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glory of the Lord's people. The subject was an elevating and inspiriting one, for he knew that he spoke to willing ears. He knew that they who were interested in that glory would hear, and they that look forward with joyful expectation to that happiness would hearken, so at once he exclaims : “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them.” Instead of the land in the first vision, once fruitful, but then a waste ; he saw a wilderness, becoming gradually, but surely a fruitful garden, and a land of joy, happiness, and everlasting glory.
This chapter is divisible into four portions : the first (v. 1, 2) briefly but beautifully expresses the state of Christ's kingdom.
The second (v. 3—7), is an encouragement to the weak, with a reason for that encouragement.
The third (v. 8, 9), is a description of the way : and, The fourth, describes the consummation. Contrasting the two chapters, we notice (a). That while the land of the wicked shall be made a waste,-another land, which is a wilderness, shall become fruitful.
(b). While the strong among the wicked, even their princes, shall be cut off, the weak ones of the Lord shall be strengthened and made to rejoice: and,
the end of the wicked is to be cut off and destroyed for ever, the end of the righteous shall be “everlasting joy.”.
But looking only at the first and second verses of this chapter, we will notice two things, which are again a contrast.
1. The wilderness or desert. 2. Its future glory. The wilderness, the solitary place, the desert. All these are uncultivated wastes, without fruit, without water, without the means of sustaining life. How well these terms describe the condition of the natural man. We
e are all as wildernesses and desert places ; we have no life within us ; we are altogether dead; unfruitful in all our ways; we are even wastes in our hearts, for we canvot think any good thing. We can show nothing as the fruit of our hearts which can induce any favour at the hands of a righteous God, or induce him to take up his abode with us, for our hearts are “ deceitful above all things and desperately wicked;" and Christ has said, that out of the heart proceeds all manner of evil. It is certain, therefore, that no good can proceed out of our hearts. David knew by painful experience the wickedness of human nature, for he says: we are born in sin and shapen in iniquity.” And if so born, how can we think any good ?
Again, we are as desolate places; and desolate places are lonely places. stand by ourselves, content with what we have done ; we will have no Saviour, nor any King to reign over us ; for we are so full of our own goodness that we prefer to be left alone, like Ignorance in the “ Pilgrim's Progress," who preferred his own conipany to that of Christian and Faithful, (who had learned their own desolate condition), and so went on his own way, which carried him to death and destruction. Like Adam and Eve, we must make ourselves coverings wherewith to hide our own condition, and in our own dress, though it be but fig-leaves, we stand boldly before God, and proclaim our excuses for breaking his law, until in his mercy and kindness, he opens our eyes to see that our dress does not hide our nakedness, and makes us a garment wherewith himself to clothe us.
The natural man sees not his own condition ; on the contrary, he repudiates the notion that he is in such a case. He is puffed up with pride, and pride would lift up itself on to the throne of the eternal God, were it strong enough.
How expressive of the soul's condition, and the change wrought in it, are the words of Isaiah (xxxii. 13, 15), “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briars...... until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field.”
These “thorns and briars,” are not fruit, but the result of non-cultivation. They are the works of the flesh, and are described by Paul in his Epistle to the Galations, 5th chapter. They grow without toil, as every Christian can testify, for their seed is sown at our birth, and as we grow in years, our sins grow too, but faster; for our years are few, our sins many ; our unrighteous ways, our unholy desires, our
pride and self-righteousness work upon our hearts deep ruts, which would remain there to all eternity but for the grace of God; and in the believer so strongly do they work, and influence him, that it requires the mighty power of the Holy Spirit to close up those ruts, and nothing but the blood of the Redeemer can remove their mark.
