soil of heaven.

3. Once more, to secure their growth in this garden of the Lord, thus richly planted, there is provided within it “a well of living waters.” It is thus at once independent and dependent. It is independent of the world. It can live, in all that is essential to its highest interests, without it. It lives in opposition to it. From the beginning the world has been the persecutor of the church. The Scriptures expressly warn us, “that as he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” True vital spiritual religion usually flourishes most amid the asperities of the world, and least under the sunshine of its favour. It is thus independent. But in another view it is most dependent. Jesus saith to his people, “Without me ye can do nothing.” “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me.” He has therefore graciously provided to maintain this union. This is done by promoting communion with himself. He keeps his people near to him in the ordinances of his house. By the word and sacraments he maintains fellowship with them. In these he visits them with his salvation, and makes them partakers of his grace. “With joy they draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Ordinances are designed to furnish “the supply of the Spirit.” And thus, without going beyond their own sacred inclosure, they find within it, in the rich imagery of the context, “a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.”

II. This sentiment, however, will come out more fully while we now proceed, in the second place, to consider that the church is dependent for its fertility on the agency of the Divine Spirit.

In the 32nd chapter of Isaiah there is the following prediction of gospel times, at the 13th verse, harmonizing with the figure and sentiment of the text: -- “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briars; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city--until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruited field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” The wilderness, on the one hand, filled with tangled weeds, the abode of noxious reptiles; the fruitful field, on the other, supplying wholesome food for man and beast; and the change effected only when “the Spirit is poured from on high”--these are the sentiments.

The same truth was about the very last which was impressively urged on the disciples by their risen Lord, immediately before his ascension. “Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.” Think of the exercises of which they must have been the subjects during those days of anxious suspense and high expectation--how they were taught that they could not take a single step in their divine mission until the Spirit came to guide and strengthen them!

They expected such influence from him, and therefore, under a divine direction, “when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Nor were they disappointed. “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” These two emblems of the Spirit were no doubt expressly chosen because they were adapted to the occasion. The rushing mighty wind and the fire are the emblems of irresistible power. Who could withstand either? but specially the two combined? They were fitted, as no doubt they were intended, to impress on the early church the mighty power required for the execution of its high mission, and to teach that this power could be obtained only from the Spirit of God, and from no human source. This lesson they did earn effectually, for we are told of their ministrations, “they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming their words with signs following.” And the apostolic ministry is described by Peter, saying, “they preached the gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.”

This was the secret of the early triumphs of Christianity. The Spirit was honoured, and he honoured the truth that was spoken in dependence upon him. Paul spoke for himself and all his fellow labourers when he said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God; and I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” It was not eloquence that did it, it was not industry, it was not courage, it was not zeal, it was not even the proclamation of truth: all these there were; but it was the Spirit of God, in and by them, that wrought on the hearts of men, and made them the willing subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us carry this sentiment with us in all the ministrations of the sanctuary. Is the word read or preached? Let us remember the Spirit alone can enlighten the mind to apprehend it, or enable the heart to receive it, or bring the life under the power of it. Are the sacraments administered? Their efficacy is entirely dependent on the accompanying grace of the Spirit. Is the exercise of godly discipline demanded? To him it belongs to render it a blessing to the subject of it, and a warning to others. “Who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”

And this, let it be added, is true of both the commencement of religion in the soul, and of every step in its progress to consummation. The sinner is “born of the incorruptible seed of the word,” when that is quickened in the soul by the Spirit; otherwise it remains there a dead letter. Nor does it grow of itself when once life has been infused; the same energy must continue to be imparted to it to carry it to maturity. In the account of the first creation it is recorded, that “the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.” The motion is analogous to that of the parent bird when she sits upon the eggs to which she imparts heat and vitality. It is also testified of the Spirit in creation, “Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth.” All the tribes of animal, and all the varieties of vegetable life, are preserved and sustained by the Spirit that at first created them. The continuance of their being is as dependent on him as their commencement. So also is it with the work of his grace in the soul, which he alike begins and carries on to perfection. Behold the face of nature in the spring. The ploughshare has broken up the earth, the seed has been cast into it, and there it remains, waiting for the seasonable shower and the genial influences of the sun. Under these it will vegetate and grow. But the same influences must be continued. If at any stage in the progress of the season they were to be withdrawn, the hopes of the husbandman must perish. So also it is in grace. The seed of the word is sown in the human mind while the truth is preached. The truth is watered by the Spirit, and the dead soul is quickened into spiritual life. But the dews of the Divine Spirit must continue to descend by night, and his showers and his sunshine must be given throughout the day. It is only then and thus we shall not be barren nor unfruitful in the work of the Lord, but bring forth, “some sixty, some sevently, and some an hundred fold.”

