Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.—James i. 22.
A MAN may preach with the eloquence of **■ an angel, but if he don't live what he preaches, and act out in his home and his business what he professes, his testimony goes for naught, and the people say it is all hypocrisy, it is all a sham. Words are very empty if there is nothing back of them. Your testimony is poor and worthless if there is not a record back of it consistent with what you profess.
What we need is to pray to God to lift us up out of this low, cold, formal state that we have been living in, that we may live in the atmosphere of God continually, and that the Lord may lift upon us the light of His countenance, and that we may shine in this world, reflecting His grace and glory.
They that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee: for Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee.—Psalm ix. 10.
A MAN will not trust strangers. I want to *^ get acquainted with a man before I put my confidence in him. I have known God for forty years, and I have more confidence in Him now than I ever had before; it increases every year. In the Bible, some things that were dark ten years ago are plain to-day; and some things that are dark now will be plain ten years hence.
We must take things by faith. You take the existence of cities on the testimony of men that have been in those cities; and we ask men to take our testimony, who have found joy in believing.
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one.— John x. 28, 29, 30.
""THESE are precious verses to those who are afraid of falling, who fear that they will not hold out. It is God's work to hold. It is the Shepherd's business to keep the sheep. Whoever heard of the sheep going to bring back the shepherd? People have an idea that they have to keep themselves and Christ too. It is a false idea. It is the work of the Shepherd to look after them, and to take care of those who trust Him. He has promised to do it.
A sea captain, when dying said, "Glory to God, the anchor holds." He trusted in Christ. His anchor had taken hold of the solid Rock.
And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.—Matthew xiii. 58.
UNBELIEF is as much an enemy to the Christian as it is to the unconverted. It will keep back the blessing now as much as it did in the days of Christ. We read that in one place Christ could not do many mighty works because of unbelief. If Christ could not do this, how can we expect to accomplish anything if the people of God are unbelieving? I contend that God's children are alone able to hinder God's work. Infidels, atheists, and sceptics cannot do it. Where there is union, strong faith, and expectation among Christians, a mighty work is always done.
If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.—Ezekiel xxxiii. 15, 16.
TF you have ever taken money dishonestly, you need not pray God to forgive you and fill you with the Holy Ghost until you make restitution. If you have not got the money now to pay back, will to do it, and God accepts the willing mind.
Many a man is kept in darkness and unrest because he fails to obey God on this point. If the plough has gone deep, if the repentance is true, it will bring forth fruit. What use is there in my coming to God until I am willing, like Zacchaeus, to make it good, if I have done any man wrong or have taken anything from him falsely? Confession and restitution are the steps that lead up to forgiveness.
Thou shall have no other gods before me.—Exodus xx. 3.
YOU don't have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you make most of is your god. Whatever you love more than God is your idol. Many a man's heart is like some Kaffirs' huts, so full of idols that there is hardly room to turn around. Rich and poor, learned and unlearned, all classes of men and women are guilty of this sin. "The mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself."
A man may make a god of himself, of a child, of a mother, of some precious gift that God has bestowed upon him. He may forget the Giver, and let his heart go out in adoration toward the gift. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and 1 forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. —Matthew xviii. 21, 22.
DETER did not seem to think that be was in danger of falling into sin; his question was, How often should I forgive my brother? But very soon we hear that Peter has fallen. I can imagine that when he did fall, the sweet thought came to him of what the Master had said.
The voice of sin may be loud, but the voice of forgiveness is louder.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.—1 Corinthians xv. 42-44.
A S I go into a cemetery I like to think of the **■ time when the dead shall rise from their graves. We read part of this chapter in what we call the "burial service." I think it is an unfortunate expression. Paul never talked of "burial." He said the body was sown in corruption, sown in weakness, sown in dishonor, sown a natural body. If I bury a bushel of wheat, I never expect to see it again, but if I sow it, I expect results. Thank God, our friends are not buried; they are only sown! I like the Saxon name for the cemetery—" God's acre."
There is no difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.—Romans iii. 22, 23.
