January 7: A Broken And Contrite Heart

The Lord is near unto those who are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18

A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

THERE are those by whom a broken heart is despised. Satan despises it—though he trembles at it. The world despises it—though it stands in awe of it. The Pharisee despises it—though he attempts its counterfeit. But there is one who despises it not. “You will not despise it,” exclaims the penitent child, with his eye upon the loving heart of his God and Father.

But why does God not only not despise it, but delights in and accepts it? Because He sees in it a holy and a fragrant sacrifice. It is a sacrifice, because it is offered to God, and not to man. It is an oblation laid upon His altar. Moses never presented such an oblation—Aaron never offered such a sacrifice in all the gifts which he offered, in all the victims which he slew. And while some have cast their rich and splendid gifts into the treasury, or have laid them ostentatiously upon the altar of Christian benevolence, God has stood by the spot to which some poor penitent has brought his broken heart for sin, the incense of which has gone up before Him as a most precious and fragrant sacrifice.

Upon that oblation, upon that gift, His eye has been fixed, as if one object, and one only, had arrested and absorbed His gaze—it was a poor broken heart that lay bleeding and quivering upon His altar. It is a sacrifice, too, offered upon the basis of the atoning sacrifice of His dear Son—the only sacrifice that satisfies Divine justice—and this makes it precious to God. So infinitely glorious is the atonement of Jesus, so divine, so complete, and so honoring to every claim of His moral government, that He accepts each sacrifice of prayer, of praise, of penitence, and of personal consecration, laid in faith by the side and upon that one infinite sacrifice for sin.

He recognizes in it, too, the work of His own Spirit. When the Spirit of God moved upon the face of unformed nature, and a new world sprang into life, light, and beauty, He pronounced it very good. But what must be His estimate of that new creation which His Spirit has wrought in the soul, whose moral chaos He has reduced to life, light, and order!

But in what way does God evidence His satisfaction with, and His delight in, the broken and contrite heart? We answer—first by the manifestation of His power in healing it. “He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.” “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek: He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”

Never did a physician more delight to display his skill, or exercise the benevolent feelings of his nature in the alleviation of suffering, than does Jesus in His work of binding up and healing the heart broken for sin, by speaking a sense of pardon, and applying to it the balsam of His own most precious blood.

But our Lord not only heals the contrite heart, but, as if heaven had not sufficient attraction as His dwelling-place, He comes down to earth, and makes that heart His abode. “Thus says the high and lofty One, that inhabits Eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” What, dear, humble penitent, could give you such a view of the interest which Christ takes in your case—the delight with which He contemplates your contrition, and the welcome and the blessing which He is prepared to bestow upon you, on your casting yourself down at His feet, as this fact, that He waits to make that sorrow-stricken heart of yours His chief and loved abode—reviving it, healing it, and enshrining Himself forever within its renewed and sanctified affections.

July 23: My Soul Cleaves Unto The Dust

“I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word.” Psalm 119:25

Ah! how many whose eye scans this page may take up and breathe David’s words. You feel a deadness, a dullness, and an earthliness in spiritual enjoyments, and duties, and privileges, in which your whole soul should be all life, all fervor, all love. You are low where you ought to be elevated; you grovel where you ought to soar; you cleave to the earth where you ought to be embracing the heavens. Your thoughts are low; your affections are low; your feelings are low; your spirits are low; and you seem almost ready to question the existence of the life of God in your soul.

But even in this sad and depressed state may there not be something cheering, encouraging, hopeful? There was evidently in David’s–”My soul cleaves unto the dust: quicken me.” This was the cheering, encouraging, hopeful feature in the Psalmists’s case–his breathing after the requickening of the Divine life of his soul. Here was that which marked him a man of God. It was a living man complaining of his deadness, and breathing after more life. It was a heaven-born soul lamenting its earthliness, and panting after more of heaven. It was a spiritual man mourning over his carnality, and praying for more spirituality. It is not the prayer of one conscious of the low state of His soul, and yet satisfied with that state.

“I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word.” Perhaps no expression is more familiar to the ear, and no acknowledgment is more frequently on the lips of religious professors, than this. And yet where is the accompanying effort to rise above it? Where is the putting on of the armor? Where is the conflict? Where is the effort to emerge from the dust, to break away from the enthrallment, and soar into a higher and purer region? Alas! many from whose lips smoothly glides the humiliating confession still embrace the dust, and seem to love the dust, and never stretch their pinions to rise above it.

But let us study closely this lesson of David’s experience, that while deep lamentation filled his heart, and an honest confession breathed from his lips, there was also a breathing, a panting of soul, after a higher and a better state. He seemed to say–”Lord, I am prostrate, but I long to rise; I am fettered, but I struggle to be free; my soul cleaves to the dust, but quicken me!” Similar to this was the state of the Church, so graphically depicted by Solomon in his Song–”I sleep, but my heart wakes.”

May 15: Beggars All

“The throne of grace.” Hebrews 4:16

Forget not, dear reader, it is the throne of grace, to which you come in prayer. It is a throne, because God is a Sovereign. He will ever have the suppliant recognize this perfection of His nature.

He hears and answers as a Sovereign. He hears whom He will, and answers what and when He will. There must be no dictation to God, no refusing to bow to His sovereignty, no rebelling against His will. If the answer be delayed, or God should seem to withhold it altogether, remember that “He gives no account of any of His matters,” and that He has a right to answer or not to answer, as seems good in His sight. Glorious perfection of God, beaming from the mercy-seat!

But it is also a throne of grace. And why? Because a God of grace sits upon it, and the scepter of grace is held out from it, and all the favors bestowed there are the blessings of grace. God has many thrones.