O! How important it is, in both the speakers and hearers of the word, that this sense of dependence on the Divine Spirit were constantly cherished. Unless it be so he shall not be sought with earnestness; but if it be so, we shall be in a condition sincerely to cry in the language of the text: “Awake, O north wind, and come thou south; blow upon my garden.” And to encourage such supplication, while we urge its necessity, let us now proceed and consider--

III. That the effectual influence of the Spirit may be expected to accompany the word and ordinances in answer to prayer. -- There is a very impressive and forcible expression of this truth in the 37th chapter of Ezekiel, at the beginning: -- “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.” These bones were the emblems of souls dead in sin. The prophet proceeds, “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.” This was to engage his attention with the apparent difficulty and hopelessness of their being made alive. “Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. This saith the Lord God unto these bones, Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” The remedy proposed by God was the preaching of the word, to which he graciously annexed the promise of his blessing. The prophet therefore at once addressed himself to this duty. He says, “So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them above.” Such was the result of the preached word -- attention, awakening, inquiry, and the assumption of the form and profession of religion. Notice what is added -- “But there was no breath in them.” There was the form of religion, but the power of it was wanting. What then shall be done? “Then he said to me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live:” pray for the Holy Spirit. He did so, and the result is recorded: “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” It would be impossible more clearly or powerfully to illustrate and enforce the duty of seeking by prayer to obtain the influence of the spirit to render effectual the preaching of the word--the necessity of it, on the one hand, and on the other, the certainty of thus obtaining it.

The same connection between prayer and the gift of the Spirit is remarkably exhibited in the proceedings of the day of Pentecost, to which we have had occasion to make frequent reference. That was a model day, and was intended to acquaint us with the nature of the “ministrations of the spirit” which it introduced. Every thing therefore is brought out prominently, which it was necessary to have impressed on the mind of the church. Observe, then, the place that is assigned to prayer. The record is, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. Prayer was universal, harmonious, and importunate. And is issued in the glorious results of the pentecostal visitation.

Nor was that a solitary example. The early church, with the freshness of its first love, abounded in prayer, and its prayers were the measures of its success. The apostles said, “We will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Prayer was esteemed of no less importance than preaching in those days. In every emergency we find this was the refuge to which the church betook itself. Of one of these it is recorded, “when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,” and they spake the word of God with boldness. It was as much as to intimate that nothing could withstand the irresistible might of the Spirit poured out in answer to prayer.

The conversion of the world itself is suspended upon this exercise. This is the word of the Lord -- “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night; ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”

And there is a propriety in attaching such efficacy to prayer, which must be obvious on the slightest consideration. On the one hand, it is a becoming expression of our weakness. It is an acknowledgment that what we ask of God we can not ourselves accomplish. A sense of helplessness, of utter nothingness, and unworthiness, is that which is suited to us. It is formed a distinguishing trait in every great man who has been efficient in his generation. Hear the language of isaiah: “woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips.” The great apostle of the Gentiles said, “Of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.” Luther said, “Here I stand; I know not what to do; Lord, help me.” This deep self-distrust is the surest precursor of mighty power and great success. If self is conquered, there is no other enemy that may not be overcome. On the other hand, while prayer is the proper expression of our weakness, it renders to God the glory that is due to his name. It is the cry of felt helplessness to him who is known to be almighty. Its spirit is well expressed in the words of the apostle, “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” It is thus we can say, “When I am weak then am I strong.” Prayer glorifies God, on whom it declares dependence, and therefore he accepts and honours it. There is thus no limit to the achievements which it may accomplish. It moves the hand that moves the universe. “Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” The Spirit of God is given in answer to prayer, because it is worthy of God so to confer it. It is an appeal alike to his unerring wisdom, his infinite power, his boundless mercy, and his inviolable truth. It cannot, therefore, be made in vain. This is his name, and this his memorial to all generations, the Hearer of prayer. Let us, therefore, be quickened in this duty, and cry mightily to God for his Spirit to accompany the word, saying with the ancient church, “Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden.” And why? What is it that requires and justifies all this earnestness? It is the blessed truth which now remains to be considered, namely--

IV. That the spices thereof may flow out. -- The hidden flower is often discovered by the sweet scent with which it regales the passer by. The neighbouring garden may be known to be well tended, though unseen, by the reviving perfume which it diffuses all around. Then it may be said, “the spices thereof flow out.”

