ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
“He went on his way rejoicing.”—Acts viii. 39.
HE came worshipping. All the way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem he journeyed, to do homage to the one true God. My soul will never approach Him in vain, if it approaches Him with such earnestness and such lowliness, such whole-hearted intensity of desire and expectation—
“Like plants in mines which never saw the sun,
But dream of him, and guess where he may be,
And do their best to climb and get to him.”
To this man He will look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at His word.
He returned searching. For in Jerusalem he had not found all that he sought, and he still continued reading in the book of the Evangelical Prophet. It is a lesson to me: not to be spasmodic, and fitful, and easily discouraged in my quest of the divinest blessings ; to knock and knock till the door is opened to me. Goodwill, the porter, loves a persistent and importunate seeker. Then shall I know, if I follow on to know the Lord.
He went on his way rejoicing. Afier the midnight of weeping, after the twilight of dimness and uncertainty, his was the daydawn of unspeakable gladness. So Christ, if I inquire after Him, if I cling about His feet and refuse to let Him go, will bless me with the assurance of His pardoning mercy, with the sweetness of His sanctifying grace, with the delights of communion with Himself, with the inheritance that fadeth not awuy. The vision will not always tarry.
Let me repeat the eunuch’s significant history, and I shall be diademed with his crown.
YET A LITTLE WHILE
“Ye know not on what day your Lord cometh.”—Matthew 24:42
SO many and so different are the days of my earthly life, and on any one of them my Lord may come. It is a thought to hallow them all.
It may be a day of ordinary business and toil. Then whatsoever I do I must do heartily, as unto my Master. If He should surprise me when I am engaged in my usual task, He must find the task honourably and faithfully and fully discharged. Let mine be the eye which ” winces at false work, and loves the true.”
It may be a day of weakness and suffering. Then I must suffer patiently, meekly, quietly, even thankfully. I must kiss the cross which He has laid on my shoulders. I must show that His grace has a marvellous power to sustain me. How sorrowstricken I shall be if, when He comes, He hears me murmur and complain!
It may be a day bright with a special gladness and success. Then I must trace my joy to no secondary and subordinate cause but to Him, and must praise Him for it, and must glory not in myself but in His goodness and mercy. It will be an eternal regret to me if He should discover me boastful and proud.
It may be a day of worship and prayer. Then there must be the reality behind the form. No fair and seemly dress must cover a heart hollow and insincere. How infinitely mournful it will be if, in His searching eyes, my religion should be hypocrisy, and my holy things a falsehood!
This day let me live as though my Lord were to show Himself to me now.:
“He cometh soon! at dawn or noon,
Or set of sun, He cometh soon!”
A HAPPY WINNOWING
“Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor.”—Matthew 3:12.
HE fan of Jesus is in His hand, and He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing-floor.
The words are not words of terror alone. They do not tell me simply that He will separate false souls from true at last, those who have merely a name to live from those within whom the power of godliness dwells and advances. That is solemn fact which I have need to lay to heart ; but there is more than that.
The words are words of richest comfort also. For the wheat and the chaff are within the same life— the life which the Saviour has redeemed and is regenerating from day to day. Is this life mine?
Then in my history He will employ His winnowing and cleansing fan. It is the fan of His testing and purifying providence. It is the fan of His teaching and purging Word. It is the fan of His sifting and sanctifying Spirit. Through one agency and through another He will busy Himself about my nature, until all that is worthless and all that is evil have gone from me completely and for ever.
He can be satisfied with nothing short of my absolute and stainless perfection. It will mean a long, long patience on His part. It will mean an arduous and sometimes an agonising discipline for me. But by and by the chaff will have disappeared from my soul. By and by I shall be pure and ripe and precious wheat, which, in His great harvest home, He will carry with joy into His heavenly garner. It is a hope which may bring tears of gladness to my eyes. It is an expectation to fill my heart with melody and music.
NONE OF SELF, ALL OF THEE
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”—John 3:30
IT is how I am justified and forgiven. Not by the hopeless endeavour to win and fight my way to the favour of God and the Celestial City; but by looking to Jesus only, and by leaning on Him absolutely.
“Nothing in my hands I bring.
Simply to Thy cross I cling.”
It is how I find assurance. I am tossed with tempest, overcast with doubt, haunted with fear, while I scrutinise my frames and feelings ; but when I fix; my gaze on Him, so all-sufficient, so perfect, the morning awakens and the shadows decay; lo, the winter is past, and the flowers appear. For my own comfort I would see Him as a glorious Sun filling my firmament.
It is how I grow holy. While indeed I am bidden work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, it must not be as if everything depended on me : it must rather be by a perpetual faith in Him, and a perpetual prayer to Him, who worketh in me to will and to do: the battle is not mine but His. He sows the seed and He ripens the harvest. He lays the foundation and puts the copestone in its fitting place.
