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us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering."—Why ? " For He is faithful that promised.”
This characteristic of the great God, is also illustrated in his keeping his covenant. There is a difference between covenants and promises, and generally, more importance is attached to a covenant than to a promise. We find, therefore, that God took an oath, and because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself ;hence his covenant “ standeth sure.” David says it was “ ordered in all things and sure.” Moses tells us that God keepeth his covenant to a thousand generations (not years), Deut. vii. 9. And David, ever ready to shew forth the praises of his best friend, says, (Psa. cxi. 5)“ He will ever be mindful of his covenant.”
We thus see that the spirit and desire to place on record their faith and trust in the unchangeability of God, ran through all the writings of the ancient saints ;hence it appears in the apostles' writings, and Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, continuing the exhortations of the inspired writers, tells them that God shall confirm them unto the end ; and lest they be doubtful of this, he adds the words, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called.”
The faithfulness of God is like himself-infinite. It reacheth to the clouds (Psa. xxxi. 5); a figurative expression, denoting the unknown distance, and, therefore, not to be compassed or measured. It is everlasting. Not only does it last_for time, and through time, but it is for ever. It is said to be unto all generations (Psa. cxix. 90). And when shall the last generation of God's people die out? God's word—whether of promise, or of judgment, is settled in heaven (Psa. cxix. 89). The faithfulness of God is manifested to his saints. He made a covenant with his ancient people ; they broke it, but he kept it, for he turned them out of their land; and now, true to his promise of judgment, they are wanderers on the face of the earth. So, God having made a covenant with his chosen, even David, will keep that. Though his people forsake his law and walk not in his judgments, he will still keep his covenant; for he says (Psa. lxxxix. 28, 33), “My covenant shall stand fast with him (my chosen) and I will not suffer my faithfulness to fail.” He will nevertheless visit the transgressions of his people with stripes, although he will not cast them off.
What a mercy that, notwithstanding all our doubts, which reflect on his faithfulness, our backslidings which dishonour him,-our coldness and lukewarmness, which touch as it were to the quick in his love, yet he will not suffer his faithfulness to fail. That faithfulness still acts for our good ; it is still ours to plead in prayer; it is still ours to rest upon; it is still in full activity, to bear us along through the trials of life ; and it shall be ours to praise and admire in the upper spheres. II.—The calling. What is it? There is a call
, but not an effectual call
. It is that call of the sound of the gospel which many hear with the natural ear, but not with the spiritual ear. But this call is a spiritual call ;--it is one which goes straight to the heart and conscience ;—it awakens the dead soul, and puts new
life into him ;-it brings him out of the grave of sinful corruption and carnality, and brings him into the light of the sun of righteousness ;-into the warming and lifegiving rays of that sun ;-it is saying to Satan, who is the power of death, and to sin, and the power and love of it, ---- Loose him, and let him go !"-Go into life ; go into light; go into liberty ; go into peace ; go into fellowship and communion with the Holy One of Israel.
This call is a high call, because it is the call of the High and Lofty One who inhabiteth eternity.
It is a holy call, for God hath called us with an holy calling, 2 Tim. i. 9. It is holy because God is holy. It is holy because it is to the holiness of Christ Jesus. It is holy because it is to holy living and walking.
It is also a gracious calling, for it of the free unmerited grace and ve of God. It is not of works, but of his grace, and according to his purpose, 2 Tim. i. 9.
It is a heavenly calling. This call is not only high, holy and gracious, which may possibly be thought to be confined to earth, but it is also a heavenly call
. It comes from heaven, and those who hear it are also partakers of it (Heb. iii. 1); and consequently, it shall return to heaven, and, like the husbandman, it shall carry its sheaves with it. Those who partake of this call, are made fit for heaven, to heaven they shall ascend, and in heaven they shall rest for ever.
III.-The fellowship to which God calls his people. It is that of his dear Son. It involves the following contrasts :-Fellowship with his sufferings, and with his joys ; fellowship with his sorrows and with his delights ; fellowship in his degradation, and in his exaltation ; fellowship in his dishonour, and in his honour; fellowship in his weakness, and in his power; fellowship in his poverty, and in his riches ; fellowship with him on earth, and with him in the glory world.
