We cannot keep our eye too exclusively or too intently fixed on Jesus. All salvation is in Him. All salvation proceedsfrom Him. All salvation leads to Him. And for the assurance and comfort of our salvation, we are to repose believingly and entirely on Him. Christ must be all! Christ the beginning — Christ the center — and Christ the end.
Oh sweet truth to you who are sensible of your poverty, vileness, and insufficiency, and of the ten thousand flaws and failures of which, perhaps, no one is cognizant but God and your own soul! Oh, to turn and rest in Christ — a full Christ — a loving Christ — a tender Christ, whose heart’s love never chills, from whose eye darts no reproof, from whose lips breathes no sentence of condemnation!
You send the Bible to the ignorant and destitute, you carry it to every cottage and waft it to every country, and thanks to God that you do so. But to what extent is it studied in your churches, read in your families, taught to your children? There is no surer evidence of living without God in the world than living without intimate communion with the Bible. Who that does not mean to remain in impenetrable obduracy, who that does not form the deliberate resolve to close every avenue to the divine influence, that is not prepared to plunge the dagger of the second death into his own bosom; can live in the neglect of these Scriptures of God? And if you believe them, and understand them, will you refuse them the submission of your heart and your everlasting obedience? Do you accredit the stupendous truths contained in this volume, and shall they awaken no deep interest, and urge you to no solemn preparation for your last account?
There is not one among those who will not prove a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. What can we add more to this searching, solemn appeal to you who are living in a wilful neglect of that Book which tells you of life in this world, and out of which you will be judged in the world which is to come?
Disbelieve, or neglect the Word of God, and you reject the only chart to eternity.
You know so little of God, my reader, because you live at such a distance from God. You have so little communion with Him,so little confession of sin, so little searching of your own conscience, so little probing of your own heart, so little transaction with Him in the little things of life. You deal with God in great matters. You take great trials to God, great perplexities, great needs; but in the minutiae of each day’s history, in what are called the little things of life — you have no dealings with God whatever — and consequently you know so little of the love, so little of the wisdom, so little of the glory, of your resplendent covenant God and reconciled Father.
But no sophistical reasoning, no fine-drawn infidelity, can contravene the fact or release him from the truth that, the creature must be the absolute and sole property of the Creator; that this involves his responsibility; and that as a responsible being “every one of us must give account of himself to God.” Such is the natural debt you owe to God, my reader. You owe to Him as your Maker every member of your body, every faculty of your mind, every power of your soul. To Him you must give account of your body, how you have used it; of your talents, how you have employed them; of your soul, how you have cared for it; of your rank, wealth, influence, time, how you have laid out all for God. Do you acknowledge the debt? Do you recognize the claim by a holy, cheerful, unreserved surrender? God has power to assert His claim, and He will assert it for time and for eternity.
The causes from where mental suffering arises are many. With some of the Lord’s people the origin is hereditary, with others it is natural, and with yet more it is religious. But, from whatever it may arise, mental suffering in some form is the discipline appointed by God for many of His people. Think not that your case is singular, or that you are an especial object of your Father’s displeasure, because he has so afflicted you.
The place of Christ’s temptation was “the wilderness.” Our Lord was already upon the border of the wilderness of Judea: but it was necessary that He should be led deeper into its remoteness and solitude-a depth so profound and desolate, that one of the Evangelists records the fact that He was “with the wild beasts,” far removed from the abode and intercourse of man. The Son of God herding, as it were, with the brute creation-the companion of the untamed denizens of the forest!-O Thou glorious tempted One! to what abasement did Thou not submit, that, thus trained in the school of temptation, Thou might be one with Thy saints in theirs!
Divine holiness is best exhibited in the cross of Jesus. Not hell itself, as dreadful and eternal as is its suffering — the undying worm, the unquenchable fire, the smoke of the torment that goes up forever and ever — affords such a solemn and impressive spectacle of the holiness and justice of God in the punishment of sin — as is presented in the death of God’s beloved Son!
Christ is ever with you — in suffering. He Himself was a sufferer. Oh, suffering never looked so lovely, martyrdom never wore a crown so resplendent — as when the Son of God bowed His head and drank the cup of woe for us! Himself a sufferer — is there a being in the universe who could take His place at your side in all the scenes of mental, spiritual, and bodily suffering through which your Heavenly Father leads you, comparable to Christ? What are your sufferings — contrasted with His? And what was there in the unparalleled greatness and intensity of His sufferings — to disqualify Him from entering with the warmest love and deepest sympathy into yours?
It is possible, my dear reader, that this page may be read by you at a period of painful and entire separation from all public engagements, ordinances, and privileges. The way which it has pleased the Lord to take thus to set you aside, may be painful and humbling. The inmate of a sick chamber, or curtained within the house of mourning, or removed far remote from the sanctuary of God and the fellowship of the saints, you are perhaps led to inquire, “Lord, why this?” He replies, “Come aside and rest awhile.” O the thoughtfulness, the discrimination, the tenderness of Jesus towards his people!
An unconverted state will bear fruit corresponding with its own nature. It must, in the nature of things, be so. It would be a miracle, a miracle of grace, were it not. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” So is it in the spiritual world. The enmity against God of the carnal mind, the rejection of the Lord Jesus, the governing principle of SELF, the supreme ascendancy of the world, the slavery of sin, indicate, unmistakably, the unrenewed, unregenerate nature from which they spring. Old things have not passed away.