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thought of being for ever with Him make us happy? Have we sufficiently tasted His goodness and felt His love, as to be able to say,
" All that I desire is to be for ever with the Lord." Reader, such or such an object that is occupying and retaining your hearts, is it worthy of doing so? Look at Jesus, and you can forget all the rest. Seeing how lovely He is, you will learn that one thing only is worthy of your affections. On Christ's side, this desire to have us with Himself there is no want of. Not only He desires, but He wills that we should be with Him, as also it is said (John xvii). He wills to have us with Himself, and we see in this last chapter that the joy wherewith we shall then joy with Him, is realised now in our affections, and that with a spiritual intelligence which forms our hearts into the likeness of that which is revealed, and so becomes likewise applicable to our present state.
It is quite plain that Christ already desires to present the Church to Himself without spot. Now this will, this wish of Christ becomes ours, and we seek already to be it by realizing this perfection through faith in the heart. It is not that the flesh is not still there, as so it will be, so to speak, even worse at the end, because it works in opposition to still greater light; but if the spirit is in us, it will not have the victory notwithstanding the conflict. The heart will not love sin. We cannot cease from dependance on God without a fall, and this is why we so often sin, even though we no longer love sin.
"No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church” (ver. 29). There are these two things: "He nourisheth and cherisheth it.” The Church is in such a miserable state that it might be asked, Does He still nourish and cherish it? If we look at what has passed since, we only see a proof of the faithfulness of the love of Christ. For myself, I have seen in a special manner that whatever be the incapability of the Church to take care of the members of Christ, I have seen, I repeat, that the feeblest soul is nourished and cherished in the midst of all, by Christ Himself, and that He makes use even of evil to do it VOL. V.PT.IV.
good. It is impossible that He should not make " all things to work together for good to those that love Him” (Rom. viii. 27), and to present them to Himself without spot and blameless (Ephes. v. 27). Reader! Does your heart think that Jesus is occupied about you in this way—that he has unceasingly your good in view?
I intreat you to think of it.
think there can be a moment within His heart which has not your happiness as its object? If your desire is to glorify Him, let your soul be calm, peaceful, happy, trusting all to Him, whatever may come, knowing that, whatever may be, “goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life, and your habitation shall be in the house of the Lord for ever” (Ps. xxiii. 6).
Reckon on a power, a love which nourisheth and cherisheth those who are the objects of it. And in this confidence rest in Him. Remember that the end which He
proposes to you is the same as He has proposed to Himself; even to present you to Himself “without spot and blameless," in order that now your affections may be fixed on Him, and find in Him a source of abundant joy. He desires that now, here below, you should be living as His betrothed. If you
desire that it should be so, it will not be difficult for you whilst looking unto Jesus. Moses did not distress himself about reflecting the glory of God; that was done without His thinking about it, because he had just been beholding the glory of God. Rest assured that all we have to do, is to think of Jesus, and to keep close to Him. Take the most common circumstances of life, as in the verse which follows. Supposing, if I am a servant, and have a hard master, well ! it is not the master I am to look at, but at Christ, and it is Him I am to serve; all will then be made easy to me.
Seek to know what Christ is Himself, in order that His grace may make you such as He is. It is joy and happiness to walk under the light of His countenance, and with the enjoyment of the fulness of His love.
TO BE DOING AND NOT TO BE DOING.
“ Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. xiv. 23).
ALL the teachers who merit the name of Christians, are agreed upon the point that there is nothing of greater practical worth than Christian diligence in the redeemed.
The shades of difference found among them chiefly consist in the manner of stimulating the children of God thereto, and in the nature and motive power of the action in question.
We know that there are in the redeemed, here below, two principles of action which are opposed one to the other; that of the flesh and that of the spirit of adoption. The flesh never willingly keeps quiet, even if the body itself is at rest. And yet there is such a thing as rest according to the Spirit. It is never without danger that the Christian follows the thoughts of the flesh, either in getting into action or in keeping still; but the danger is infinitely enhanced when he does either the one or the other, induced thereto by thoughts which have the sanction of religion. It is always well for the energy of the Spirit of God to subject the flesh, and to oblige it to keep still. Then only is it that faith acts in love and according to the will of God, that is, according to scripture.