If the lot of the Christian is a trying one, so was Christ's. If the Christian is full of sorrow, so also was Christ ; for was there ever sorrow like unto his sorrow ? If the Christian often meets with trial, did not Christ? If the Christian is often tempted, was not also Christ? If the Christian hunger, did not Christ? If the Christian feels weariness, was not Christ wearied with his journey? If the Christian be sometimes persecuted, was not Christ? If Christians have sometimes lost their lives, did not the dear Redeemer pour out his life unto death? And what a difference in the loss of life ! The Christian has lost his life that he might obtain a nobler life, and that he might awake in the likeness of Christ. But Christ lost his life that he might supply th very likeness. The Christian's loss was his own gain ; Christ's loss was his people's gain.
Think, then, my Christian reader, of the greatness, the grandeur of your lot. It is to be called out of sin's corruption into eternal purity; out of sin's bondage into Christ's liberty ; out of Satan's power into the sweet and easy yoke of Christ ; out of spiritual death into spiritual life : out of what would have been endless death into endless life ; out of self into Christ; out of isolation in nature to be made one of the members of “ His glorious body;" out of Egypt with a cruel king—by way of the wilderness through the Red Sea of Christ's blood, into a land flowing with milk and honey, and thence to the New Jerusalem, the city of the great King, where, in exchange for the robe of corruption, rags, and self-righteousness, we shall be clothed upon with the righteousness of our adorable and loving Saviour,
In which all-perfect heavenly dress,
Our souls shall ever shine." This fellowship leads us more into an acquaintance with Jesus, to see more of his fulness, to touch again and again the hem of his garment, to receive into our souls grace for grace, to receive the gracious bedewings of his Spirit upon our souls, and grow and thrive by those showers of small rain promised in Deut. xxxii., which penetrate, enrich, and strengthen. This fellowship leads us to feel a oneness with Jesus, because we draw nourishment from him, as the branch from the vine ; to feel that as members we have life in our Head ;-that we are living stones, joined unto the one great, glorious, and precious stone, cemented thereto by his precious blood, and bound by everlasting love ;-to know that his power not only sustains us now, but shall sustain us
; that his love has redeemed us here, that we might dwell with him there ; that his blood has cleansed us from all sin here, that we may reign with him there ; and that for the “light afflictions” which we have here, which are but for a moment, we shall have there “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” E. St. B. C., Walworth.
H. G. D.
'Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” 2 Sam. i. 26.
This sentence is culled from the beautiful lamentation made by David “over Saul and over Jonathan his son.” The words themselves have immediate reference to the rare and generous affection borne by Jonathan to David. This was indeed so wonderful” if we consider the relative positions in society occupied by the two
friends. The one a shepherd lad, the other a king's son. Most men select friends from persons of their own rank, but the deep devotion of Jonathan to David overleaped all mere conventionalities ; and hence, regarded after the manner of men, his love was “ wonderful.”
Again, Jonathan's love will be pronounced "wonderful,” upon a proper consideration of the self-abnegation it involved. The giving up of all claims and pretensions to a throne. Love ought always to be gauged by the sacrifices it makes for its object. Some persons are loud in their professions of attachment; but were they not so, we should fail to discern that any attachment really existed. The sacrifice of place and power that Jonathan was willing to make for David's sake, fully justifies us in writing down his love as wonderful."
It was also wonderful if due regard be had to its unfaltering character. It was not to be turned aside by fortune or misfortune, frowns or smiles, family connections or worldly circumstances, slander or vituperation. It was, in short, true love; which, in this hollow world of ours, is indeed a “wonderful” thing to find.
