Evening, January 12th, 2022

“Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God’s behalf.”— Job 36:2

We ought not to court publicity for our virtue, or notoriety for our zeal; but, at the same time, it is a sin to be always seeking to hide that which God has bestowed upon us for the good of others.

A Christian is not to be a village in a valley, but “a city set upon a hill;” he is not to be a candle under a bushel, but a candle in a candlestick, giving light to all.

Retirement may be lovely in its season, and to hide one’s self is doubtless modest, but the hiding of Christ in us can never be justified, and the keeping back of truth which is precious to ourselves is a sin against others and an offence against God.

If you are of a nervous temperament and of retiring disposition, take care that you do not too much indulge this trembling propensity, lest you should be useless to the church.

Seek in the name of him who was not ashamed of you to do some little violence to your feelings, and tell to others what Christ has told to you. If thou canst not speak with trumpet tongue, use the still small voice.

If the pulpit must not be thy tribune, if the press may not carry on its wings thy words, yet say with Peter and John, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee.”

By Sychar’s well talk to the Samaritan woman, if thou canst not on the mountain preach a sermon; utter the praises of Jesus in the house, if not in the temple; in the field, if not upon the exchange; in the midst of thine own household, if thou canst not in the midst of the great family of man.

From the hidden springs within let sweetly flowing rivulets of testimony flow forth, giving drink to every passer-by. Hide not thy talent; trade with it; and thou shalt bring in good interest to thy Lord and Master.

To speak for God will be refreshing to ourselves, cheering to saints, useful to sinners and honouring to the Saviour. Dumb children are an affliction to their parents. Lord, unloose all thy children’s tongue.

Morning, January 12th, 2022

“And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”— 1 Corinthians 3:23

“Ye are Christ’s.”

You are his by donation, for the Father gave you to the Son; his by his bloody purchase, for he counted down the price for your redemption; his by dedication, for you have consecrated yourself to him; his by relation, for you are named by his name, and made one of his brethren and joint-heirs.

Labour practically to show the world that you are the servant, the friend, the bride of Jesus. When tempted to sin, reply, “I cannot do this great wickedness, for I am Christ’s.” Immortal principles forbid the friend of Christ to sin.

When wealth is before you to be won by sin, say that you are Christ’s, and touch it not.

Are you exposed to difficulties and dangers? Stand fast in the evil day, remembering that you are Christ’s.

Are you placed where others are sitting down idly, doing nothing? Rise to the work with all your powers; and when the sweat stands upon your brow, and you are tempted to loiter, cry, “No, I cannot stop, for I am Christ’s. If I were not purchased by blood, I might be like Issachar, crouching between two burdens; but I am Christ’s, and cannot loiter.”

When the siren song of pleasure would tempt you from the path of right, reply, “Thy music cannot charm me; I am Christ’s.”

When the cause of God invites thee, give thy goods and thyself away, for thou art Christ’s. Never belie thy profession.

Be thou ever one of those whose manners are Christian, whose speech is like the Nazarene, whose conduct and conversation are so redolent of heaven, that all who see you may know that you are the Saviour’s, recognizing in you his features of love and his countenance of holiness.

“I am a Roman!” was of old a reason for integrity; far more, then, let it be your argument for holiness, “I am Christ’s!”

Morning, January 10th, 2022

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”— 2 Timothy 4:8

Doubting one! thou hast often said, “I fear I shall never enter heaven.” Fear not! all the people of God shall enter there.

I love the quaint saying of a dying man, who exclaimed, “I have no fear of going home; I have sent all before me; God’s finger is on the latch of my door, and I am ready for him to enter.”

“But,” said one, “are you not afraid lest you should miss your inheritance?”

“Nay,” said he, “nay; there is one crown in heaven which the angel Gabriel could not wear, it will fit no head but mine. There is one throne in heaven which Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it.”

O Christian, what a joyous thought! thy portion is secure; “there remaineth a rest.”

“But cannot I forfeit it?” No, it is entailed. If I be a child of God I shall not lose it. It is mine as securely as if I were there. Come with me, believer, and let us sit upon the top of Nebo, and view the goodly land, even Canaan.

Seest thou that little river of death glistening in the sunlight, and across it dost thou see the pinnacles of the eternal city? Dost thou mark the pleasant country, and all its joyous inhabitants? Know, then, that if thou couldst fly across thou wouldst see written upon one of its many mansions, “This remaineth for such a one; preserved for him only. He shall be caught up to dwell forever with God.”