Like the desert, we are void of life : we are dead, dead to Christ, to all good works and ways; dead in trespasses and sins; and like Lazarus, we are so corrupt that it may be said of us as of him," he stinketh ;" for surely our sins of every kind and complexion, our evil deeds and ways, must arise before God with an odour so strong as to bring swift destruction upon us. Yet he has had mercy on us, and compassion. His loving-kindness was before our birth and actual misdeeds, for it was
from everlasting,” and it shall extend to the future eternity, for it is " to everlasting ;" so that we escape the doom so richly merited by us all. ONE stands by us, calling with a voice, which, accompanied by power, penetrates the gloom of death, and cries, “Come forth," and behold ! we are made new creatures in Christ Jesus, and we arise to newness of life : our enemy is spoiled of his expected prey, we are made living souls, and our Redeemer adds fresh honour to his name, and jewel upon jewel to his crown. E. $t. B. C., Walworth.
H. F. D. (To be continued.)
THE SWEETNESS OF THE MOUTH OF CHRIST.
“ His niouth is most sweet.” Sol. Song v. 16.
THERE is nothing in this part of the word of our God for the carnal mind, nothing whatever for the formalist and mere professor ; but there is much that is exceedingly precious to the true believer, and peculiarly sacred and sweet to the spiritually enlightened and sensible sinner, who by the regenerating grace and quickening power of the Holy Ghost has been brought into vital union and sweet communion with the great Son of God. The great and blest Redeemer is here represented, and set forth in all his attractive beauties and transporting charms, as the church's immutable Beloved, and as the sinner's suited and eternal Friend. In this sacred dialogue we have the heart of Immanuel, the great and heavenly Bridegroom opened; the eternity, infinity, and vehemency of his love declared in figures with which as rational creatures we are most familiar. Here also we have pourtrayed the spiritual and ever-varying experience of the heavenly bride. Here we may read in unmistakeable language how high an estimate the Bridegroom of the church forms of his bride, and how highly she esteems her ever-loving and adorable Husband. Here we have also fully set forth that close, that endearing and most intimate communion and fellowship, the great Saviour, and the sensible sinner hold with each other, when by a living faith, brought so near as to realize that most wonderful and conjugal relationship that had existed secretly and eternally; namely, that of husband and and wife.
This most wonderful union was formed by God himself before the foundation of the world ; this union is realized, sooner or later, in every mystic member of the body of Christ in time, and this union will be consummated before assembled worlds, when time itself shall cease to be, and when all inferior unions shall be dissolved. But, as we can know nothing about the former but by a sweet and powerful manifestation of the same to our hearts by the Spirit of God : so to look forward to be one with Christ, and to be owned by him in that great and notable day without some saving knowledge and realization of this blessed union by faith, is both vain and delusive. All mankind are wedded to the law as a covenant of works, but in the heart of every saved sinner a divorce must and does take place; and the way and manner in which this divorce takes place is fully set forth by the apostle Paul (Rom. vii.), “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband, so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead she is loosed from the law of her husband : so, then, if while her husband liveth she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Now this appears to be the way in which the favoured bride of Christ is brought to a heart-felt acquaintance with the love of her glorious Bridegroom. Here, however, the Holy Ghost is a sovereign, and takes bis own time and way to bring about this state of things ; yet it is certain that by the law is the knowledge of sin, and until sin is known and discovered as to its dreadful nature and awful consequences, the Saviour from sin cannot be really desired. But the words before us are the language of sweet experience, the language of one blest with the full assurance of faith, and of one, therefore, who was competent to set the blessed Bridegroom forth ; for his beauties and charms had won her affections and bound her soul fast, and in answer to the daughters of Jerusalem she describes and sets forth her beloved Immanuel in his complex person, beauties, perfections, and attractions from head to foot ; for she knew him most intimately, and therefore she could describe him most minutely. He had kissed her with the kisses of his mouth, and she therefore knew from the many love-tokens she had been favoured with that his love was better than wine, therefore, amongst other things she declared, “His mouth is most sweet : yea, he is altogether lovely :” and with all his loveliness, greatness, and beauty: he is “