So also should it be with the church, which is the garden of the Lord, of whom it is written, His name is as ointment poured forth.” This is attained when its gifts and graces are such as to attract observation, and reflect the blessings of which it is the recipient. In short, it is when the church answers the purpose for which it has been organized, when it is itself blessed and becomes a blessing, when its gifts are increased, and its graces exercised, and others are brought under their holy and happy influence.

It is such a condition of the church that is thus celebrated and promised in the 87th psalm: “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her; and the Highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there: all my springs are in thee.” It would be the glory of the church to be the birthplace of the saints. There sinners would be born again. Among them would be men of renown, mighty men to do the work of the Lord in the earth, whose names would reflect honour on their profession, and their lives bequeath blessings to mankind. As one example of such a happy state of the church we may cite the record of the early church at Jerusalem, contained in the 2nd chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, at the 41st verse -- “then they that gladly received the word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And all that believed were together, and had all things common. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” There truly did “the spices flow out!”

Why should it not be so still? If the church will only give the ancient invitation, “Let my beloved come into his garden and eat his pleasant fruits,” it will hear the ancient answer, “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honey-comb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” Dropping the figure, let us simply inquire what those graces are in which Christ thus delights and hold communion with his people, as the results of his Spirit’s work, in answer to their prayers. They are many, and can now be only named: --

One is, an enlightened understanding. He greatly desires his people should have “the spirit of wisdom and relation in the knowledge of him; that they should know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” His word therefore enjoins, “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Let the church, therefore, and every member of it, seek to advance in divine knowledge; and for this purpose call for the Spirit, who is eminently a Spirit of light.

Another kindred grace is, deep penitence before God. Wherever Christ is fully known this is an invariable result. “They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and mourn for him, as one mourneth for an only son.” As we see from what heights Jesus came, and to what depths he descended on our behalf, we cannot but smite on our breasts, and cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Yet this same knowledge will produce another effect, and call forth the liveliest exercises of faith It is recorded of Abraham, “he was strong in faith, giving glory to God, being persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform.” We should exercise unshaken confidence in him, both for ourselves and others. Let us say, “I know whom I have believed; I know that my Redeemer liveth.” The more we trust him, the more we honour him. It is thus the work of the Spirit is eminently done; for our Lord himself said, “He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and show it unto you.”

As are our knowledge and penitence and faith, so will be our holiness. Entire conformity to Christ should be our aim. “Grow up into him in all things.” Hear him saying, “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; for it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.” Be consistent. Walk worthy of Christ; otherwise the Spirit is grieved.

Especially self-denial is becoming in all his followers. He says, “If any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Whatever is contrary to his service and honour should be sacrificed; whatever is required for the one or the other should be cheerfully yielded.

In harmony with self-denial there should be zeal in his cause. “It is good to be zealously affected in a good thing” And is it not a good thing when Christ’s honour is at stake? when our own souls are in question? when the souls of others may be lost or saved? Surely it is not unreasonable to say, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and finish his work.” The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”

Then if so, this zeal must be proved by our generosity. “Ye know that grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” It is impossible, if the love of Christ be in our hearts, and if his honour be our aim, that we should withhold what is essential to his cause when it is in the power of our hands to do it. Rather shall we ask, “what shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits?” and our only regret will be that we do, and can do, so little for him who has done so much for us.

In the contemplation of such graces, who will not unite in the prayer of the text, “Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out?” Unless the Spirit produce them, they will never exist in the barren heart of man. Unless he cherish them, they will not be strengthened and exercised in the believer’s soul. But if he do dwell in us, and exert this mighty power upon us, then shall that influence be apparent in the increase and exercise of these very graces. O Holy Spirit, breathe on every soul now present, and quicken it into life. May the services of the sanctuary be ever conducted under thy grace and guidance. Do thou come and possess the hearts of the ministers and members of the whole church, until they shall be be “filled with the Spirit.” May the promise speedily be fulfilled, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” And may the church with one voice be stimulated to cry, “Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.”

“Come, Holy Spirit, heav’nly Dove,
With all they quickening powers,
Kindle a flame of sacred love,
In these cold hearts of ours;
Come, shed abroad a Saviour’s love,
And that shall kindle ours.”