Poor doubting one, see the fair inheritance; it is thine. If thou believest in the Lord Jesus, if thou hast repented of sin, if thou hast been renewed in heart, thou art one of the Lord’s people, and there is a place reserved for thee, a crown laid up for thee, a harp specially provided for thee.

No one else shall have thy portion, it is reserved in heaven for thee, and thou shalt have it ere long, for there shall be no vacant thrones in glory when all the chosen are gathered in.

Evening, January 9th, 2022

“Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”— Psalm 100:2

Delight in divine service is a token of acceptance. Those who serve God with a sad countenance, because they do what is unpleasant to them, are not serving him at all; they bring the form of homage, but the life is absent.

Our God requires no slaves to grace his throne; he is the Lord of the empire of love, and would have his servants dressed in the livery of joy. The angels of God serve him with songs, not with groans; a murmur or a sigh would be a mutiny in their ranks.

That obedience which is not voluntary is disobedience, for the Lord looketh at the heart, and if he seeth that we serve him from force, and not because we love him, he will reject our offering. Service coupled with cheerfulness is heart-service, and therefore true.

Take away joyful willingness from the Christian, and you have removed the test of his sincerity. If a man be driven to battle, he is no patriot; but he who marches into the fray with flashing eye and beaming face, singing, “It is sweet for one’s country to die,” proves himself to be sincere in his patriotism.

Cheerfulness is the support of our strength; in the joy of the Lord are we strong. It acts as the remover of difficulties. It is to our service what oil is to the wheels of a railway carriage. Without oil the axle soon grows hot, and accidents occur; and if there be not a holy cheerfulness to oil our wheels, our spirits will be clogged with weariness.

The man who is cheerful in his service of God, proves that obedience is his element; he can sing,

     “Make me to walk in thy commands,
       ‘Tis a delightful road.”

Reader, let us put this question—do you serve the Lord with gladness? Let us show to the people of the world, who think our religion to be slavery, that it is to us a delight and a joy! Let our gladness proclaim that we serve a good Master.

Evening, January 8th, 2022

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”— Song of Solomon 1:2

Nothing gives the believer so much joy as fellowship with Christ. He has enjoyment as others have in the common mercies of life, he can be glad both in God’s gifts and God’s works; but in all these separately, yea, and in all of them added together, he doth not find such substantial delight as in the matchless person of his Lord Jesus.

He has wine which no vineyard on earth ever yielded; he has bread which all the corn-fields of Egypt could never bring forth. Where can such sweetness be found as we have tasted in communion with our Beloved?

In our esteem, the joys of earth are little better than husks for swine compared with Jesus, the heavenly manna. We would rather have one mouthful of Christ’s love, and a sip of his fellowship, than a whole world full of carnal delights.

What is the chaff to the wheat? What is the sparkling paste to the true diamond? What is a dream to the glorious reality? What is time’s mirth, in its best trim, compared to our Lord Jesus in his most despised estate?

If you know anything of the inner life, you will confess that our highest, purest and most enduring joys must be the fruit of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. No spring yields such sweet water as that well of God which was digged with the soldier’s spear.

All earthly bliss is of the earth earthy, but the comforts of Christ’s presence are like himself, heavenly. We can review our communion with Jesus, and find no regrets of emptiness therein; there are no dregs in this wine, no dead flies in this ointment.

The joy of the Lord is solid and enduring. Vanity hath not looked upon it, but discretion and prudence testify that it abideth the test of years, and is in time and in eternity worthy to be called “the only true delight.”

For nourishment, consolation, exhilaration and refreshment, no wine can rival the love of Jesus. Let us drink to the full this evening.

Morning, January 8th, 2022

“And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.”— Exodus 28:38

What a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight.

The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart and forgetfulness of God, what a full measure have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief, what a mass of defilement is there!

Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness and vanity, what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully we should find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight.

Dr. Payson, writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the melioration of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence.

“I look at the weeds which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? It may be that I may walk out and say to myself, In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride.

“Or, it may be that my neighbours may look over the wall and say, How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity.

“Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence.”

So that even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill motives. Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them. How cheering is the thought, that when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow the words, “Holiness to the Lord:” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, he presents before his Father’s face not our unholiness, but his own holiness.