my beloved and my friend.” An all important question, dear reader,—that is, “What think ye of Christ ?” What know ye of the love of Christ ? How much communion and fellowship have ye had with Christ ? Many talk of Christ with hearts as hard as steel and as cold, who never in their lives had one moment's fellowship with Christ. They may have light enough to see him at a distance, just as we see the sun on a clear but cold morning in winter. They may even angrily contend about the constitution of his mysterious person ; but what an unspeakable difference there is between this and fellowship with Christ ! Surely that is the most blessed man who can say with the great and holy Romaine,
While they are fighting about Christ, I am feeding upon him." Oh, it is not Christ in the Bible, or Christ on the lip, or a clear theoretical knowledge of Christ in the head that will do ; but Christ in the heart, Christ and the soul in close and blest communion. Therefore, let us ask ourselves the important question, Have we really heard his voice, and can we say from personal experience, “His mouth is most sweet ?" By bis mouth I understand his word, his precious gospel ; and the kisses of his mouth are the application of his own precious promises, gracious declarations, and sweet invitations applied and brought home to the heart. “ With the heart man believeth." A kiss is supposed to be a token of love, when the lover and loved come close together ; so Christ comes near and makes us prove our interest in his heavenly love ; his lips, like lilies, drop sweetness. Every word of God is pure like the lily, and the words that he speaks are spirit and life; he makes known to the heart of the interested one the love of God. He whó dwelt in the bosom of the Father from all eternity alone is capable of making known the secret love of God. He, as the Messenger of the covenant, hath, in the gospel of his grace, declared the eternal love of God. Grace is poured into his lips, and as from the abundance of his heart the mouth speaketh, so from his sacred lips he drops grace with his word into the mouth of faith, by which his preciousness is realized ; and by experience we are favoured to prove the fact that “his mouth is most sweet.” The words that were given to him by his Father, he gives to the children, and they receive them and know assuredly that he came from the Father, and that the Father hath sent him.
In Isa. 1. 4, the Lord thus speaks, “ The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” The words of Christ are all seasonable and suitable words, and therefore they are 80 sweet. “.A word spoken in season, how good is it !” Now, our beloved Lord knows how to speak, when to speak, and what to speak. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them.” The prophet Jeremiah does not say he found them, but they
were found.” The word of the Lord, we read, came unto him. It is not our coming to the word, but the word coming to us in its power and application that produces the like fruit and effect as described by the prophet: “Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” So also David thus dearly loved the word of God, because of its sweet adaption to his circumstances and application to his heart, “ How sweet is thy word to my taste ! yea, sweeter than honey and the honeyconıb.” The doctrines of the gospel are all doctrines of grace ; the promises are full of grace, and when spoken to the heart by the Spirit of Christ, the grace of the doctrine drops as the rain, and distils as the dew, and the grace of the promise comes from the Almighty Promiser's heart into the mouth of faith, into the believing heart, and produces blessed effects and results.
“God's promises are sweet,
They melt the saints in tears;
They banish all their fears;
Flow through the Saviour's precious blood.'' The field of the word is full of these exceeding great and precious promises, and as they are opened by the shining beams of the Sun of righteousness, the believer, like the bee, gains an entrance into the heart of them and partakes of the honey they contain. On a field or garden of flowers we often see the busy bee and the gaudy butterfly, the latter alights on the flower and flies from flower to flower, but the bee enters into the flower and extracts honey therefrom: so it is the mere professor and showy formalist who alights upon the word, has some vague notions of the word, but no entrance thereinto, and the word has no vital entrance into him. One of the blessed results of the entrance of God's word is, it giveth light; and where the and the heart are vitally married, there will be also the sweetest commuion and fellowship with Christ. “ If ye abide in me, and my words abide you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.” The secret lies in the reception of the word of Christ into the ininost soul. When the word is thus received by faith in meekness, it becomes the engrafted word, and makes its happy possessor wise unto salvation. Hence the important exhortation, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Oh there is indeed a vast difference between sitting down like a little child at the feet of our great Master to learn, and forming our own carnal notions of the word of God, and taking the Scriptures to suit our own prejudices and false views. All persons who profess Christianity come to the word; but how many thousands, alas ! either stumble at it, or wilfully pervert it. The devil himself is doubtless well acquainted with the letter of the word, and can apply it to suit his own diabolical purposes; and his ministers and agents pretend, of course, to hold the word : but as the excellent John Newton has said, how true it is,
