« PreviousContinue »
ling amongst men, which was purely according to the desire of the Most High. David's design was altogether good; it sprang from the moving of the Holy Spirit within him; and none seemed so fitted to carry it out as himself, for no man on earth had ever more earnestly desired it. But the Lord told him that the great work should indeed be accomplished, but by the hands of another, and not by his own; and David not only gave up his own will, but rejoiced to prepare the work for another. There appears to have been no object in his life on which he had set his heart more intently, or on which he was more ready to resolve “not to give sleep to his eyes nor slumber to his eyelids,” till he had reared this “habitation for the God of Jacob.” words regarding it are, “I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God; now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God, because I have set my affection to the house of my God.” In a work for which he so longed, and for which he seemed so fitted, and, king though he was, with none on earth to control or hinder him in whatever he might desire, yet he meekly yields his own will to the will of the Lord, and says, “ Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother, my soul is even as a weaned child.”
The kingdom of heaven on earth would be a kingdom of little children if this mind were always in the Lord's servants, whether in the public work of the ministry, or in the more secluded work of the members of the Church. But, as in some of the apostles, before their Lord's death, there was a persistent desire to be the greatest, so still, in those who are most zealous for Christ's honour and the salvation of others, there is often need of much soul-weaning, before they are willing to be set aside, and to rejoice in the work of another as sincerely and cordially as in their own.
The words of John the Baptist are ever memorable, and always wonderful and glorious—“He must increase, but I decrease.” This constant increase of Him, and steadfast decrease of me, how hard it is, and how sweet!
As in David, the work on which he had set his heart was given to another, so it was in Moses also, as concerned the leading of Israel across the Jordan into the land of promise. But in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, their guidance was committed into his hands, yet only after his soul had become like a weaned child. Weaned he was for so great a work through forty years long, and thoroughly weaned ; not from desiring that the good work should be fulfilled, but from the desire that he should be entrusted with its fulfilment. In his divinely inspired zeal for the deliverance of his people, “he supposed that his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them;" but neither he nor they were prepared for the great deliverance. He was zealous to undertake the Lord's work in his own way, and with much of the strength of his own hand, although he quite believed that it was not Moses, but God by the hand of Moses, that would deliver Israel. When, however, after forty years, the Lord's time had fully come, he was so completely weaned from his first high thoughts,—so quieted into a “man very meek above all the men which were upon the face of the earth,”—that, when God sends him to Egypt, he asks,“ Who am I, that I should go unto Pharoah, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt ?” and he earnestly entreats that not he, but some other, should be entrusted with this great commission : “O Lord, send, I pray Thee, by the hand of him whom Thou wilt send.” Jesus said, “Whosoever will humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven;" and to Moses, now become like a weaned child, was entrusted what, in many respects, was the greatest of of all the works ever placed in the hands of a redeemed man.
IV. The earnest desires and the fruitful work of every weaned
1. The weaning of the soul from self and from its own earthly affections, neither stupifies the mind nor quenches the fire of all nobler desires. Towards God only good, no man has ever experienced desires so intense as breathe in the Psalms of David, who tells us that otherwise he was severed from his own cherished thoughts till his soul had become like the weaned child. Toward the Lord, the language of His inmost heart is, “ As the heart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God; O God, Thou art my God, my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and parched land." The hart sorely athirst for the springs of water, and the parched land crying out for rain, are the images of his soul thirsting for the living God.
As for God Himself, so also the childlike soul longs for righteousness and for all holiness, for all likeness to the Holy One of Israel. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righ
teousness for they shall be filled ;” with a life-long thirsting here with a satisfying fulness in heaven : “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness."
Again, the soul thirsts for the Word of the Lord, which “He has magnified above all His name,” with a thirst that needs no weaning; that Word of truth which all who love it should cling to at the present hour, when many seem ready to let it go and lose it: “Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever; I opened my mouth and panted, for I longed for Thy commandments.” Let us never be weaned from the pure and living streams of the Word, of which it is written 'as new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby.'”