James Morgan, D.D.




ONE day there was a great tumult in Jerusalem. A good man, who was well known and much feared as a powerful defender of the faith of the followers of Jesus Christ, had been dragged before the high court, to be tried for speaking against Moses and the law. Not that he really did so; for to preach Jesus was to show that the law had been honoured and fulfilled. Moses himself had said that a great prophet was to be raised up, whom all the people were to hear. That prophet was Jesus; and to tell the Jews about Him was only to tell what Moses had said would come to pass. This was all that was done by Stephen (for that was the good man’s name), though he did teach the truth about Jesus in such a way as to show that he had come, not to be a prophet and saviour for the Jews only, but for the world. These Jews, however, who did not believe in Jesus were very angry with Stephen, for they were not able to answer him, he preached so wisely and with such power; and when people will not believe the truth, and find they cannot reply to the one who tells them of it, they very often get angry with him instead. That was the way in which Sephen was brought before the council in Jerusalem.

His appearance before his judges was very remarkable. People who saw him said that his face shone like an angel’s. Then after his accusers had brought witnesses to tell what he had been saying against Moses, the holy man began to answer for himself. His words were calm and wise and brave; but he was not allowed to close what he meant to say. He had begun by going back to the time when God called Abram from his own country, to a land which he promised to show him, and to give to his seed. He had then gone on to tell what happened to the fathers of the Jews, and showed his hearers how well he had studied their history. But when coming to the times of Solomon and of the building of the temple, he threw in a word about the Most High not dwelling in such houses as men could build, “since heaven was his throne, and earth his footstool,” and he might well therefore ask “what house will ye build me, and where is the place of my rest?” -- they showed signs that they would hear him no longer. He had only, indeed, been quoting to them one of their own prophets, out of the Old Testament scriptures; but thinking they saw what he was coming to, they grew hot with rage, and would not listen. So he had to address to them some stern, true, words of rebuke, and stop speaking. For stung to the heart by what he had said, they became quite mad, gnashing their teeth with fury, and showing that they were ready to tear him in pieces, like as many wild beasts.

I think it is likely that there were some dear friends of Stephen who were looking on with love to him, and pity, and distress, but they were not able to help him against his angry enemies. There was One, however, who was looking down on that scene from the sky, who was going to help him in a strange way. Jesus saw all that was being done; and now when rage was round about his faithful servant, and he was about to be dragged to death, he made him turn away his eyes from earth to heaven, and showed him what cheered his heart, and prepared him to meet a cruel martyrdom. For when he looked up, he saw the sky open above his head, and a bright glory shining, which told of the presence of God; and there in the midst of the glory, on God’s right hand, was Jesus standing, the very Jesus for love to whom he was soon to die. When Stephen saw this sight he could not keep from telling of it, and he said, Think what I see; heaven open, and Jesus the Son of man standing on the right hand of God! No sooner had he said this than the people round, stopping their ears with their fingers or hands, as if his words were too horrid to be listened to, rushed on him, and carried him out of the town into the fields, to stone him to death. They soon carried their purpose into execution. The witnesses against him, as the first who were to cast stones at him, stripped off their cloaks and ran eagerly to strike him down, and others followed, till he staggered under their blows, and the blood was flowing over his person. It was a cruel sight.

But it was a grand sight too, so far as Stephen was concerned. He never spoke for Christ so nobly as now he suffered for him. He must have thought much of how Christ himself died on the cross. For he did not utter a complaint, he did not say a harsh word of his very murderers, and he showed no fear of death. He knew he was going away up, to be where he had seen his Lord as if waiting to take him to himself. As they were still casting stones at him, he was heard saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. After that he kneeled down upon the ground, feeling too weak even to stagger further, and closed his life by praying for the cruel men who were killing him. He had learned, you see, from Him who prayed, when he was being nailed to the cruel cross, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

In telling how, after that, the martyr died, the Bible uses a very striking and pleasing expression. It says he fell asleep, as if he had just lain down on his bed, as if he had felt no pain, and had but dropped off into a night’s sleep. But it is true that death to God’s dear children is only a sleep. Their bodies not only rest in the grave, but their souls are at rest with God, and then their bodies are to wake up in the morning. They shall rise again, to be weak and frail and weary no more. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

