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“I thought," added the mother, “it was such a solemn time in the dark, and I sat and prayed that it might be sanctified to some poor souls then present. “There's my daughter," she continued, “she doesn't know the Lord like my son does; but she will--a mother's prayers will never be suffered to fall to the ground.” We directly thought of our sainted one—the mother of our dear children, and we remembered the holy confidence with which she went out of life, assured that in due time each and every one should be brought to know the Lord.
Scripture after Scripture and verses of hymn after hymn did this dear woman continue to repeat, until we feared her poor frame would be exhausted. Indeed, we were full to overflowing and wanted to retire “to weep to the praise of the mercy we'd found." Among the many precious lines she repeated were those of the blessed Watts :
“ There shall I bathe my weary soul,
In seas of heavenly rest;
Across my peaceful breast."
“Oh,” said she, as she raised her hands,“ how sweet it will be
“To bathe the weary soul
In seas of heavenly rest.'”
Dear reader, the foregoing is but the very faintest outline of that most refreshing, never-to-be-forgotten visit to the sick and dying. There was but one in that room who was not bathed in tears, and that was the dear sufferer herself.
It is time, however, that we said a little about the text, and the most we can say upon a subject so great and so glorious is little indeed.
Do mark, beloved, how graciously the Lord introduces the matter. “At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.” No doubt this comprehends the latter-day glory of the Lord's ancient people, but it embraces likewise all that He has ever been to and for His spiritual Israel in every age. “Thus saith the Lord,” it is added, “The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness ; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” Ah, beloved, here is the secret-here the spring—of all blessing and blessedness, the “finding grace;" it was not merited grace; not purchased grace; the very idea of merit or purchase would be to nullify—to destroy the very nature and intrinsic value of grace. Grace ! grace! what is grace? It is free favour-pure mercy
—unspeakable goodness-rich, unmerited, sovereign love. “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” A sovereign, merciful, unaccountable act, as bestowed upon him of Jehovah. And so it is, beloved, with each and every member of the one redeemed, elect family. No better than other men--in all probability, worse than others; because Satan, having, in numberless cases, some suspicion of grace
being treasured up in the loving heart of Jehovah towards certain singularly-preserved and remarkably-protected-and-delivered characters, makes the more deadly onslaught in his temptations upon such, if possible to entangle and destroy. Hence such are more tempted, more tried, more captivated and ensnared than men in common. Still, blessed be God, because He will have it so, they “ find grace in the wilderness," and the Lord, sooner or later, draws nigh with the sweet, blessed, unspeakably-precious assurance: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me.” Now, do mark, dear reader, just upon the same footing as “finding grace in the wilderness,” how all is of necessity traced up to the Lord; how all and everything of blessing and blessedness originates with Him; how all emanates from Him: He the grand Springhead and Fountain, as well as the ceaseless Channel and continuous Stream.
If you look at the words as rendered “appeared of old," and thus comprehending date, it is very blessed; or, if you regard them as expressed in the margin, “ from afar," and thus embracing place, it is unspeakably precious. Be it date or distance, the sovereign love-act of Jehovah, as manifested and exhibited in the drawing His people through and by the dear Mediator, Christ Jesus, the Son of His love, is both great and glorious. And, when either place or period is thus considered, how sweetly, beloved, under the precious ministry of the Holy Ghost, does it draw up the mind out of and off from its own little contracted self, causing it to rest in the covenant choice and the covenant settlements of a covenant Jehovah. Oh, how beautiful and how blessed it is, when the hearts of the Lord's poor tried and tempest-tossed people, are thus led into a contemplation of these eternal verities. They as it were stamp every leading and movement of Jehovah with such a peculiar definiteness-SO unalterable a purpose—so distinct a design and object, that the soul argues with itself, “How can a Being so infinite in wisdom, so boundless in love, so omnipotent in power, suffer Himself to be defeated ? How can He fail in the accomplishment of all He has pledged Himself to be and to do ?” Now, in proportion as we are enabled thus to argue, beloved, in that very proportion shall we be lifted up above all the sorrows and perplexities and apprehensions of the way. “It is enough; my God hath promised. The God who cannot lie—the Omnipotent whose power is engaged on my behalf-must and will accomplish all that He hath promised. His word and His power are at stake.”
“The work that Wisdom undertakes
Eternal mercy ne'er forsakes.” Poor worn and weary souls, this view of the case is sweetly confirmed by those favourite lines of ours, as expressed by the sainted Kent:
“ Here let the weary rest,
Ah, the covenant ! the covenant ! of how much many a poor tempesttossed sinner is robbed by Satan and self, through his ignorance of or educational prejudice against the covenant! Because so grossly misrepresented, how many a poor convinced and conscience-smitten sinner has little less than a certain horror when the covenant is spoken of, as though it involved doctrines and practices entertaining and encouraging sin and licentiousness, than which there could not be a greater libel against the grand economy of salvation, which economy is embraced and comprehended in that one word-covenant.