O for grace to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!

Evening, January 7th, 2022

“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.”— Song of Solomon 4:12

Observe the sweet titles with which the heavenly Solomon with intense affection addresses his bride the church. “My sister, one near to me by ties of nature, partaker of the same sympathies. My spouse, nearest and dearest, united to me by the tenderest bands of love; my sweet companion, part of my own self.

My sister, by my Incarnation, which makes me bone of thy bone and flesh of thy flesh; my spouse, by heavenly betrothal, in which I have espoused thee unto myself in righteousness. My sister, whom I knew of old, and over whom I watched from her earliest infancy; my spouse, taken from among the daughters, embraced by arms of love, and affianced unto me forever.

See how true it is that our royal Kinsman is not ashamed of us, for he dwells with manifest delight upon this two-fold relationship. We have the word “my” twice in our version; as if Christ dwelt with rapture on his possession of his Church.

“His delights were with the sons of men,” because those sons of men were his own chosen ones. He, the Shepherd, sought the sheep, because they were his sheep; he has gone about “to seek and to save that which was lost,” because that which was lost was his long before it was lost to itself or lost to him.

The church is the exclusive portion of her Lord; none else may claim a partnership, or pretend to share her love. Jesus, thy church delights to have it so! Let every believing soul drink solace out of these wells.

Soul! Christ is near to thee in ties of relationship; Christ is dear to thee in bonds of marriage union, and thou art dear to him; behold he grasps both of thy hands with both his own, saying, “My sister, my spouse.”

Mark the two sacred holdfasts by which thy Lord gets such a double hold of thee that he neither can nor will ever let thee go. Be not, O beloved, slow to return the hallowed flame of his love.

Morning, January 7th, 2022

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”— Philippians 1:21

The believer did not always live to Christ. He began to do so when God the Holy Spirit convinced him of sin, and when by grace he was brought to see the dying Saviour making a propitiation for his guilt.

From the moment of the new and celestial birth the man begins to live to Christ. Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have.

He has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for him; to his glory we would live, and in defence of his gospel we would die; he is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character.

Paul’s words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ–nay, his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life.

Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ?

Your business—are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self-aggrandizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, “Is that a mean reason?” For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery?

Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the true life of a Christian—its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one word—Christ Jesus.

Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in thee and to thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plough and the altar, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, “Ready for either.”

Evening, December 30th, 2021

“Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour for ever? knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how long shall it be then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren?”— 2 Samuel 2:26

If, O my reader! thou art merely a professor, and not a possessor of the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the following lines are a true sketch of thine end.

You are a respectable attendant at a place of worship; you go because others go, not because your heart is right with God. This is your beginning. I will suppose that for the next twenty or thirty years you will be spared to go on as you do now, professing religion by an outward attendance upon the means of grace, but having no heart in the matter.

Tread softly, for I must show you the deathbed of such a one as yourself. Let us gaze upon him gently. A clammy sweat is on his brow, and he wakes up crying, “O God, it is hard to die. Did you send for my minister?”

“Yes, he is coming.” The minister comes.

“Sir, I fear that I am dying!”

“Have you any hope?”

“I cannot say that I have. I fear to stand before my God; oh! pray for me.” The prayer is offered for him with sincere earnestness, and the way of salvation is for the ten-thousandth time put before him, but before he has grasped the rope, I see him sink.

I may put my finger upon those cold eyelids, for they will never see anything here again. But where is the man, and where are the man’s true eyes? It is written, “In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.”

Ah! why did he not lift up his eyes before? Because he was so accustomed to hear the gospel that his soul slept under it. Alas! if you should lift up your eyes there, how bitter will be your wailings.

Let the Saviour’s own words reveal the woe: “Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” There is a frightful meaning in those words.

May you never have to spell it out by the red light of Jehovah’s wrath!

Morning, December 30th, 2021

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”— Ecclesiastes 7:8

Look at David’s Lord and Master; see his beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at his Father’s right hand, expecting until his enemies be made his footstool.

“As he is, so are we also in this world.” You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”

See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof.

That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like him, for you shall see him as he is. Be content to be like him, a worm and no man, that like him you may be satisfied when you wake up in his likeness.

That rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much—much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch’s head with trumpet’s joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary.

You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God’s people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you.

“They shall be mine,” saith the Lord, “in the day when I make up my jewels.”

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”