""THAT is one of the hardest truths man has to learn. We are apt to think that we are just a little better than our neighbors, and if we find they are a little better than ourselves, we go to work and try to pull them down to our level. If you want to find out who and what man is, go to the third chapter of Romans, and there the whole story is told. "There are none righteous, no, not one." "All have sinned and come short." All! Some men like to have their lives written before they die. If you would like to read your biography, turn to this chapter, and you will find it already written.
Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.—Matthew xi. 28.
O OME years ago a gentleman asked me which I thought was the most precious promise of all those that Christ left. I took some time to look over the promises, but I gave it up. I found that I could not answer the question. Like a man with a large family of children, he cannot tell which he likes best, he loves them all. But if not the best, this is one of the sweetest promises of all:
"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. —Proverbs xxviii. 13.
* * T_T E that covereth his sins shall not prosper." He may be a man in the pulpit, a priest before the altar, a king on the throne; I don't care who he is. Man has been trying it for *six thousand years. Adam tried it, and failed. Moses tried it when he buried the Egyptian whom he killed, but he failed. "Be sure your sin will find you out." You cannot bury your sin so deep but it will have a resurrection by and by, if it has not been blotted out by the Son of God. What man has failed to do for six thousand years, we had better give up trying to do.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.—Ephesians vi. 12.
""THE reason why so many Christians fail all through life is just this—they underestimate the strength of the enemy. We have a terrible enemy to contend with. Don't let Satan deceive us. Unless we are spiritually dead, it means warfare. Nearly everything around tends to draw us away from God. Wc do not step clear out of Egypt on to the throne of God. There is the wilderness journey, and there are enemies in the land.
Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.—1 Peter v. 5.
A MAN can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility. You soon detect mock humility. They have a saying among the Arabs that as the tares and the wheat grow they show which God has blessed. The ears that God has blessed bow their heads and acknowledge every grain, and the more fruitful they are the lower their heads are bowed. The tares lift up their heads erect, high above the wheat, but they are only fruitful of evil.
If we only get down low enough, God will use us to His glory.
July 14th. The love of Christ constraineth us.—2 Corinthians v. 14.
T AM getting sick and tired of hearing the word duty, duty. You hear so many talk about it being their duty to do this and do that. My experience is that such Christians have very little success. Is there not a much higher platform than that of mere duty? Can we not engage in the service of Christ because we love Him? When that is the constraining power it is so easy to work.
It is not hard for a mother to watch over a sick child. She does not look upon it as any hardship. You never hear Paul talking about what a hard time he had in his Master's service. He was constrained by love to Christ, and by the love of Christ to him. He counted it a joy to labor, and even to suffer, for his blessed Master.
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the fiesh, but quickened by the Spirit.— 1 Peter iii. 18.
LJ ERE we see that Christ was raised up from the grave by the Spirit, and the power exercised to raise Christ's dead body must raise our dead souls and quicken them. No other power on earth can quicken a dead soul but the same power that raised the body of Jesus Christ out of Joseph's sepulchre. And if we want that power to quicken our friends who are dead in sin, we must look to God, and not be looking to man to do it. If we look alone to ministers, if we look alone to Christ's disciples to do this work, we shall be disappointed; but if we look to the Spirit of God and expect it to come from Him and Him alone, then we shall honor the Spirit, and the Spirit will do His work.
There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.—1 John v. 7.
DY the Father is meant the first Person, Christ, the Word is the second, and the Holy Spirit, perfectly fulfilling His own office and work in union with the Father and the Son, is the third. I find clearly presented in my Bible, that the One God who demands my love, service and worship, has there revealed Himself, and that each of those three names of Father, Son and Holy Ghost has personality attached to them. Therefore we find some things ascribed to God as Father, some to God as Saviour, and some to God as Comforter and Teacher. It has been remarked that the Father plans, the Son executes, and the Holy Spirit applies. But I also believe they plan and work together.