There is the throne of creation, the throne of providence, the throne of justice, and the throne of redemption; but this is the throne of grace. Just the throne we need. We are the poor, the needy, the helpless, the vile, the sinful, the unworthy; we have nothing to bring but our deep wretchedness and poverty, nothing but our complaints, our miseries, our crosses, our groanings, our sighs, and tears. But it is the throne of grace. For just such is it erected.

It is set up in a world of woe- in the midst of the wilderness- in the very land of the enemy- in the valley of tears, because it is the throne of grace. It is a God of grace who sits upon it, and all the blessings He dispenses from it are the bestowments of grace. Pardon, justification, adoption, peace, comfort, light, direction- all, all is of grace. No worth or worthiness in the creature draws it forth- no price he may bring purchases it- no tears, or complainings, or misery moves the heart of God to compassion- all is of grace.

God is so full of compassion, and love, and mercy, He does not need to be stimulated to pour it forth. It gushes from His heart as from a full and overflowing fountain, and flows into the bosom of the poor, the lowly, the humble, and the contrite; enriching, comforting, and sanctifying their souls.

Then, dear reader, whatever be your case, you may come. If it is a throne of grace, as it is, then why not you? Why stand afar off? If the poor, the penniless, the disconsolate, the guilty are welcome here- if this throne is crowded by such, why make yourself an exception? Why not come too? What is your case, what is your sorrow, what is your burden?

Ah! perhaps you can disclose it to no earthly ear. You can tell it only to God. Then take it to Him. Let me tell you for your encouragement, God has His secret audience-chamber, where He will meet you alone, and where no eye shall see you, and no ear shall hear you, but His; where you may open all your heart, and disclose your real case, and pour all your secrets into His ear. Precious encouragement! It comes from those lips into which grace was poured. “You, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.”

Then, upon this promise, go to the throne of grace. Whatever be the need, temporal or spiritual, take it there. God loves your secrets. He delights in your confidence, and will honor the soul that thus honors Him.

April 1: Godly Sorrow

“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” 1 Cor. 11:31

Self-condemnation averts God’s condemnation. When a penitent sinner truly, humbly, graciously sits in judgment upon himself, the Lord will never sit in judgment upon him. The penitent publican, who stood afar off, wrapped in the spirit of self-condemnation, retired from His presence a justified man. The proud, self-righteous Pharisee, who marched boldly to the altar and justified himself, went forth from God’s presence a condemned man.

When God sees a penitent sinner arraigning, judging, condemning, loathing himself, He exclaims, “I do not condemn you; go and sin no more.” He who judges and condemns himself upon God’s footstool shall be acquitted and absolved from God’s throne. The Lord give unto us this secret spirit of self-judgment. Such was Job’s, when in deep contrition he declared, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Such was David’s, when he penitentially confessed, “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.” Such was Peter’s, when he vehemently exclaimed, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Such was Isaiah’s, when he plaintively cried, “Woe is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” Such was the publican’s, when he humbly prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Oh lovely posture! Oh sacred spirit of self-abhorrence, of self condemnation! The Holy Spirit works it in the heart, and this stamps it as so precious, so salutary, and so safe. The great day of the Lord will unveil blessings passing all thought, and glories passing all imagination, to the soul who beneath the cross lies prostrate, in the spirit of self-condemnation. The judgment-day of the self-condemning soul is on this side of eternity; while the judgment-day of the self-justifying soul is on the other side of eternity. And oh, how terrible will that judgment be!

 

December 30

“You shall guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Psalm 73:24

LORD, give me more clearly to see Your love in all Your dealings. Anoint my eye of faith afresh, that, piercing the dark cloud, it may observe beneath it Your heart, all beating with an infinite and a deathless affection towards me. The cup which my Father has prepared and given me, shall I not drink in deep submission to His holy will? O Lord, I dare not ask that it may pass my lips untasted: I may find a token of Your love concealed beneath the bitter draught. Your will be done. Nearer would I be to You. And since You, my blessed Lord, were a sufferer—Your sufferings now are all passed—I would have fellowship with You in Your sufferings, and thus be made conformable to Your death. Grant me grace, that patience may have her perfect work, wanting nothing. Calm this perturbed mind. Tranquillize this ruffled spirit. Bind up this bruised and broken heart. Say to these troubled waters in which I wade, “Peace, be still.”

Jesus, I throw myself upon Your gentle bosom. To whom can I, to whom would I, tell my grief, to whom unveil my sorrow, but to You? Lord! it is too tender for any eye, too deep for any hand, but Your. I bless You that I am shut up to You, my God. “Whom have I in heaven but You? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside You.” You did hear my prayer, and have answered me, “though as by fire.” I asked for health of soul, and You gave sickness of body. I asked You to possess my entire heart, and You broke my idol. I asked that I might more deeply drink of the fountain of Your love, and You did break my cistern. I asked to sit beneath Your shadow with greater delight, and You smote my gourd. I asked for deeper heart-holiness, and You did open to me more widely the chambers of imagery. But it is well; it is all well.

Though You do slay me, yet will I trust in You. Divine and holy Comforter, lead me to Jesus, my comfort. Witness to my spirit that I am a child of God, though an erring and a chastened one. Lord! I come to You! My soul would sincerely expand her wings, and fly to its home. Let me go, for the day breaks. Come to me, or let me come to You. Ever with You, Lord, oh! that will be heaven indeed. Why do Your chariot wheels so long tarry? Hasten, blessed Savior, and dissolve my chain, and let me spring into glory, and see Your unclouded face, and drink of the river of Your love, and drink—forever.