The heart of the wise discerns the times, and knows what is right. The spirit of adoption seeks the will of God in retirement, by prayer and in the study of the word. He is sure to find and to recognise what the will of God is, who has the sincere desire to do it, and desires nothing but it. But in seeking that will, we often find that faith and spirituality are more largely taxed by the study to be quiet, than by the having somewhat to do.
For them that are spiritual, there is a time to be doing and a time of cessation from doing—of rest and hope. But the flesh cannot bear the latter, for it has neither the will nor the ability to subject itself to the will of God. There is a time to act and a time to think-62 time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together.” The Holy Spirit leads us as well to rest, to prayer, and to meditation as to action. The Christian is neither a Sysiphus nor a vagabond Jew: he is a stranger, who, passing through the world, stays not, save at the resting-places which the Lord has prepared for him. And herein he only accomplishes the will of the good Shepherd who conducts him, and guides, nourishes, refreshes, and tenderly cares for him. “I will both lay me down and sleep in peace: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Ps. iv. 8).
The only happiness of the children of God consists in doing the will of the Father. If, at least, the heart is under the control of the spirit of adoption and of sonship, Jesus incessantly provides them with occasions, means and strength to do that will, even as by the Spirit, he inspires them with the desire to do it. But if the Christian is deficient in intelligence, he will hourly run the risk, whether he is in action or at rest, of only following his own notions. That which we, above all things, need is a filial and spiritual apprehension of grace.
If it is said to me, “ We must do, do, do," no principle of action connected with faith or love in me is awakened. It is but a law which stimulates the flesh, and thus encourages me to sow to the flesh. The reaping will, naturally, be of corruption.
But if, contrariwise, the love of God and my Father, or the grace and privileges of my heavenly calling in Jesus Christ be recalled to my soul-liberty is given to me to desire, to think, to love, and to act according to God, or if it be so, to be still according to God. It is the love of God toward us which is the sole spring of faith, and the circumstance which gives to faith its activity. Touch this spring, originate a movement there, if you
desire to awaken in the saints divine or truly
spiritual action. It is thus that we find exhortation set forth in the word by the Lord, and we have but to follow it, if we desire to be indeed his disciples. All the exhortations of the New Testament flow from the love of God, who has loved us and given us redemption, adoption and glory. How could we live, progress, and run toward the goal of our heavenly calling, if we were not nourished, abundantly and incessantly, with the grace of God, in Jesus Christ which is to us-ward.
The Lord Jesus Himself has said, " Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed(John vi. 27). Here the chief point in question is His flesh, given for the life of the world. That is, faith in the love of God is the sole true source, the only point to set out from, and alone the circle in which Christian activity unfolds itself.. The work of faith, and labour of love consists, at bottom, in believing in the Son and in abiding in Him. In believing, I work for the nourishment which is unto eternal life. Whether I eat or whether I drink, whether I am in active service, or whether I am in
repose- from the moment that I am in communion with the Author and Finisher of faith, I labour for the nourishment which is unto eternal life. Without Him we can do nothing, however laudable, in appearance, our activity may be. It is the Spirit which quickens; the flesh profits nothing. Moreover, constant mention is made of the fruit of the Spirit, and of the reaping of the Spirit, because, by our union with Jesus, " we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Rom. vi).
Now I will suppose that the father of a Christian family, thinking to act according to the Lord, devotes himself to the teaching of his children the best means of gaining gold and silver, or that he instructs them in the works of art, of the sciences, and of the fantasies of man's imagination. Such a father may, perhaps, do much, and acts through a lengthened period, with intentions most praiseworthy according to the world. But what fruit will be thence gathered, by himself and his children, in