It is not said that there were chariots of fire waiting to receive Stephen, and to carry him like Elijah up into heaven. But I have no doubt the angels were there, to do for him what Christ says they did for Lazarus. There were friends too of the martyr on the earth, who made haste to honour him. When the crowd had spent their rage, and gone home from their bloody work, those who loved Stephen gathered round the spot where he had fallen, and lifted him from the ground wet with his blood, grieved to find he was, indeed, dead. I think they would close his wounds, and wash his bruises, and wrap his corpse in spices and linen: for such was the way in which the Jews buried their dead. Then next day, or perhaps that evening, there was a gathering of devout men--some Jews, perhaps, among them who had not yet received Jesus, but knew and esteemed the wise, holy and good follower of Christ--to carry his dust to the grave. There was a great sorrow among his brethren: so excellent a man, so enlightened a teacher, so brave and powerful a preacher of the faith of Jesus, had fallen so cruelly. It is not surprising that they were very sad, and lamented over him so sorely. Yet they did not sorrow over him as those who had no hope, either for him or themselves. How could they grieve for him, after his words about seeing Jesus? and though they must have felt that the loss to them was great, yet surely their trust in Jesus, and their love to him, must have been helped by seeing how he could make his own children brave to die. Jesus still lived, and would watch over his own, strengthening them alike for doing and suffering.

Jesus was watching over his own; he was preparing to make the very persecution that was now to rage turn to the advancing of his cause. There was one especially, who had been present at Stephen’s death, and had taken a chief part in the scene, who was soon to change his course. How that came about I must tell in another story. But this other thing happened: the persecution grew so hot in Jerusalem, that many believers in Christ fled from it; but then, wherever they preached the gospel, and those very cruelties that were intended to crush the faith of Christ only served to spread it.



1. Can you name two others who were accused of speaking against Moses and the temple?

2. Do you remember where we are told that the enemies of Jesus, angry at his words, sought to stone him?

3. Whose face do we read about in the Old Testament as shining with a heavenly light?

4. What prophet of the Old Testament did Stephen quote, when he was speaking about God’s not dwelling in temples made with hands?

5. Who are mentioned by name as standing by the cross of Jesus when he died?

6. Which of the apostles was it that saw a door opened in heaven?

7. Over whose head were the skies opened, when one was seen to descend?

8. Is Christ always said to stand at the right hand of God?

9. Can you find the law which says, that in cases of persons condemned to die by stoning, the witnesses were to be the first to cast stones?

10. What good man was it that died by stoning, whose last words were a prayer for justice, not for mercy?

11. Give another instance in which the death of believers is called by the name of sleep?

12. Whose funeral was it that attracted the attention of strangers, by the great mourning made by those who attended it?

13. Who was it that was buried without human hands?

ANSWERS to the foregoing questions will be found by consulting the chapters subjoined: -- Matt. xxvi. and Acts xxi.; John x.; Exod. xxxiv.; Isa. lxvi.; John xix. and Mark xv.; Rev. iv.; Matt. iii., Ps. cx., and Heb. i.; Deut. xvii; 2 Chron. xxiv.; 1 Thess. iv.; Gen. 1.; Deut. xxxiv.



O GOD, we praise thee for the grace which made men brave in former times to die for Jesus. We thank Thee for the blessings which we inherit in this our own country in consequence of the sufferings of our fathers, who loved not their lives so well as they loved their Lord and His truth. We pray that Thou wouldst help those that at this time are sufferers for righteousness’ sake; and plead that Thou wouldst soon put an end to all oppression and all persecution in the world. We pray for this, Lord, both for the sake of those who are wronged, and for the good of those who do the wrong. Lord, when we come to die, may our death be indeed a falling on sleep. And when Jesus comes to call men from their graves, may we be among those who shall wake to glory, and go to be with Christ for ever. All this we ask in His blessed name.-- Amen.



GOD our Creator, Redeemer, and Judge of all men, we humbly confess our sins and acknowledge our guilt before Thee, beseeching of Thee to grant us true repentance for the same, so that we, turning away from all our iniquities, may return to Thyself; having faith in Thy mercy vouchsafed to us through Jesus Christ who died for us, and desiring evermore to abide in Him, and to bring forth fruit through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, to whom, with Thee and Thine eternal Son, be glory for ever. Amen.

HYMN, or Psalm civ. 31-34.

HOLY and rev’rend is the name
Of our eternal King;
Thrice holy, Lord, the angels cry,
Thrice holy let us sing!