July 17th. Pray without ceasing.—1 Thessalonians v. 17. TT was in November or December when those men of Judah arrived at Sheeshan (Nehemiah i. 1, 2), and Nehemiah prayed on until March or April before he spoke to the king. If a blessing doesn't come to-night, pray harder to-morrow, and if it doesn't come to-morrow, pray harder, and even then, if it doesn't come, keep right on, and you will not be disappointed. God in heaven will hear your prayers, and will answer them. He has never failed, if a man has been honest in his petitions and honest in his confessions. Let your faith beget patience. God is never in a hurry, said St. Augustine, because He has all eternity to work.
God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?—Numbers xxiii. 19.
0 UPPOSE a man, in directing me to the post ^ office, gives me ten landmarks, and that in my progress there I find nine of them to be as he told me. I should have good reason to believe that I was coming to the post office.
And if, by believing, I get a new life, and a hope, a peace, a joy, and a rest to my soul that
1 never had before; if I get self-control, and find that I have a power to resist evil and to do good, I have pretty good proof that I am on the right road to the " city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." And if things have taken place, and are now taking place, as recorded in God's Word, I have good reason to conclude that what yet remains will be fulfilled. And yet people talk of doubting! Faith is to take God at His word, unconditionally.
/ will set Him on high.—Psalm xci. 14. f~* OD is able to do it. Up above the angels,
up above the archangels, up above the cherubims and seraphims, on the throne with His own Son.
We are called to be sons and daughters of the eternal God. Do you know, the Prince of Wales cannot sit on the throne with Queen Victoria? But it is not so yonder. Christ has gone up and taken His seat at the right hand of the Father, and every son and daughter of God is to be lifted up to the throne. Think of the promise. Isn't it rich, isn't it sweet ?" I will set Him on high."
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shall deny Me thrice. And Peter went out and wept bitterly.— Luke xxii. 61, 62.
'"THE Master might have turned and said to * Peter, "Is it true, Peter, that you have forgotten Me so soon? Do you not remember when your wife's mother lay sick of a fever that I rebuked the disease and it left her? Do you not call to mind your astonishment at the draught of fishes so that you exclaimed, ' Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord'? Do you remember when in answer to your cry, 'Lord, save me, or I perish,' I stretched out My hand and kept you from drowning in the water? Have you forgotten when, on the Mount of Transfiguration, with James and John, you said to me,'Lord, it is good to be here: let us make three tabernacles.' Have you forgotten being with Me at the suppertable, and in Gethsemane? Is it true that you have forgotten Me so soon?" The Lord might have upbraided him with questions such as these; but He did nothing of the kind. He cast one look on Peter, and there was so much love in it that it broke that bold disciple's heart, and he went out and wept bitterly.
He must increase, but I must decrease.—John iii. 30. T"\OCTOR BONAR once remarked that he could tell when a Christian was growing. In proportion to his growth in grace he would elevate his Master, talk less of what he was doing, and become smaller and smaller in his own esteem, until, like the morning star, he faded away before the rising sun. Jonathan was willing to decrease that David might increase; and John the Baptist showed the same spirit of humility.
July 22d. I will be with Him in trouble.—Psalm xci. 15. \17E are apt to think that young people do "* not have any trouble, but if they haven't, there is one thing they can make sure of, that they are going to have trouble later. "Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." Trouble is coming. No one is exempt. God has had one Son without sin, but He has never had one without sorrow. Jesus Christ, our Master, suffered as few men ever suffered, and He died very young. Ours is a path of sorrow and suffering, and it is so sweet to hear the Master say:
"I will be with you in trouble." Don't think for a moment that you can get on without Him. You may say now, " I can get on; I am in good health and prosperity," but the hour is coming when you will need Him.
/ am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.—Romans i. 16.
T REMEMBER some meetings being held in a locality where the tide did not rise very quickly, and bitter and reproachful things were being said about the work. But one day, one of the most prominent men in the place rose and said:
"I want it to be known that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ; and if there is any odium to be cast on His cause, I am prepared to take my share of it."
It went through the meeting like an electric current, and a blessing came at once to his own soul and to the souls of others.
After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: 1 am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.— Genesis xv. 1.
A BRAM might have thought that the kings **■ that he had defeated might get other kings and other armies to come, and he might have thought of himself as a solitary man, with only three hundred and eighteen men, so that he might have feared lest he be swept from the face of the earth. But the Lord came and said: "Abram, fear not."