Its depth was also “wonderful ;" “passing the love of women. It is generally believed that men excel in intellect, women in emotional power. We are quite aware that “there is no general rule without exceptions.” Hence, as in Jonathan's case, some men's emotional power is greater even than that of woman's : and, on the other hand, there are women who could hardly be made to understand what pure unselfish love really is. But David had in view the general fact, that a woman's love is deep and strong, when he spoke of Jonathan's love, as “passing the love of women;"--passing a maiden's first pure and open confidence, a true wife's noble self-denial, and a mother's tender regard. Truly, if the words uttered by David concerning Jonathan were truthful, the love therein recorded was something marvellous; a thing to be much admired, and well worth enshrining in im
But listen, gentle reader : this world of ours has witnessed a love much more marvellous than Jonathan's, even the love of Jesus Christ to fallen men. How far below Immanuel was earth's guilty race. To a noble mind, there was something really attractive in Jesse's youngest son. In him there was courage, modesty, and moral power. But when Jesus loved us first, there was absolutely nothing in us worth loving. Oh how low he stooped to raise us to a crown! The voluntary humility of the Saviour, in taking upon him our nature, that he may thus impart to us his nature, is what we shall never thoroughly comprehend. His love to us was " wonderful.”
Think for a moment, also, upon what he sacrificed on our behalf. Reputation, ease, his Father's smiling presence, and, eventually, life itself.
" Then let us sit beneath his cross,
And gladly catch the healing stream;
And give up all our hearts to him ;
For us, our Lord was crucified." How unchanging also, is the love of Jesus ! It is a perennial spring, always flowing to the objects of his choice. Were it not so, the fires of our lusts had dried it up ere now; or the mountains of our guilt had turned aside its course. But, oh, wondrous truth, “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.” God's grace, as displayed in Christ's love, is like himself, “ the same yesterday, today, and for ever."
Think again; who can fathom its depths ? Like the prophet in his vision, the further we proceed, the deeper it becomes. It is “ a river to swim in.” Nay, more, it is an ocean limitless in character. Human researches must fail to discover its circumference, and angelic thought to sound its mystic deeps. It is “passing the love of women.
.” The language of Jesus to his people runs thus, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? Yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” (Isa. xlix. 15.)
Some of us profess to know this love, to have felt its power, to have tasted its “wonderful" sweetness. If we have done so, let us strive to emulate the gratitude of David. He celebrated the love of his earthly friend in an immortal song ; how are we celebrating the love of our heavenly Friend ? Surely our lives should be one song of praise to him. Braunston, Rugby.
J. W. COLE.
A PORTION FOR THE SAINT'S PRACTICE.
BY WILLIAM WARD, NEWPORT PAGNELL.
“ Do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Beth-lehem.'-Ruth iv. 11.
JEHOVAH, the Lord of hosts, never did nor will he ever require at our hands what he has not given ability to perform. He first gives the ability, then makes his righteous demand. As with Ruth here, so it is with every spiritual son and daughter : hence he saith, “Son (or danghter] give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways:" Prov. xxiii. 26. Boaz had now taken Ruth to wife, and therefore had opened to her his resources ; and given her free access to fields, his habitation, and his heart. This special favour revealed and vouchsafed unto her gave rise to freedom, power, and affection, thus enabling her to regard with pleasure the precept of her master and the household “under whose wings she had come to trust." There was at once laid before this newly-adopted damsel the spirit of Rachel and Leah, that Ruth might not be at a loss as to her new calling and becoming conduct, the latter forming no small amount of her consolation while engaged in the former. Is there not something, indeed, in this, befitting all newcomers to Sion, to whom Christ has opened the resources of grace, the field of the gospel : yea, his very heart ; for he saith to his disciples, “ Take my yoke upon you and learn of me ; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matt. xi. 29). I do, indeed, think that there is here a direct reference to all Sion's children in every department of the church of Christ.
Let ministers of the gospel regard these words as connected in no small degree with their ministerial success, their personal reputation, their soul consolation, and the approbation of their Master. David, the preacher of truth and righteousness to the great congregation, had an affectionate and constant respect for the precepts of God's word, hence hé declared, “This I had because I kept thy precepts.” (Psa. cxix. 56.)