Holy is he, in all his works,
And truth is his delight;
But sinners and their wicked ways
Shall perish from his sight.

The deepest rev’rence of the mind,
Pay, O my soul, to God!
Lift with thy hands a holy heart
To his sublime abode!

With sacred awe pronounce his name,
Whom words nor thoughts can reach;
A broken heart shall please him more
Than the best forms of speech.

Thou holy God! preserve my soul
From all pollution free;
The pure in heart are thy delight,
And they thy face shall see!

MATTHEW V. 1-16.

AND seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain; and when he was set, his disciples came unto him. 2. And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9. Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. 12. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 13. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14. Ye are the light of the world, A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

MATTHEW V. 43-48.

YE have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46. For if you love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47. And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.



O GOD, another day draws to its close, and it our privilege, through Thy great mercy in Christ, to wait upon Thee. We have good cause and much need so to do. We give Thee thanks that we are spared. Amidst dangers, seen and unseen, Thou hast preserved us. Our lives are lengthened out, and Thou hast given us all things richly to enjoy. Thou hast fed and clothed and protected us. Thou hast given us opportunities of doing and receiving good. “Thy word has been a light to our feet and a lamp to our path.” “What shall we render unto Thee for all Thy benefits!” We accept them all as the gift of thy love in Jesus Christ. But, alas! how unworthy we are of them. The more we think of them, the more we are ashamed of ourselves--our ingratitude, our unworthiness, our unfaithfulness, and sinfulness. Lord, forgive us for Christ’s sake. Wash us afresh in His blood, for it alone cleanseth from all sin. Daily and constantly we need to enter into this fountain for the removal of sin and uncleanness. Yet, sprinkled with this incense, we venture to offer to Thee the services and labours of the day. May they and we be accepted in the Beloved. We know that in themselves and in us they must be worthless and vile in Thy sight; but Thou hast said, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” May our lives ever serve this blessed end. May our daily walk adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. In our personal deportment, in our family relations, in our intercourse with others, may we be holy and consistent, “shining as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.” Wherein we have been honoured to have any part in Thy service and cause on the earth, may our sayings, or doing, or givings be accepted for Christ’s sake. And now, O Lord, bestow Thy blessing upon us in the closing of the day. Say Thou to us, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you.” Give us those blessings and a sweet assurance of them. May we each be enabled ruly to say -- “O, to grace how great a debtor! daily I’m constrained to be.” May we be sensible that the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts. May we have a sweet consciousness that we enjoy the communion of the Holy Ghost. May we have His life and light and liberty. So may we be constrained to say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” And in this spirit may we retire to the rest of the night, each saying, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit; Thou has redeemed me:” “I will lay me down in peace and take quiet sleep, for Thou only makest me to dwell in safety.” All we ask is for Christ’s sake. Amen.





And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease.

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

But go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Luke v. 17. Matt. x. 1, 5, 6, 7, 8.


Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

But beware of men for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues:

And ye shall be bought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

Matt. x. 16, 17, 18, 19.



If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Remember the word that I said unto you. The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

But all these things they will do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin.

He that hateth me, hateth my Father also.

John xv. 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23.


For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.

Matt. xviii. 20. Matt. xxviii. 20. John xiv. 14, 16, 17, 18.



For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee.

At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Acts xviii. 10. 2 Tim. iv. 16. 1 John i. 3. Rev. iii. 20, 21.


I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.

And I will set up one Shepherd over them, and he shall feed them.

For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

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.

John x. 11. Ezek. xxxiv. 6, 23. 1 Pet. ii. 25. Matt. xviii. 13.



In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Make you perfect in every good work to do his will,

working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Zech. xiii. 1. Acts ii. 39. Heb. xiii. 20, 21.


Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Isa. xxv. 9. Isa. lii. 8, 9, 10.



He shall save his people from their sins.

Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us.

Matt. i. 21. Isa. lxiii. 1. Matt. xviii. 11. Luke i. 68, 69.


For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.

Of this man’s seed hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.

Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Luke ii.11, 29, 30. Acts xiii. 23. Rom. v. 9.



For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads:

they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

1 Cor. vi. 20. Job. xxxiii. 24. Acts xx. 28. Matt. xx. 28. Isa. xxxv. 10.


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted.

There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Luke iv. 18. Rom. xi. 26. Gal. i. 4. 4. Gal. v. 1. Rom. viii. 2.

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