Observe again, beloved, that the language implies a waiting—aye, and a watching—time. “The Lord hath appeared." And such is ever the case in the experience of the Lord's dear people. He begets in them, imperceptibly but effectually, a certain restlessness-uneasiness
- discomfort. All previous creature-satisfaction and human dependencies fail. There is, in connexion with this failure, a certain looking for and craving after a something as yet not possessed. There is a want which no human hand can supply—a gap which no fleshly power can fill. There is a blank in the heart which only He who made that heart can meet. It is under these circumstances that the Lord Himself appears, and almost invariably in an unexpected and most unlooked-for way, coming over mountains of sin, unbelief, and defilement, that fills the soul of the previously oppressed and guilty and all-but-despairing one with perfect wonder and amazement. It is at such a season that the Lord not ly, of a sudden and so graciously, appears, but breaks silence with a "yea,” as though by the very salutation He would assure the soul of the genuineness and the reality of the declaration about to be made. The "yea” is to leave no doubt or hesitation even for a moment of the truth and the blessedness of the disclosure which it prefaces. It is the "yea,” to be followed by the "amen" of the covenant promise of a covenant Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Brethren beloved, mark the "yea.
Next observe the declaration itself. “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love." See, first, the love—not creature love, and even that is the sweetest, the highest, the most sacred of all human themes ; human love and creature sympathy (imperfect as it is) may be said to be all that is left of or rescued from the Adam-fall transgression. But even this creature-love must have its creature-attraction. It needs to be drawn out, and, in order to this, there must be a something to allure or to work upon. But, in regard to Divine love, there was nought whatever to attract, unless it was destitution and danger. There was not the veriest iota of anything that was pleasing, agreeable, or worthy. Hence Jehovah loved because He would love, and that perfectly-unaccountable love should, in due time, beget love upon the very ground of its perfectly-marvellous and inexplicable as well as sovereign and gracious character. The more
that Divine love is investigated and considered, the more absolutely free from all human attraction or desert will it be discovered to be.
Next, there is its exceedingly personal and pointed nature, “ Yea, I have loved thee." It is so special—so individualizing. So that, when revealed and thus made known to the objects of it, they become the more amazed and astounded at its pointed, special, separating character. And, by contrast and comparison with others, more worthy, as they conceive, on account of amiability of temper and consistency of conduct, but still left in nature's darkness and creature-heathenism, they become the more lost in wonder, love, and praise as they contemplate themselves as the objects of this supernatural and distinguishing love. Who had greater reason to rejoice in this special and separating love than Jeremiah himself, in the opening of whose prophecy we read, “ Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations ?”
This further furnishes a key to the eternal nature of this love. “ Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love." It originatedif the term originate can be used in regard to an infinite and eternally-existing Being-in eternity, and was to be brought into operation in time, in immediate connexion with that declaration of Jehovah, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” And, as it was an eternal love, how unlikely-seeing whence it was, who its possessor, and what its control—that it should be a defeated or a disappointed love. As it was a love everlasting in its date, it was to be continuous and unintercepted in its operation, and everlasting in its duration. It was to be a love flowing from eternity, through all the time-state, into everlasting glorification.
Furthermore, there was to be a blessed fruit or consequence of this love, as expressed in the words before us, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore"-mark the therefore, dear reader
-“therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” So that the love was not to be an inactive—a pent-up-an inoperative love, but a love in action; a love brought forth; a love manifested ; a love exhibited in acts of kindness, mercy, condescension. It was to be an everlasting love displaying itself under the new, distinguishing, and still more acceptable form of “lovingkindness." o beautiful blendO blessed combination! “Lovingkindness !”
“ With lovingkindness have I drawn thee."
Beloved, we dare not attempt to enter upon the blessed field of thought and holy comfort and consolation which this expression “therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” opens up. We should like to indulge the inclination to enlarge upon a subject so great and so glorious, but time and space forbid. Suffice it to say, that it is the Lord Jehovah's drawing, and that with such infinite wisdom, such consummate skill, such almighty power, through mists and mazes
difficulties and dangers—so mystical and marvellous to the creature, yet, in the sequel, to be seen as so merciful, so loving, so gracious, as even in the time-state to draw forth the adoring wonder and amazement of the subject of it; and, if now, amid all the clouds and the obscurity and the antagonism of the flesh, what—what will be the aspect and what the acknowledgment in that better, brighter state of which we read, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him?” (1 Cor. ii. 9.)
THE EDITOR. St. Luke's, Bedminster, June 4, 1868.
THE PILGRIM'S ETERNAL REST.
Thou pilgrim to Canaan and glory to come,
In the rest that remains to the people of God.
SACRAMENTAL EFFICACY.—It is impossible to express the pestilence and fatal nature of it, and especially as it has prevailed over a great part of the world, to the great detriment of the Church for many ages past. Indeed, it is DIABOLICAL; for, by promising justification without faith, it precipitates souls into destruction; in the next place, by representing the sacrament as the cause of justification, it envelopes the minds of men, naturally too much inclined to the earth, in gross superstition, leading them to rest in the exhibition of a coporeal object rather than in God Himself.-John Calvin.