"These all died in faith, not having received the
promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them,
and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and
pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly
that they seek a country."—Heb. xi. 13, 14.
Do I declare this plainly? Am I willing to be
known as one of those strangers and pilgrims who do not make themselves
at home on the earth, but are known to be seeking another country? Or am
I content to do as others do, and pass for one of the world's children,
without being observed to differ from them in any way, so as to incur
the reproach of Christ? Ah, there are too many, who, while not willing
to give up the narrow way that leadeth unto life, are yet ashamed to be
seen in it. Lord, grant that I may fully follow Thee! Far from me
and mine be this half-heartedness which shrinks from declaring plainly,
the hope, and the faith, and the love, which are the only things worth
living for! May the example of these early saints stir me up!
How much more clear is the light vouchsafed to me
than any that they had, when they saw afar off objects of faith which
they yet grasped so firmly! May the same Spirit who led them be my guide
to the "heavenly country," which they have long ages ago safely reached!
"In Thy footsteps now uphold me,
That I stumble not nor stray;
When the narrow way is told me,
Never let me ling'ring stay,
But come my weary soul to cheer;
Oh, shine, Eternal Sunbeam, here!"
"This man, because he continueth ever, hath an
unchangeable priesthood."—Heb. vii. 24.
Blessed be God that we have such an High Priest!
Without Him how could we dare approach the throne? How could we dare
lift up our guilty faces before Him? Blessed be God for the one,
perfect, once-offered sacrifice, and blessed be God for the continued,
powerful, all-prevailing intercession of our High Priest. Since St Paul
wrote these words concerning this priesthood, how many centuries have
passed away, how many generations have vanished from the world, and how
many poor sinners have been reconciled to God, by Him who, in His
unchangeable priesthood, "continueth ever!'" Of all the great
multitude before the throne—a multitude which no man can number—not one
has been brought there without the work and intercession of this High
Priest; how great, then, is His glory in man's salvation! Without Him,
none can be saved, for "there is none other name under heaven given
among men, whereby we must be saved." Of those who are in Him, none can
be lost, for " they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out
of my hand." Keep me thus safe in Thy hand, O my Saviour!
"Where high the heavenly temple stands,
The house of God not made with hands,
A great High Priest our nature wears,
The guardian of mankind appears.
"He who on earth our surety stood,
And pour'd on earth His precious blood,
Pursues in heaven His mighty plan,
The Saviour and the Friend of man."
"Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that
speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil
of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art
not a doer of the law, but a judge." —James iv. 11.
How is it that he who speaketh evil of his brother,
speaketh evil of the law? Against what law does he offend? Not that of
the ninth commandment perhaps, for he may not be guilty of bearing
false witness against his neighbour; he offends against a wider law,
even that which says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;" "love
worketh no ill to his neighbour," and love speaketh no ill of
him. "Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this
law." Its requirements are exceeding broad; they bid us speak no evil,
write no evil, think no evil, one of another. They bind us
together as brethren, yes, and closer than some brethren are
bound. And to fulfil them as our heavenly Father would have us do, we
must seek to have His Spirit, the spirit of love dwelling in our hearts,
that we may not only exercise that passive charity which will speak no
evil of our brethren, but the active charity which speaks good to them,
and (if possible) good of them,—the charity which will lead us to be "
kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God
for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the
Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he
remembereth that we are dust." —Ps. ciii. 13-14.
God has given us the love of fathers and of mothers
to teach us what His own love is. He gave to parents' hearts those deep
feelings, that devoted love, that tender care; He then speaks to us in
His Word, and tells us that these are types, and but feeble types of His
own care, and tenderness, and love. ''Can a woman forget her sucking
child? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." But where is
the faith that should answer this love with returns of that perfect
confidence which happy children place in loving earthly parents ? If we
are indeed of the number of those that fear Him, the thought of His
fatherly pity ought to be a continual source of comfort and strength to
our hearts. He pities us because He knows us; and He knows us better
than any on earth—better than we know ourselves. Many a friend would
turn from us if they knew us as He does; but even because of His
knowledge He pities, for " He remembers that we are dust." O heavenly
Father, who art so loving because Thou art so great, and so pitying
because Thou knowest our frame, "mercifully look upon our infirmities,
and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth Thy right hand to
help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
"Then let our hearts no more despond,
Our hands be weak no more;
Still let us trust our Father's love,
His wisdom still adore."
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."—2 Tim. i. 7.
How rich are His gifts! How complete is the
man who has the spirit of power, the spirit of love, and the spirit of a
sound mind; while the spirit of fear is cast out, for "perfect love
casteth out fear,"—and all this is recognised
as being the work of God's Holy Spirit in that renewed heart. Let us
consider what great things God has promised to do for us, that we may
ask largely, for has He not said, " Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill
it?" Let us seek deliverance from the spirit of fear; it proceeds
from a sense of guilt on the conscience, let us therefore take all our
guilt and sins to the blood of Christ, and seek by faith in His perfect
work and atonement, to be delivered from all our guilty fears. Then we
are to ask and expect Him to give the spirit of power; strength
to resist temptation, power to work our Lord's work on earth; and this
is to be sweetly tempered with the gentler graces of the spirit of
love, for this is the very Spirit of Christ, and we cannot be true
Christians without it. The spirit of a sound mind is of no less
importance to us; this does not mean the natural wisdom and sound
judgment which many persons possess who have not been taught of God, but
that spirit of a sound mind which is full of heavenly wisdom to see the
things of eternity in their true light. Lord, "that we may obtain that
which Thou dost promise, make us to love that which Thou dost command."