It is how I shall be glorified in the end. Self will have vanished in the better country, and Christ will be All. I shall follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. I shall find my safety, my peace, my victory, in keeping very close to Him. He will be familiar, and yet He will be new every morning. And I shall discover in Him a subject of study, and wonder, and worship, and love, that is illimitable and unfathomable.
Yes. He must increase, but I must decrease.
THEN AND NOW
“At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”— Ephesians 2:12
CHRISTLESS I was in the old time. I had heard of Jesus with the hearing of the ear, but I did not know Him. He was not my Saviour, my Teacher, my King, my Friend—the Necessity of my life, to whom I turned perpetually and gladly. I was separate from Christ.
Homeless I was in the old time. I was frequently within the walls of the church, but I found no heartjoy in it. It was not the Palace Beautiful to me ; it was not my spiritual birthplace, my resort, my delight. I was alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.
Messageless I was in the old time. The Bible was often in my hands—no book so often. But its warnings did not move me, its precepts did not command me, its good news did not rejoice me. I was a stranger from the covenants of promise.
Hopeless I was in the old time. Probably I professed to believe in my immortality. But the belief, whenever I looked it fairly in the face, brought me alarm. I would have preferred to ” have drunken of Lethe at last, to have eaten of lotus.” For I had no hope.
Godless I was in the old time. Not an atheist in theory and by profession, but practically an atheist. Not governed by the thought of His presence who fills all heaven and earth. Not rejoicing in His fellowship. Not seeking His glory. Nay, I was without God in the world which God’s fingers made.
My Lord, who hast changed all this, I will look back to-day to the pit whence Thou hast digged me. It will deepen my humility. It will heighten my praise.
JESUS BROOKS NO RIVAL
“Neither is there salvation in any other.”—Acts 4:12
HERE is the holy intolerance and exclusiveness of the gospel of Christ. It will brook no rival to Him who is its Centre and its Glory. It crowns Him supreme and only Lord.
Modern culture makes much of other saviours. Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, stand almost on a level with Jesus. It reverences them well-nigh as much.
“One in a Judaean manger,
And one by Avon stream,
One over against the mouths of Nile,
And one in the Academe “—
that is what it says. But there is none other name.
And society turns to other refuges. It is impatient of the old-fashioned creed, that outside of Christ there is no help or hope. It has its own conventions and rules and ideals; and if a man honour them, he has nothing to fear. They must surely be without reproach who abide by its standards and who win its respect. But there is none other name.
And my own heart would seek its life and peace elsewhere—In my prayers, my gifts, my tears, my labours. In the good opinion of my fellows, and the approval of my own conscience. In my indifference to the sterner side of God’s character and my neglect of the terrors of the Lord. In my hopes and dreams that all will go well. But—but there is none other name.
It is an all-sufficing Name. Let me esteem it my one Foundation, one Hiding-place, one Hope. Jesus, the Puritans said, had one hundred and eight names; and in every one of them there is salvation, free and full/present and eternal.
I WILL LIFT UP MINE EYES
“When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord.” —Jonah 2:7
When my soul faints within me, I will remember my Lord. That memory is the best of medicines and anodynes.
For instance, I will remember His promises. Those gracious words of His—every one of them His strong and unfaltering “Yea” in Christ Jesus—they are stars of heaven kindled for my comfort in the darkest night. They are as countless as the stars and as bright and full of cheer.
And I will remember His mighty deeds. I am not by any means the first pilgrim to pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Multitudes have been in its gloom and peril before me, and each of them He has delivered out of his distresses. Me, too. He will bless and keep. For me He will do as much as for those who have gone this way before.
And I will remember His glorious attributes. “Infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth” —what a crowd of shining perfections I have here! And they are all enlisted on my side; they are all my strong defenders and allies.
And I will remember His experience. For— strange, yet blessed truth—my God has been out in the loneliness before me. He has drained a far bitterer cup than mine. But to-day He wears the crown that will never fade. And He has said that I am to follow Him through sorrow to glory, through death to life.
Is it not a potent and priceless memory—the memory of the Lord?
1. Blest is he who loves God’s precepts,
Who from sin restrains his feet,
He who will not stand with sinners,
He who shuns the scorners’ seat.
2. Blest is he who makes the statutes
Of the Lord his chief delight,
In God’s law, divinely perfect,
Meditating day and night.
3. He is like a tree well planted
By the flowing river’s side,
Ever green of leaf and fruitful:
Thus shall all his works abide.
4. Like the driven chaff the wicked
Shall be swept from off the land;
With the just they shall not gather,
Nor shall in the judgment stand.
5. Well the Lord will guard the righteous,
For their way to Him is known;
But the way of evil-doers
Shall by Him be over thrown.