“ On the same flower we often see,
The loathsome spider and the bee;
Is different as their natures are." The spider rests its web from flower to flower and from plant to plant in the garden, and is busiest at his work generally in the twilight, to catch the unwary flies: só Satan and his host of cunning crafty men lie in wait to deceive the hearts of the simple, and rest their abominable and diabolical sentiments on the word of God, to make the same plausible, and thereby they do overthrow the faith of some and. would overthrow the faith of all, but there is this blessed limit put to their operations:“ If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” which, of course, implies an utter impossibility. Blessed be God, therefore, for electing love; for that is the secret which secures our salvation whole and entire : “The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Oh, it is a solemn thing to corrupt the word
of God. There were many that did it in the apostles' days, and there are many that do it now; they wrest the Scriptures, that is, take them out of their proper connection and make them seem to speak another language. Woe be to all such triflers and tamperers with the holy word of God. They do it, saith the apostle, “to their own destruction.” But, beloved reader, humble child of God, hoping, seeking, trembling disciple of Jesus ; to you who can truly say, “His mouth is most sweet;" the word drops like oil on the troubled waters and produces a calm ; it drops like rain and dew,---refreshing, invigorating, and cleansing; it drops like honey from the honeycomb; it is sweetness to the soul and health to the bones, and, unlike all other sweets, it is a sweet that does not cloy,--a sanctifying sweet-a sweet that leaves no dreg or sediment behind. Blessed and happy is the soul who, with Job, can say, “ I have esteemed the words of thy mouth more than my necessary food;" and, with David, “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”
G. BURRELL. (To be continued.)
“ WELLS OF SALVATION.” ISA, XII. 3.
A FEW WORDS TO THIRSTERS.
(Continued from p. 34.) II. We notice what they shall draw, and from whence. Draw water from the “wells of salvation.”
O my soul, hast not thou been privileged to draw water from these wells ? When gnilt hung heavily on thee, how sweet was it to taste the water out of that well of salvation ? “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be white as snow.” (Isa. i. 18). Yes, the water tasted sweetly of a pardoning God ; it tasted so free and full of free salvation and full atonement. The Bible is full of these wells ; and oh how welcome in this dry and thirsty land! They are free to the thirsty, -to be had without money or price. Nay, money cannot buy these waters. No work of ours can buy or merit a single promise of eternal life. These wells, then, are not rewards for good behaviour on our part, but are gracious gifts; the promises of the Bible are like so many salvation-wells full of Jesus Christ. What is a promise, if Jesus Christ be not in it? An empty well. No man can draw confort from the law unless Christ is to that man the fulfiller of it. An unfulfilled law can hold out no comfort, no promise of life to the traveller. This is no salvation, well to any soul, and although many attempt to draw water (life) from it, yet it only contains and yields to fallen man “ death ;” for “ by the deeds of the law shall no man living be justified ;" but now a more blessed spring supplies the wells from whence the Christian draws water; namely, a Law-fulfiller, who, while he is a just God—just to all the demands of law and justice, is yet a Saviour of the chiefest of sinners. How sweet, then, is the water from such a source ! These waters, so to speak, sparkle with free pardon, perfect obedience on the Saviour's part, with wondrous love and condescension and with immutability of will and purpose ; and oh how sweet to the soul! The promises and consolations of God when applied by the Spirit, revive the drooping spirit ; they put new life into the weary traveller ; they heal the broken-hearted, and cause the weary mind to look up with confidence to heaven and say, “ My Father, III. How the waters are obtained. They are drawn waters.
“Ah!" say some," that is what I want to know ; you say the wells are full of water; the promises are full of Christ-full of comfort. But they are so deep, I cannot get to taste, a drop, and yet my soul panteth and thirsteth to know and realize a Saviour's love. I know the promises are full of what I want, but I cannot draw.” “I have loved thee with an everlasting love,” is a precious well, but I want to know that I have an interest in that “everlasting love." O if I could only draw the living water !” Well, my dear friend, it is not to be wondered at that you cannot draw the water unassisted, none ever did yet ; for, 1st. We want