That is the first time those oft-repeated words "Fear not" occur in the Bible.
"Fear not, for I will be your shield and your reward."
I would rather have that promise than all the armies and all the navies of the world to protect me—to have the God of heaven for my Protector! God was teaching Abram that He was to be his Friend and his Shield, if he would surrender himself wholly to His keeping, and trust in His goodness. That is what we need—to surrender ourselves up to God, fully and wholly.
God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.—John iii. 16.
T HAVE never been able to preach from that * text. I have often thought I would, but it is so high that I can never climb to its height, I have just quoted it and passed on. Who can fathom the depth of those words: "God so loved the world"? We can never scale the heights of His love or fathom its depths. Paul prayed that he might know the height, the depth, the length, and the breadth, of the love of God; but it was past his finding out. July 26th.
Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!—Numbers xxiii. 10. ""THE sanctified man and the unsanctified one 1 look at heaven very differently. The unsanctified man simply chooses heaven in preference to hell. He thinks that if he must go to either one he would rather try heaven. It is like a man with a farm who has a place offered him in another country, where there is said to be a gold mine; he hates to give up all he has and take any risk. But if he is going to be banished, and must leave, and has his choice of living in a wilderness or digging in a coal pit, or else take the gold mine, then there is no hesitation. The unregenerate man likes heaven better than hell, but he likes this world the best of all. The true believer prizes heaven above everything else, and is always willing to give up the world. Everybody wants to enjoy heaven after they die, but they don't want to be heavenly-minded while they live.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.—Matthew v. 16.
\X/E see very few illuminated Christians. If
every one of us was illuminated by the Spirit of God, how we could light up the churches! But to have a lantern without any light, would be a nuisance. Many Christians carry along lanterns and say, "I wouldn't give up my religion for yours." They talk about religion. The religion that has no lire is like painted fire. These are artificial Christians.
Do you belong to that class? You can tell. If you can't, your friends can.
She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying.—Mark xiv. 8.
T IMAGINE when Mary died, if God had * sent an angel to write her epitaph, he couldn't have done better than to put over her grave what Christ said:
"She hath done what she could."
I would rather have that said over my grave, if it could honestly be said, than to have all the wealth of the Rothschilds. Christ raised a monument to Mary that is more lasting than the monuments raised to Caesar or Napoleon. Their monuments crumble away, but hers endures. Her name never appeared in print while she was on earth, but to-day it is famous in three hundred and fifty languages.
We may never be great; we may never be known outside our circle of friends; but we may, like Mary, do what we can. May God help each one of us to do what we can! Life will soon be over; it is short at the longest. Let us rise and follow in the footsteps of Mary of Bethany.
July 29th. Give us day by day our daily bread.—Luke xi. 3. TF God could set a table for His people in the wilderness, and feed three millions of Israelites for forty years, can He not give us our daily bread? I do not mean only the bread that perisheth, but also the Bread that cometh from above. If He feeds the birds of the air, surely He will feed His children made in His own image! If He numbers the very hairs of our head, He will take care to supply all our temporal wants.
For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not ,• but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.—2 Corinthians iv. 15, 16.
A MAN can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough to-day to last him for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at once to sustain life for a week to come. We must draw upon God's boundless stores of grace from day to day, as we need it.
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me; that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.—Luke xxii. 29, 30.
""FHINK of the Lord stooping down and taking a poor drunkard right up and out of the gutter, and putting his feet on the rock, and a new song in his mouth, and lifting him up above powers and principalities, above angels and archangels, seraphims and cherubims, up, up, up, on to the throne with Himself! Do you suppose that an angel flying over the nations of the earth would look at any throne? What a great time they had a few years ago putting the Czar on to the throne of Russia! Nation after nation sent representatives to assist at the ceremonies. But Christ's is more than that. His is an everlasting kingdom. His is a throne that is going to endure forever; and He says, "Ye shall sit with Me on My throne." Man, look up! Look at the stars to-night! Our inheritance is above.