2. The gracious weaning of the soul prepares and fits us for fruitful work.. In grace, the helplessness of the child is combined with the strength and energy of the man. Except we receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child, we cannot enter therein; yet it is the same kingdom of heaven that suffereth violence, and which the violent take by force. The entrant into the kingdom, is the weak and simple child that has no strength to refuse the offered kingdom, and merely accepts it as it is freely given; and, at the same time, the man of violence, who strives to enter in and will not desist till he has forced an entrance. In like manner, the weak and weaned soul is full of strength for the service of the Lord. Being loosed from other ties, and with selfish entanglements gone, we are free and full of energy for the work of the Lord. So David expresses it, in his thanksgiving song, “ O Lord, truly I am Thy servant, Thou hast loosed my bonds;" loosed because the Lord hath need of him, and cheerfully serving the Lord with the strength supplied by His own right hand upholding the soul.
A beautiful and most instructive example of the energetic action and fruitful work which only the weaned soul can achieve, is given in the history of David, as we see him stand amid the smoking ruins of Ziklag with his six hundred valiant men around him, yet more alone than without them, because from them come only angry murmurs and fierce threatenings to stone him. On returning to their homes, these hardy soldiers found their town plundered and burned, and their wives and children carried off, they knew not whither, and with none left to tell them by whom. The brave men can descry no enemy, from whose grasp they may rescue their loved ones, or lose their own lives in the conflct; their swords hang useless by their sides, for they neither hope to overtake their foes, nor know which way to turn in the pursuit; and all that is left them is to weep for their irrecoverable loss. What a loud wail it was that rent the heavens, when David and his six hundred men "lifted up their voices and wept, till they had no more power to weep;" each one grieving for his own, for his wife and his sons and daughters, and each striving to wail the loudest for his own loss as the greatest.
Their souls were vexed to the uttermost, but they were not chastened or weaned; and when, at last, they could weep no more their sorrow sought an outlet in anger, not against a distant enemy whom they could not reach, but against their once admired and honoured captain who had led them so often to victory, but had now misled them to irretrieveable ruin. In that company there was one weaned soul; one man in that deepest distress so chastened and quieted as to hope in the Lord when all other hope was gone ; one man with affections more intense and more tender with all the rest, but who yet could give up all his own for the Lord, and could say, “ There is none upon earth whom I desire beside Thee." David in that hour surrendered his own will and way, and asked what the Lord would have him to do. “Shall I pursue,” he inquired, “shall I overtake?” “Pursue,” the Lord answered “for thou shalt surely overtake, and without fail recover all.” There had been no angry recrimination in the leader against his ungrateful followers, but the words of his heart, if not of his lips, had been, “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother, mysoul is even as a weaned child." He trusted in the God of his salvation, and he was not put shame.
“ As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man;" and, however humble your sphere may be, your true peace in yourself, and your power for good in the earth, as well as your lot in the everlasting inheritance, depend on your being weaned by grace from self and the world, from your own righteousness and your own will and way, and hoping in the Lord alone. The portion of the unweaned, or of the half-weaned soul, is a multitude of miseries. Let it be the desire, the prayer, the consent of every one of you to say, “ Lord, my heart is not haughty nor mine eyes lofty; my soul is even as a weaned child; my hope is in the Lord from henceforth and for ever.”
CHRIST BEARING WITNESS TO THE TRUTH :
REV. JAMES DICK, M.A.,
" To this end was I born, and for this cause caine I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”—JOHN xviii. 37.
“The Faithful and True Witness.”—Rev. iii. 14.
EVER since the entrance of sin into the world, the truth that all men need to know has been inseparably associated with the rson and mission of Jesus Christ. Immediately after the fall of the “First Man" came the gracious revelation of the “Second Man” who is “ the Lord from heaven”—perhaps spoken of in that very form to our first parents, so that Eve, interpreting the promise too literally, said upon the birth of Cain, “I have gotten a man, the Lord.” From the time that this first gospel-promise was given, the hope of the world was directed to the Seed of the woman. Blighted by the violation of the original constitution of human life, the hope of eternal life in fellowship with God was revived by the promulgation of a new constitution, under which the essential terms of the old were to be observed, while its demands on the score of violated conditions were to be fully satisfied. Under this constitution, Christ was set up as the Head of all who were given to Him by the Father, comprising all who should believe on Him, or, in other words, all, even to the end of the world, who should be willing to avail themselves of that new constitution whose foundations are laid in the sovereign grace of God.
The truth as it is in Jesus may be described, in a word, as the revelation of this new constitution, which is commonly called the covenant of grace. It is, therefore, truth that is altogether special and unique in its character. It does not enter into vulgar