If deacons of churches were to give this portion their prayerful attention, even if they have filled their office as becometh them, embracing every opportunity to assist their minister in his important work, (and I have no complaint to make in this particular respect), looking well after the poor of the church, and providing all things honestly as faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God ; still it will be as well to remind them again and again, “lest at any time they should let them slip ;" and to constantly adopt David's vow, “I will never forget thy precepts.” Psa. cxix. 93.
If members of churches also were mutually to take their places in Bethlehem's fields, i.e., in observing Christ's ordinances, and listening to his declarations and promises, and regarding the sacred immunities and privileges they possess, what a delightful sight it would afford ! How comforting to the soul, and how honouring to God!
Surely his past goodness and faithfulness, his present manifestations of lovingkindness and " tender mercies,” together with that glorious prospect which opens itself to our admiring gaze, will create in us all an ardent desire to double our diligence, and to run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith ; who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. xii. 2).
Wouldst thou be happy in the love of Christ, devoted to his service, and useful in thy day and generation ? “Do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem." Three things may here be noticed, equally appropriate to the godly in Christ.
What to do. “Do thou worthily in Ephratah.” We take Ephratah to signify the world ; therefore, do thou worthily in the world. “Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do ?? was the earnest, eager and Christ-loving apostle's enquiry, as soon as he was born from above. This feature of grace comes out immediately. The apostle said immediately, “I conferred not with flesh and blood.” (Gal. i. 16). Just as it is instinctive to the animal, or the new-born infant, to turn to its mother's breast, so through the inwrought principle of grace in the heart, the soul turns from the vanities of the world, and turns to the gospel, “ the milk of God's word.” And the promise made to the Israel of old is still good, “They shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sands.” (Deut. xxxiii. 19.)
This certainly affords encouragement to enquire of the Lord, “What to do," what, is the specific work which we are adapted for, whether to hear the word preached by others, or to preach the word ourselves; for each one of God's children has his allotted place, and out of that place he cannot possibly attain to nor does he regard with profit the exhortation here given to do worthily, or in uniformity to the grace given. Is there not danger lest we miss our providential way, and exercise ourselves in matters too high for us ? David was quite clear upon this important point : hear him in humble accents addressing himself to the Most High, “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty, neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved myself as a child that is weaned of its mother. My soul is even as a weaned child.” (Psa. cxxxi. 1, 2.)
Thus his whole behaviour and pursuit were in true conformity to the Lord. Speaking of the ark of God, David said, “We heard of it at Ephratah ; we found it in the fields of the wood.” Observe here that David and his companions in love and labour, did not find the ark at Ephratah, or the world, though they sought for it there. Thus they did worthily, but they found the ark of God in the fields of the wood, signifying Mount Sion or the church. Let us, dear brethren, go and do as he did ; who, from the sheepfold to the throne, adored and admired God's special providence," and constantly proclaimed his wisdom, power, and faithfulness : for when he, through strength given, had fought the battle, vanquished the foe, and gained the conquest, he exclaimed, “ By thee have I run through a troop, and by my God have I leaped over a wall.”
I.-Honour God the Father.
1. For his abundant goodness toward you. The attribute of God's goodness came forth as an antidote for your soul's disease. Whatever is presented therefore upon the syrface of the heart, that is of a spiritual and endearing character, such as the graces of faith, hope, love, and fear, they are emanations of God's goodness. The distribution of all favours, whether of providence, or grace, or glory, proceed herefrom. “Oh how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee!" (Psa. xxxi. 19.)
2. Honour God the Father for his paternal care over you.
This lovely feature in God is distinctly seen and admired by his children, because of the preservation, support, and defence his care affords them from the assaults of the enemy, at which time God is a refuge for us. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time ; casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” (1 Peter v. 6, 7.) 3.
God the Father for the delight he has you ; delighteth in mercy.” (Mic. vii. 18). As a proof that Jehovah's delights are among the sons of men, he addresses them in the following language : “Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah ; for the Lord delighteth in thee.” (Isa. lii. 4).
II.- Honour Christ the Son.